While Florida head coach Gregg Troy is declining to comment on whether newcomers Sophia Batchelor and Amelia Maughan will compete this weekend against Florida State, the two are both eligible to compete in the spring semester of 2015, according to a team spokesperson.
Whether those first races come this weekend or later in the semester, their additions at any time between now and March make the Florida women legitimate NCAA title contenders (though, they won’t impact our power rankings until they’ve swum their first races).
The two join Theresa Michalak, who says she is swimming this weekend, in huge mid-year pickups for the Gators.
Batchelor is a New Zealand native who is transferring to Florida after one season spent with the Cal Golden Bears. In her freshman season at Cal, Batchelor finished 16th at NCAA’s in the 100 fly individually, 21st in the 200 back, and 17th in the 200 fly, while also splitting a 51.62 in the 100 fly in prelims of the 400 medley relay. That split was the fastest of any butterflier among teams who made the A-Final, though Batchelor was still replaced by Rachel Bootsma in finals.
The Florida 200 and 400 medley relays graduated both breaststroker Hilda Luthersdottir and butterflier Elise Zalewski off of last year’s team, where both finished in the top 4 at NCAA’s. Adding possibly Michalak, and almost definitely Batchelor, to those relays along with Sinead Russell on the backstroke allows sophomore star Natalie Hinds to remain on the Gators’ freestyle leg. That’s a relay that can once again contend with the likes of Tennessee, Cal, Stanford, and Georgia for the NCAA relay titles, and might even become a favorite depending on how well the international swimmers adapt to yards swimming.
The other addition, Maughan, is not yet as well-known internationally as Batchelor and Michalak, but she’s heading that way and is still a huge addition. She was a member of Team England at this summer’s Commonwealth Games that included spots on both the 400 free relay that took silver (prelims swimmer) and the 800 free relay that took bronze (finals swimmer).
In long course, Maughan has best times of (converted times in parenthesis):
- 50 free – 25.68 (22.4)
- 100 free – 55.36 (48.4)
- 200 free – 1:59.35 (1:44.6)
Those are all immediate-impact times, and she might just be the piece that Florida needs to get on top of the podium in March.
Florida didn’t have a very big class of incoming American freshman this season, indicating that coach Troy might have something up his sleeve. Including transfers and red-shirt freshmen, 7 out of 11 new competitors for the Gators are internationals (7 out of 8 if we exclude divers in the tally).
While Troy has been mum about when the influx of talent might officially begin competing, Batchelor was at home in New Zealand over the Christmas holiday.