Courtesy: Florida Athletics
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators women’s swimming and diving will begin the 2020-21 season in a top-10 showdown with Georgia on Friday, Oct. 30 at 10:00 a.m. inside Gabrielsen Natatorium.
Florida fans can catch the action on SEC Network+, or follow along with live results on the MeetMobile app and Georgia’s website. On Tuesday, the University of Georgia Athletic Association announced a no spectator policy for the entirety of their 2020 fall slate.
The Gators will experience a quick turnaround as they welcome the Miami Hurricanes to Gainesville for their season opener on Nov. 5 at 10:30 a.m. The general public will not be permitted to attend.
A week later, Florida will send representatives to the Toyota US Open in Sarasota, Fla. from Nov. 12-14. This year, USA Swimming has split up the event throughout nine different regional sites across the country. Swimming competition in 2020 will conclude with the Auburn Invitational on Nov. 18-20 at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center, while divers will hit the boards in the Miami Diving Invitational on Dec. 2-4 as the last event of the fall portion of the schedule.
Preseason Gator Splashes
- Florida enters head coach Jeff Poppell’s third season at the helm of the program as the No. 10 team in the opening College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Poll for the second straight season. Last year, UF jumped all the way to the top spot in the second poll after a 5-0 start and stayed ranked No. 1 for almost two full months.
- The 2020-21 squad will feature 23 returners and 12 newcomers. Eight All-Americans, four All-SEC honorees and a pair of All-SEC Freshman Team member will highlight returners who posted an overall record of 8-1 last season (best since 2007-08) and back-to-back second-place team finishes at SEC’s.
- 13 athletes collected 36 All-America honors a year ago, with Vanessa Pearl leading all returners with five distinctions. Heading into her junior season, she is a seven-time All-American, owns two school records and has received All-SEC Second Team recognition twice.
- Talia Bates, Leah Braswell, Kathleen Golding, Gabby Hillis and Nikki Miller all return after earning their first All-American honor of their career. Hillis ended her junior season at SEC’s with new top-10 swims in the 50 and 100 free, as well as being member of three top-10 program relays.
- Pearl (400 IM), Braswell (1,650 free) Elizabeth Perez (3-meter) and Emma Whitner (Platform) notched a top-three finish at last season’s SEC meet to lead Florida with individual podium stops.
- Diving will return four key members of a group that accumulated the most points of any team at SEC’s, registering 228 points and almost doubling their closest competitor. Ashley McCool earned a pair of NCAA Championships bids and Perez (3-M) and Whitner (Platform) each earned their first SEC medal finish a year ago.
- The program set three program records in the classroom: Scholar All-Americans (24), SEC Honor Roll (34) and Team GPA (3.80).
- Prior to the cancellation of the NCAA Championships, Pearl and Braswell each owned top-16 seeds in the nation- Braswell: 3rd, 1,650 free & 13th, 500 free/Pearl: 7th, 400 IM & 11th, 200 IM
- After losing 13 swimmers and divers to graduation last season, UF will revamp their roster with 12 newcomers, including two transfers in Katie Mack (NC State) and Annette Schultz (Louisville).
Long-time rivals, Florida and Georgia will face off for the 34th time this year. UF is currently on a two-meet win streak after picking up wins last season in Gainesville and in 2018-19, the first UF victory in Athens since 1993. The matchup between the two programs last season was Florida’s first home meet of the season and saw the Gators winn seven individual events and a pair of relays en route to their sixth-straight victory to start off the season, marking the best dual start to a campaign since the 2002-03 Gators that got off to an 9-0 start.
The first season opener against an SEC opponent since 2014-15 versus Arkansas. The first time since the 2011-12 season that UF started their regular season in October (All-Florida Invite on Oct. 7-9). The latest start date to a regular season since 2000-01 when the Gators defeated Alabama 136-102 on Oct. 21 in Tuscaloosa
The Gators have faced the Bulldogs in three other season openers in program history, holding a 3-0 record in those meets. The last time the two competed in UF’s first meet of the season came in 1993-94 when the Gators pulled out a 123-120 victory. The year prior, Florida handled the Dawgs with a final score of 210-86. The first time came during the 1988-89 season (72-65).