Florida Freshmen Win 5 as Gator Women Roll Miami (FL)

Isabella Marley/University of Florida

University of Florida Gators vs. Miami Hurricanes

  • Thursday, November 5, 2020
  • Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards)
  • Results
  • Final Score: Florida 190 – Miami 94 (exhibition aided)

After falling last week to Georgia in their season opener, the Florida Gators came out on fire on Thursday in a dual meet with Miami.

The Florida women finished 1-2-3 in the 200 medley relay, splitting fairly even relays that were in total separated by only .36 seconds, the Gators rolled to a nearly 100-point margin over Miami, using a few late-meet exhibition swims to limit the damage.

Florida won all 12 swimming events on the day, while Miami’s powerful diving group swept the springboard events, led by sophomore Mia Vallee, who won on both 1-meter and 3-meter.

“We did use today as an opportunity to swim around some people in different events, which I think is good for them but at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to evaluate our team a little bit better,” Florida head coach Jeff Poppell said after the meet.

“We learned a lot about our individuals and I definitely feel a lot better where we are now versus where we were a week ago.”

Gator times indicated that they were in fairly heavy training, though there were still a handful of season-best times. Senior Nikki Miller, who earned her first career NCAA Championship qualification in the mile last season before those championships were canceled, swam season-bests in winning both the 200 and 500 yard freestyles.

In the 200 free, she swam 1:48.15 to out-touch her sophomore transfer teammate Katie Mack (1:49.36), and in the 500 free she won in 4:53.01 by a more comfortable two-and-a-half seconds ahead of another freshman teammate Kathleen Golding (4:55.62).

That time in the 500 for Miller is about 2 seconds better than she was this same weekend last season, while her 200 free is similar to this time last season.

These results highlight 2020-2021 as a transition year for the Gators as the waning of the Gregg Troy era to the rising momentum of the Jeff Poppell era, with Miller leading a big group of freshmen coming up behind her in those races.

There were a number of freshman winners for the Gators on Thursday. That includes Cecilia Porter in the 100 breast (1:01.82), Kenady Beil in the 200 fly (1:59.44), Chloe Grimme in the 50 free (23.40), Annette Schultz in the 100 free (51.66), and Kathleen Golding in the 200 IM (2:01.51).

Florida is done with dual meets for the semester in this unusual truncated season, with the Auburn Invite from November 16-18 coming up to wrap their fall swimming schedule. Miami will race cross-town foes FIU in a dual meet on Monday.

Press Releases

Courtesy: University of Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida women’s swimming and diving got back on track with a 190-94 victory over in-state rival Miami on Thursday at the Ann Marie Rogers Swimming and Diving Pool inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The No. 10 Gators (1-1) would post the top effort in all 14 swimming events throughout the meet, highlighted by the top three times in five individual events.  Additionally, a total of five swimmers would notch their first victory in the Orange and Blue.

Nikki Miller and Annette Schultz led UF in the pool with their pair of individual victories in the home opener. Miller would go on to touch first in the 200 free with an effort of 1:48.15 and the 500 free with a time of 4:53.01.

Schultz earned her first career win as a Gator after winning the 100 back with an effort of 55.58, shaving .11 seconds off her swim from last week. She posted her second winning effort on the day in the 100 free by .20 seconds.

The Gators would win both relays to start and finish Thursday’s in-state battle. UF claimed the top three spots in the 200 medley relay in the first event of the dual, highlighted by the top effort of 1:43.64 by Rosie ZavarosCecilia PorterChade Nersicio and Bettina Boszormenyi.

Florida’s A-relay of Vanessa Pearl, Miller, Taylor Ault and Kirschtine Balbuena capped off the meet with the top 400 free combined time, touching in 3:27.04.

Gator Splashes

  • Katie MackChloe GrimmeKenady Beil and Cecilia Porter all joined Schultz by reeling in their first Gator victory in the first home appearance of their career.
    • Mack took home the 100 fly crown with the top time of 56.63, while also finishing behind Miller with a swim of 1:49.36 in the 200 free.
    • Grimme (23.40) would out touch Balbuena in the 50 free to claim the first-place finish. Ria Malhotra came in third in the event as Florida swept the top-three spots. Grimme would later post a second-place effort of 51.86 in the 100 free behind Schultz.
    • Beil finished first by almost four full seconds in the 200 fly to post the top time of 1:59.44, improving on her effort from Florida’s dual with Georgia by .99 seconds.
    • Lastly, Porter also improved on her 100 breast time from her collegiate debut, meeting the B standard for the event again with her time of 1:01.82. Additionally, she would post the second-fastest time in the 200 IM (2:06.54).
  • To begin the individual portion of the dual, Taylor Ault won her first event of her senior year with the top 1,000 free time of 10:04.52. Finishing behind Ault was Elise Bauer, who touched in 10:07.43. Bauer also improved on her time from last week, cutting her swim by four full seconds.
  • Ashley McCool and Elizabeth Perez led the women’s diving efforts on Thursday.
    • Perez finished in second-place with a 3-meter tally of 341.48, while McCool would finish right behind her in third-place an effort of 339.60, marking less than four points from the top spot to third-place. McCool would tally the best Gator finish with her third-place nod of 286.5 on the 1-meter springboard.
  • Tylor Mathieu and Kathleen Golding won their first event of their sophomore season in the Orange and Blue.
    • Mathieu took home the top time in the 200 breast by almost three seconds, touching the wall in 2:18.14. She posted a runner-up bid in the 100 breast earlier in the meet.
    • Golding also posted her individual win by a large margin, touching five seconds faster than anyone else in the 200 IM.  Earlier in the contest, she would post the second-fastest 500 free time behind Miller.
  • Florida found success in both back events, registering the top-three swims in each. In the 100 back, Zavaros and Boszormenyi finished in second and third behind Schultz. In the 200, Celi Guzman led the way with a time of 2:00.49, while Zavaros posted another runner-up bid. Pearl registered an effort of 2:02.19 to round out the top finishers.


Head coach Jeff Poppell

On today’s meet – “It was good. I think I said it last week after we competed with Georgia, it was the first time these ladies have competed in about eight months so we’re in a situation where we need more than anything, the opportunity to race. Even today’s competition against Miami, you saw the improvements versus a week ago. We did use today as an opportunity to swim around some people in different events, which I think is good for them but at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to evaluate our team a little bit better. Like I said, I was really pleased. We had a lot of first-time event winners. We’ve had some younger swimmers in our program a year ago, or the year before, that were kind of depth-people, maybe. We’d go to meets and they wouldn’t be people winning events. Now they’re in a situation as juniors and seniors that we’re looking upon them to win events and to be leaders, and they’re doing that…I feel like from last week’s meet to today’s meet with Miami – we learned a lot. We learned a lot about our team. We learned a lot about our individuals and I definitely feel a lot better where we are now versus where we were a week ago.”

On the challenges they’ve faced since the end of last season- “Two things. Most summers in any swimming program, you’re still competing. You’re still competing long-course meters, and no one even had that opportunity to do that, so it truly has been eight months (since anyone has raced). One of the girls swimming an event today said, ‘I haven’t swam this event in a whole year.’ It was the mid-season meet a year ago and that kind of tells you something. We had a lot of people that swam races today that wasn’t necessarily smartly swum. They got out too fast or too slow, not very good in the middle. I think that can all be chalked up to race experience. We haven’t had enough of it. Every competition to us is a valuable one because it gives us an opportunity to get that needed race experience that’s missing and that we didn’t even have the chance to do during the course of the summer months. In terms of the biggest challenges of, not just the offseason, but what we’re facing this fall when it relates to new life with COVID, it’s just team camaraderie. We can’t do anything as a team. We have to do everything in smaller groups. I think that sense of camaraderie has been really hard to generate that and create that when we’re always doing things in smaller groups and not necessarily in a full-team setting. It is what it is. Everybody is faced with the same challenge around the country right now. We’re trying to do the best job that we can to create that cohesiveness, but just doing it in a different way.”

Head diving coach Bryan Gillooly

On what it means to already have two competitions under their belts- Without having the competitions, it’s harder to figure out and pin-point areas you need to work on. Now we know those. Specifically where we can improve. We’re going to be going up against Miami again in December. They’re going to be better. We’re going to be better so we’re looking forward to getting back tomorrow and start practice already and start working on those weak areas.”

On his group of women’s divers this season- “The group we have this year (on the women’s side) has a lot of returners from last year. We had a strong team already. They’re just one year better. I think the culture on the team is improving all the time and we added a couple on the men’s side that really helped the women’s team as well. Competing with those guys every day in practice and seeing how hard they work is motivating the girls a lot so we’re going to come back that much better (at SEC’s) this year.”

Series History

Florida improves to 29-2 all-time against the Hurricanes, winning the last 29 duals after losing the first two matchups between the programs during the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons.

Coach Poppell now moves to 3-0 all-time versus the in-state rival, outscoring Miami by an overall tally of 583-279.

What’s Next

With today’s win, Florida will end the 2020 portion of their dual meet schedule with a 1-1 mark.

Some members of the team will get back into pool with the US Open in Sarasota next week on Nov. 12-14. Swimming will wrap up on Nov. 18-20 at the Auburn Invitational.

Divers will take to the boards in the final competition of the fall at the Miami Diving Invitational on Dec. 2-4 in Coral Gables.

Florida jumps back into action at the Ann Marie Rogers Swimming and Diving Pool in their final home meet of the season on Jan. 9, 2021 against Texas A&M before wrapping up the season with their final dual of the regular season at Auburn on Jan. 23.

Courtesy: Miami Athletics:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes swimming & diving team opened its season Thursday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, facing off against host Florida in its first competition of the year.

Though the Hurricanes fell to the Gators, 190-94, head swimming coach Andy Kershaw and head diving coach Randy Ableman came away encouraged with the early returns.

Sophomore diver Mia Vallée was Miami’s top performer of the day, sweeping both diving events. Vallée, an NCAA Championships qualifier a season ago, won the 1-meter with a score of 308.40 and the 3-meter with a score of 343.35.

Ableman was especially pleased with the divers’ effort given the nature of Thursday’s competition.

“I’m very proud of how we did,” Ableman said. “These competitions are exciting and tough, and as far as the diving goes, we roll in there early in the morning, have a short workout and start competing. Not a lot of time to get used to facility or anything, but I’m really proud of how we competed.”

Junior captain Millie Haffety took second on the 1-meter (289.95) and fourth on the 3-meter (316.50).

“Mia dove consistently, showed a lot of progress in what we’ve been working on and competed really well,” Ableman said. “Millie was also a highlight. Her performance today was better than where we were when we were trying to qualify for NCAAs last March. Both showed lots of progress, and I’m really proud of them.”

On the swimming side, Miami’s top entry in the 200-yard medley relay – comprised of two freshmen, one sophomore and one senior – finished with a time of 1:46.19. Lucy Ho and Emma Sundstrand were making their collegiate debuts in the event, teamed with sophomore Isabel Traba and senior co-captain Sydney Knappp.

After a third-place finish from sophomore Adrianna Cera in the 1000-yard freestyle (10:15.95), freshman Savannah Barr scored points for Miami with a third-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle (1:50.89).

“We certainly had some spots where I was really proud of how the women attacked their races,” Kershaw said. “That was one of the things that we were a little more focused on today – finding the edge, finding the limit. In some cases, we did that and it worked out and led to some great swims.”

Senior Alaina Skellett was fourth in the 100-yard backstroke (57.64) and Sundstrand took third in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.74).

“It was good to see their willingness to go out and do it. There were a lot of really good races with the Gators,” Kershaw said. “We didn’t come out on top and do all of the things we were hoping to do going up there, but I think we came away with some good things and things to work on.”

Traba was third in the 200-yard butterfly (2:04.15) and Barr added an impressive time of 52.02 in the 100-yard freestyle, good for fourth in the event. Sundstrand took second in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:21.72) to add to a strong debut meet.

Traba posted a time of 57.75 in the 100-yard butterfly and Sundstrand went 2:06.68 in the 200-yard IM to close the individual events, and the Hurricanes’ top entry in the 400-yard freestyle – comprised of Barr, Carmen San Nicolas, Cera and Knapp , was second with a time of 3:30.77.

Miami has a quick turnaround, hosting FIU in a dual meet on Mon., Nov. 9.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time, and we’ve got to keep moving from there. It was good to get racing again,” Kershaw said. “We have to keep sharpening the edge and we’ll get to it. It was a great opportunity to rep The U and the team did that well. Now, we’re looking forward to continuing to race.”

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Dan Flack
1 year ago

Nice job PorterHouse

1 year ago

Katie Mack is not a freshman. She swam for NCST last year — she’s a transfer sophomore.

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