Dressel Leads #5 Florida Men Into Battle

Key Additions: Brennan Balogh (NE – Back/Fly/IM), Bayley Main (NZL – Sprint Free/Bk), Ross Palazzo (OH – Breaststroke/IM), Alex Katz (FL [Michigan transfer] – Freestyle), Jan Switkowski (POL [Virginia Tech transfer] – Freestyle/Butterfly/IM), Alex Lebed (PA – IM), Samuel Smith (TEN – Diving)

Other Additions: Grady Heath (FL), Jack Szaranek (SCO), Stanley Wu (CA)

Key Losses: Dan Wallace (35 NCAA Points, 2 Relays), Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez (19 NCAA Points, 2 Relays), Carlos Omana (5 NCAA Points), Matt Elliott (4 NCAA Points), Christian-Paul Homer (3 NCAA Points, 1 Relay), Richard Munch (1 NCAA Relay), Matt Curby (1 NCAA Relay)

2014-2015 Lookback

The University of Florida Gators had a terrific campaign last season, highlighted by their 3rd consecutive SEC title after they halted Auburn’s 16-year run in 2012. They then had a strong showing at NCAAs, finishing 5th overall. 5th is down from their 3rd place finish in 2014, but better than they were in 2013 (6th). Falling from 3rd to 5th is understandable, considering Florida lost Sebastien Rousseau, Bradley Deborde and Marcin Cieslak last season who scored a combined 104 individual points at NCAAs in 2014. They also had a less than stellar recruiting year other than the major addition of Caeleb Dressel.

_DArrigo_Mitch DArrigo Florida Mitch DArrigo-DO8T2978-

Mitch D’Arrigo had an incredible season for Florida, including 18 NCAA points and three top-2 finishes at the SEC Championships

Despite the major losses they faced, the Gators still dominated SECs, winning by 180 points. Leading the way was Dressel, with a victory in the 100 fly, 2nd place finishes in the 50 and 100 free, and contributions on 3 relays. They had many more podium finishes, including quite a few from their departing seniors. Dan Wallace, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Carlos Omana and Christian-Paul Homer were all seniors and all produced a top-3 finish.  Other swimmers who stepped up and swam very well were juniors Corey Main and Pawel Werner, sophomores Mitch D’Arrigo and Jack Blyzinskyj and freshman Mark Szaranek. Their relays were solid throughout, with the highlight coming in the men’s 800 free relay where they broke their own SEC meet record.  That relay was at the end of the first night of finals, and the momentum created by the team in that race really carried over to the next day and the Gators never looked back.

They then performed well at NCAA finishing 5th. Dressel stole the show again for Florida, with his victory in the 50 free (18.67) coming just one one-hundredth shy of Nathan Adrian’s American record. Dressel and senior Dan Wallace tied for the team lead with 35 individual points. Wallace started out with a great performance in the first individual final of the meet finishing 2nd in the 500 free for the second straight year. Large contributions also came from Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Mark Szaranek and Mitch D’Arrigo.  They had many others chip in some individual points, which added up. Their relays were solid all around, contributing 100 points of their own. They ultimately finished 30 points behind USC and 39 ahead of Stanford.

Dressel Looks To Continue Momentum After Terrific Summer

After just one season of college swimming, sprinter Caeleb Dressel is rapidly becoming of the biggest names in United States swimming. He capped off his rookie year in Florida winning the NCAA title in the 50 free, and had an even more impressive summer. At US Nationals Dressel won both the 50 and 100 freestyle, posting times competitive with the best in the world. His 50 free was particularly impressive, as his posting of 21.53 made him the 3rd fastest man in the world this year and would’ve put him into a position to medal at the World Championships. Dressel will look to build off the momentum he created for himself this summer in his sophomore season at Florida. With a few of their key swimmers having graduated after last season, Dressel will be called upon to play an even bigger role for the Gators this season. It will be interesting to see how Dressel swims this college season as he has his sights ultimately set on the 2016 Olympic Trials and Olympic Games.

Gators Lose 67 Individual NCAA Points

_Wallace_Dan Dan Wallace Florida Wallace-DO8T1017-

Dan Wallace is Florida’s biggest loss this season, as he earned 35 individual points at NCAAs last season

 

Florida has a lot of their top performers from last year returning, and they also have a solid recruiting class, but they still will suffer from some key losses this season. Their biggest loss is Great Britain’s Dan Wallace, who had an outstanding summer earning a gold medal at the World Championships as a part of Britain’s 4×200 free relay. He also had top finishes in the 200 IM (4th) and 400 IM (6th). Wallace was a leader on this team, and scored 35 individual points at NCAAs. The other big loss Florida has to overcome this season is Spain’s Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, who was a big contributor at NCAAs as well. Solaeche-Gomez scored 19 individual points, including a 7th place finish in the 200 IM. Other notable swimmers they are losing include Christian Homer, Matt Elliott, and Carlos Omana. All 4 contributed individually at the NCAA level. The combined losses of Solaeche-Gomez, Elliott and Richard Munch leave Florida with a lack of breaststroke talent on their roster. Caeleb Dressel is actually the fastest 100 breaststroker they have from last season, but his main focus will obviously be the sprint freestyle. There’s a good chance he’ll be their breaststroker moving forward, unless someone steps up.

Mediocre Recruiting Class Bolstered By Transfers Switkowski, Katz

The two most accomplished swimmers from Florida’s rookie class might just come from their two transfers. At least in terms of long course metres swimming. I think a lot of people were surprised after they saw what Poland’s Jan Switkowski did at the World Championships this summer. Swimming in lane 7 in the mens 200m butterfly final, Switkowski wasn’t given much of a chance by anyone. An unknown polish swimmer just 21 years of age facing off against some of the most well known flyers in the world, he would be about the last person someone would pick for a medal. Switkowski was 8th to the 50, 7th to the 100 and 6th to the 150, before he dropped the hammer. He moved up from 6th to 3rd, earning the bronze medal.

2__Switkowski_Jan FR Jan Switkowski Switkowski Virginia Tech VT_DO8T6776 (1)

Jan Switkowski could be a major contributor for the Gators this season after winning bronze at the 2015 World Championships (Tim Binning)

Switkowski swam for Virginia Tech in his freshman year during the 2013-2014 season, but took last season off to focus on swim training in his home country. He certainly fits the bill of the typical Florida Gator, as he is talented in a variety of events, from freestyle to butterfly, and even IM. His yards personal best times are solid, but his performances at worlds show he has more. He went 1:54.2 in the 200 fly and 1:47.0 in the 200 free, making him a top tier contender in those events this season at NCAAs. Of course, it is difficult to know how ones long course performances translate to their short course yards swimming, but at the very least he should be able to deliver anything from a consolation final appearance to multiple medal performances at NCAAs.

Florida didn’t score 1, but 2 top-tier transfers this season. Transferring from Michigan is Florida native Alex Katz, who has some impressive long course best times of his own. Katz has been 1:50/3:53/8:04 in the 200/400/800 freestyles, 1:58 in the 200 back and 4:22 in the 400 IM long course, all very impressive. His yards time aren’t as impressive, so he and Switkowski will both have to work on how they can translate their long course success to SCY prosperity for the Gators this season.

Along with Switkowski and Katz, Florida landed plenty of solid recruits who will come in and help right away. Their top recruit was Brennan Balogh, who was the 16th ranked recruit in this class. Talented in multiple events, Balogh should be able to come in and score at the SEC level right from his freshman year. He specializes in the 200 back, 200 fly and IM events. They also picked up Corey Main’s brother, Bayley Main, who is a decent sprint freestyler. His long course best times of 23.5 and 51.4 definitely show signs of potential, and his 57.4 LC 100 back will also be an asset. Ross Palazzo and Alex Lebed are their other top swimming recruits. Palazzo is a breaststroker/IMer, and Lebed is a pure IMer with no standout stroke but also no relatively weak stroke. They both come in with times that would be good enough for C finals at SECs, but there is a lot of room for improvement. These recruits have a hard working, talented squad to get to know, train with, and ultimately learn from.

Diving

Florida is returning the one diver who scored at NCAAs last season, Zach Hernandez, who has been granted a redshirt and will return for this fall. Hernandez squeaked out a 16th place performance in the platform event at NCAAs, an impressive result considering he only finished in the top-16 in one of the three diving events at SECs (platform).

Last season freshman Robert Goss was Florida’s other lead diver, as he had two top-16 finishes at SECs (platform-15th, 3 meter-16th). Qualifying for his first NCAA Championship this season would be an impressive accomplishment as he heads into his sophomore year. This season Goss will be joined by incoming freshman Samuel Smith, who comes in with some impressive credentials. Smith had a pair of 4th place finishes at the USA Diving Junior Nationals in 2014 in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, and had his best senior national finish in 2012 where he was 14th on the platform at the National Diving Championships.

Other Key Swimmers

  • Corey Main will be a valuable asset for the Gators in his final season. Last season Main swam on 4 NCAA relays and came close to scoring individually in multiple events. He had top-8 finishes in all of his individual events at SECs, showing a wide range of versatility in the freestyle and backstroke events. He will be relied upon heavily again this season, especially in the relays.
  • Also going into his final year with Florida is Pawel Werner, who, like Main, was very valuable on the relays last year. Werner swam on the 200 and 800 free relays at NCAAs, and just missed scoring in his only individual event (200 Fr-17th). Werner was a workhorse at SECs, swimming on all three free relays and scoring in his individual events. Werner will be a key cog in the Florida machine this year.
  • Arthur Frayler is another one of Florida’s men who is entering his final season. Frayler had top-16 finishes at NCAAs in the 500 and 1650 freestyle events, and had top-8 finishes in the same events at SECs. He should be a good bet for another strong season and provide some points come NCAAs.
  • Backstroker Jack Blyzinskyj will be another key member of the Gators this season. Last season Blyzinskyj managed to score individually at NCAAs in the 100 backstroke and earned first team All-American honors in the 200 and 400 medley relays. Blyzinsky also had top-5 finishes at SECs in the 100 back and 100 fly, including finishing 2nd in the 100 back. He will likely be the Florida’s man again for the backstroke leg of the medley relays this season, something he has gotten a lot of experience doing his first two years in Florida.
  • Mark Szaranek burst onto the college swimming scene last season with some impressive performances in his freshman year. The man from Scotland finished 7th in the 400 IM, 10th in the 200 IM and was on Florida’s 10th place finishing 800 free relay at NCAAs, providing some valuable points. Of all returning swimmers, only Caeleb Dressel (35) scored more individual points at last years NCAAs than Szaranek did (19). Look for him to be a standout performer for Florida this season.
  • Along with Dressel and Szaranek, Mitch D’Arrigo will be very valuable for Florida this season. With the loss of Dan Wallace, D’Arrigo’s ability in the 200, 500 and 1650 freestyle events will become even more important. He was able to score in all three at NCAAs last season, and placed top-2 at SECs in all three. He will likely take on more of a leadership role this season with the losses of Wallace and Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, and will be the go-to guy to lead their 800 free relay into battle.

2015-2016 Outlook

Florida comes into the 2015-2016 season looking good. Despite enduring some tough losses from last season, they don’t have it as bad as some of their competition. They also have a solid recruiting class. Though not outstanding by any means, they gained two potential steals by way of transfers, as Jan Switkowski and Alex Katz join the squad. Both have more impressive credentials in long course, so if they can transfer that over to yards Florida could be even better than most expect.

Stanford, the team that finished behind Florida at NCAAs, are losing their top two swimmers David Nolan and Tom Kremer for the season, and Georgia, the team that finished behind Florida at SECs, lose both Nic Fink and Chase Kalisz for the season. Based off of that, Florida doesn’t look like they’ll move down at either championship meet this season, and should 4-peat as SEC champions. The 4 teams Florida trailed at NCAAs last season (Texas, Cal, Michigan, USC) all come in looking very good and will be difficult to overcome.

As it looks now, Florida is likely to repeat their finishing position from last year at both championship meets, but of course things can change in the blink of an eye. An interesting twist the Gators have in their schedule this season is they have a pair of long course dual meets against some SEC rivals. On October 30th they’ll battle Georgia, and on Janary 23rd they’ll face-off with Auburn (both at home). It’s something different and to keep your eye on, as the teams have many swimmers preparing not only for SECs and NCAAs, but also the Olympic Trials/Olympic Games later in the year.

All in all, Florida should be a very strong team this season. They have a wide range of talent throughout their roster, and look poised to win another SEC Championship title and place top-5 at NCAAs.

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Crannman
5 years ago

Pathetic to know that Dressel is Floridas best breaststroker . He hasn’t even broken 1:02 long course

swimdoc
Reply to  Crannman
5 years ago

And your time in the 100 breast is…?

Billabong
5 years ago

It’s even more concerning that they might make him lead the charge in breaststroke for them this year. It’s an Olympic year and Florida is taking one of the countries best sprint freestylers, and making him swim breaststroke “for the team”? Priorities, gentlemen, priorities…..

iLikePsych
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

“Ask not what you can do for your team, ask what you can do for your country”

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

Very pertinent remark BILLABONG . Have they not seen yet” enough ” where Usa men’s sprint is at the moment ?????? ??????? They need new fresh motivated / trained corrrectly sprinters to shine through for Trials ( in 10 months time ) if they don’t want to be ridiculous again on the 400 free relay alone . Come on !!! breasstroke for Dressel ??? He is the best chance with Adrian for the 50 free spot / and a solid addition for the relay .
I hope they find someone else quickly , oftherwise it’s not wise at all to keep that task on Dressle’s shoulders .

bobo gigi
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
5 years ago

😆

JP
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

Good grief. It’s a 50 and maybe a 100 breast in a relay. It’s not like he will be training breaststroke and it’s not like a couple of relays will take away from his sprinting abilities. Either way it’s just as likely he’d do fly in the medleys if that had a great breaststroker anyway (you know, like he did at times last year since he was their best flyer).

Rafael
Reply to  JP
5 years ago

You are right, we all know swimming 500 free and other stuff “for the team” didn´t create any problems for Missy right???

sven
Reply to  Rafael
5 years ago

Of course, just like we know that swimming the 500 is for sure what has caused Missy’s somewhat lackluster performance the past year or so.

swimdoc
Reply to  sven
5 years ago

Reading the posts through Worlds, I thought we were supposed to blame it all (including climate change) on McKeever.

JP
Reply to  Rafael
5 years ago

The 500 free is an entirely different domain than Missy’s core long course events. It requires different training.

Dressel’s a sprinter. The 50 and 100 breast in relays is a sprint. Do you think he’s going to have to take time away from his sprint training to do breaststroke technique work or something? Has Florent Manadou lost anything off of his 50 and 100 free now that he’s branching into the 50s of stroke?

swimdoc
Reply to  JP
5 years ago

Fortunately, at least a couple of his main competitors also waste their time swimming sprint breast in meets (Morozov, Manadou), so, with this logic, we can expect those guys to be non-factors in Rio, too. Poor Vlad and Flaurent—if they had only had good coaches to tell them never to swim the evil stroke. Racing is racing. Fast twitch is fast twitch. Power is power. Surely a few random 50 and 100 breasts at race pace are as transferable to a 50/100 free as any dryland exercise invented. If the only way to swim a fast 50 free is to swim fast 50 frees, there’s a lot of wasted workout time on land. Relays are fun. Let the kid score… Read more »

JP
Reply to  swimdoc
5 years ago

No. He must do 50 and 100 frees and only 50 and 100 frees. Warmup and cooldown must be in sets of 50s or 100s. Anything else and he’s taking away time from practicing those event.

sven
5 years ago

I don’t expect Caeleb to work on sprint free every minute of every practice. If they want to throw in some sprint breaststroke work here and there, do it. It’s not going to make him slower to spend a few minutes on breaststroke of the 2-4 hours he spends in the water each day. Think of Vlad. His last year in the NCAA, he CRUSHED the sprint free events, including his absurd 40.7 freestyle. I bet he worked a lot on sprint free, sure, but let’s not forget that he also did the breaststroke and went 52.01. So, for consistency’s sake, what I’m gonna need all of you to do is go to this link http://swimswam.com/vlad-morozov-breaks-cesar-cielos-ncaa-record-in-100-free/ and comment that Vlad… Read more »

swimdoc
Reply to  sven
5 years ago

We must have posted simultaneously — couldn’t agree more.

You can add Manadou into that list of sprint breast/free guys (http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/french-swimmer-florent-manaudou-competes-in-the-mens-50m-news-photo/484599953).

JP
Reply to  swimdoc
5 years ago

Plus fly and back. He did just win the World Champs in the 50 fly after all, and if I remember right he has put some decent 50 backs together in various places.

Billabong
Reply to  sven
5 years ago

Nobody cares how fast Vlad went in the 100yd free, or his 100yd Breast for that matter. The point is that he didn’t convert any of that college speed into LCM. This year at Kazan was just another example. LCM sprint freestyle focus must take priority. SEC points or an Olympic relay Gold? It’s a no brainier.

sven
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

Vlad was 47 in long course the summer after the NCAA meet in question, so I’m not sure how you’ve come to the conclusion that none of it transferred to LCM. Now, in finals at Worlds that summer, he did do poorly in the 100 free, but I’m more inclined to attribute that to his going out in 21.9 than his training in short course. It doesn’t matter what size pool you train in if you swim your race like an idiot.

swimdoc
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

Actually, a lot of people care about how fast Vlad went in SCY — as in nearly all American swimmers between the ages of 18-22 and those who were fortunate enough to swim in college. Since the London Olympics, Vlad has the third best 100 LCM free and tied for 5th in the 50 LCM free. He’s clearly been the fastest for his age with those times during that time period. So, as Sven pointed out, his college speed has translated into LCM success. No male sprinter has nailed every Worlds/Olympics/major international competition since the days of Popov and Biondi. The fact that Vlad didn’t at Worlds (he wasn’t the only Russion to do that — Efimova didn’t final in… Read more »

JP
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

Billabong, that would be a valid argument if those things were mutually exclusive. They are clearly not.

Billabong
Reply to  JP
5 years ago

I don’t think that even a small amount of training for Breastroke SEC points, is going to translate well into a gold medal on the 4x100m freestyle relay at the Olympics. Anybody who thinks that it will, is deluding themselves. How much serious breastroke training is Nathan Adrian doing?

JP
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

How long’s the kid been swimming for? He knows how to swim breaststroke. He’s not going to forget. If you really, honestly think a few relays exchanges and 50/100 breast sprints are going to have any effect at all on a 100 free sprint, 6 months after he swims them to boot, you do not have any understanding of adaptation or metabolic pathways.

As for your Nathan Adrian example – he swam the 100 fly at various PAC-12 and NCAA meets. In fact, he came in 8th in the 100 fly his senior year at NCAAs. He’s also 2nd all-time in Cal Bear history in the 200 free. Try again.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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