Florida’s Kieran Smith Posts Lifetime Best 100 Free in Dominant Win Over Auburn

FLORIDA vs. AUBURN

  • Jan. 25, 2020
  • Hosted by Florida
  • Short Course Yards
  • Full Results

TEAM SCORES

WOMEN

  1. Florida 161
  2. Auburn 137

MEN

  1. Florida 204
  2. Auburn 96

The Gator men were dominant against SEC rival Auburn in their dual meet on Saturday. The women’s meet was a much closer contest, but the Gators won handily on senior day. All-American and SEC Champion Kieran Smith set a new lifetime best.

In the 100 free, Smith broke 44 for the first time, winning by over a second in 43.50. He was just 2 tenths shy of another best time with his performance in the 100 back, winning in 47.96. Though teammate Grant Sanders (3:50.53) got off to the lead in the 400 IM, Smith took over on the back leg and pulled body lengths ahead of the field in 3:47.25 for a winning triple.

Fellow SEC Champion Bobby Finke swam his fastest in-season time ever in the 1000 free. His 8:57.47 was nearly 2 seconds faster than his former dual meet best. He finished just ahead of SEC Champion teammate Khader Baqlah (9:06.88). Baqlah went on to win the 500 free in 4:23.97.

Breaststroker Marco Guarente also put up a highlight for the Gator men, sweeping the breaststrokes. He touched in 54.27 to win the 100 breast and 1:59.07 to win the 200 breast.

The Florida women had 2 swimmers pull off a winning triple. One of those women was SEC Champion Sherridon Dressel, who swept the backstrokes. Dressel clocked in at 52.13 in the 100 back before dominating the 200 back in 1:53.38. Dressel also won the 100 fly in 52.81. All 3 of her times were season dual meet bests. Her 200 back time was just a couple of tenths shy of her lifetime best and a season best.

Vanessa Pearl swept the breaststrokes, clocking a 1:00.84 in the 100 and a 2:12.29 in the 200. In a close race with freshman teammate Kathleen Golding, Peal used her breaststroke speed to distance herself from Goulding and held on for a narrow win, 4:14.16 to 4:14.24.

Auburn’s Claire Fisch gave the Tigers a sprint sweep. She clocked a 22.66 in the 50 free and a 49.14 in the 100 free. Christian Sztolcman and Santiago Grassi kept the Gators from sweeping the men’s events. Sztolcman won the 200 free (1:37.45), while Grassi touched first in the 100 fly (47.60).

PRESS RELEASE – FLORIDA MEN

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In its first dual action in over two months, the No. 9 University of Florida swimming and diving team handled conference foe Auburn 204-96 in front of a capacity crowd at the O’Connell Center Natatorium on Saturday.

Prior to the meet, Florida recognized 11 seniors for their contributions to the Gator swimming and diving program.

Overall, UF walked away with 13 event victories, highlighted by registering the top-three finishes in the 200 back, 200 breast, 400 IM and 1,000 free (Friday night). The Tigers picked up their event wins in the 200 free, 100 fly and 1-meter dive.

Kieran Smith’s three-win performance helped the Gators (7-1) claim their second conference win of the season. Smith would post new career-bests in wins in the 100 free (43.50) and 100 back (47.96). His third and final win came in the 400 IM, beating the field by over two seconds.

Florida also controlled the relays, picking up wins in the 200 medley and 400 free.

Dakota MahaffeyMarco GuarenteEric Friese and Will Davis claimed the 200 medley win, combining for an effort of 1:27.83, less than a full second faster than Auburn’s top relay that finished second.

The 400 free relay was won by Khader BaqlahWill DavisEric Friese and Smith tallied an overall time of 2:56.85, just under three seconds faster than the runner-ups.

Alex Farrow would go out with a lifetime-best dive in his last competition at the O’Dome, winning the 3-meter with an overall tally of 370.28, 1.35 higher than his previous best.

Gator Splashes

  • Marco Guarente put together a two-win performance in his final meet at the O’Dome, winning the 100 breast (54.26) and 200 breast (1:59.07). His 100 time earned him a B-cut.
    • Fellow seniors Grant Sanders and Chandler Bray would join Guarente in the 100 breast to round-out the fastest three swims.
    • In the 200 breast, Bray would earn himself another third-place finish, hitting the wall in 2:06.83. Freshman Kevin Vargas would earn a runner-up bid with his effort of 2:02.72.
  • Robert Finke dominated the 1,000 free on Friday night, winning the event by six full seconds. He would improve on his previous lifetime-best in the event by almost two full seconds after hitting the wall. His time of 8:47.47 is tied for the second-best time this season.
  • Matthew Anderson would set two new personal-bests in both the distance races, touching the wall in 9:12.68 in the 1,000 free and posting a time of 4:29.19 in the 500 free. His new 1,000 breast best was cut by 11 seconds.
  • Also excelling in the distance events in his last meet in home water was Khader Baqlah. The senior won the 500 free with his swim of 4:23.97, six seconds faster than the second-place finisher. He also added a runner-up bid in the 1,000 as well.
  • Clark Beach, Finke and Ethan Beach stood at the top of the 200 back as the group would post the top-three swims. Clark Beach earned the victory with his swim of 1:43.78.
  • For the first time this season, Will Davis hit the wall in under 20 seconds in the 50 free as his effort of 19.98 gave him the win.
  • Miguel Cancel took the 200 fly title home with his swim of 1:48.11, the first victory of the season.
  • Gerry Quinn claimed a pair of second-place finishes with season-best swims the both the 100 and 200 free.
  • Joining Smith at the top of the 400 IM leaderboard was Grant Sanders and Finke. Sanders hit the wall in a B-cut effort of 3:50.53, good for second and Finke touched in third with his time of 3:56.05.

Series History

The win extends Florida’s dual win streak over Auburn to four, and improves its all-time record against the Tigers to 30-16.

On their current streak, UF has outscored Auburn by an overall tally of 732-465.

From 1999-2008, the Tigers had the upper hand, winning 10 straight meets over the Gators.

Quotables

Head coach Anthony Nesty
On swimming in front of a capacity crowd today…. 
“It makes it even more special (that it is Senior Day) because that means people not only came to watch the meet, but also to honor our seniors as well.”

On how they competed in the last home meet of the season… 
“I think the team swam real well. The seniors are sort of dear to my heart. This is only my second senior class and like I said before they’re dear to my heart. We have a long way to go still, but hopefully we will get the job done over the next three weeks.”

On what this senior class means to the Gator swimming program
“When I became the head coach, they really gelled as far as a team, as a group of young men. They adhere to our group values, which is honesty and respect and we’re going to continue to have that because the guys coming in, they obviously look to those guys so hopefully we can continue that tradition.”

Head diving coach Bryan Gillooly

On his emotions going into the dual…
“A lot of emotions today. I knew that was going to be the case. We had a tough competition against Auburn… It always comes down to a close meet so every point counts so that means your third, fourth and fifth-places count a lot too. It’s Senior Day so it’s the last home meets for Alex, Abby and Brooke tonight. A lot of excitement. The crowd here at the O’Dome is always loud and exciting as well so how are you going to handle that and how are you going to perform under that pressure, and to see them come through tonight (Friday), I couldn’t be happier.”

On what Senior Night means for his divers…
“It’s Senior Night. It means a lot to these kids. These kids are Gators. They’ve been here for a long time… This place means a lot and for it to be your last meet, you’re leaving something that is a big part of your life.”

On Alex Farrow
“Alex came in as a walk-on, high schooler diver with only a 1-meter list. He bought in to what we’re doing here and my vision. Through the thick and thin, ups and downs , he has had my back and I’ve had his, and this is the result. It means everything to me. I’m proud of him.”

Looking Ahead

Florida will finish the 2019-20 season portion of their schedule when they take on the No. 12 Volunteers in their season finale on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. in Knoxville.

The Gators will then enter championship season, beginning with the SEC Championships on Feb. 18-22 hosted by Auburn. Last season, the team won its seventh-straight conference title with 1,233 points over the four-day competition.

Next up on the docket after SEC’s will be the NCAA Diving Zones on March 9-11.

The team will then come back together for the 2020 NCAA Championships on March 25-28 in Indianapolis, Ind.

Follow the Gators:

FloridaGators.com | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook |

PRESS RELEASE – FLORIDA WOMEN


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – 
Sherridon Dressel and Vanessa Pearl each took home three event titles to lead the No. 7 University of Florida women’s swimming and diving team to a 161-137 Senior Day victory over No. 14 Auburn in front of a capacity crowd at O’Connell Center Notarium on Saturday afternoon.

Prior to the meet, Florida recognized 13 seniors for their contributions to the Gator swimming and diving program.

In addition to the three event wins by Dressel and Pearl, Florida remained undefeated on the season after getting a boost on the diving board as Brooke Madden swept both events in her first home action on the 2019-20 season. The senior would go on to post scores of 313.65 on the 1-meter and an overall tally of 337.35 on the 3-meter.

The 8-0 dual mark is the best start to a season since the 2002-03 team that went won its first nine duals on the season before losing to Auburn on Jan. 24, 2003.

To begin the meet, Auburn took home the first individual events of the competition in the 1,000 and 200 free. Dressel’s victory in the 100 back got the Gators on track, as the team would then win the next two races to regain momentum.

Overall, UF took home 10 events compared to Auburn’s six, including splitting the relays.

Florida took the 200 medley (Dressel, Kelly FertelTalia Bates and Bella Garofalo) posted the fastest time. The Tigers ended the meet with a relay win in the 400 free by just under two seconds.

Gator Splashes

  • Taylor Ault was able to get the Gators a distance win in the 500 free by just a touch, hitting the wall just .01 faster than Emily Hetzer from Auburn. Her time, 4:43.60, was good for a B-cut.
    • Kathleen Golding joined the event, and posted a third-place finish with her time of 4:49.72. The freshman would go on to place runner-up bids in the 200 free (1:49.04) and the 400 IM, just .08 seconds behind Pearl’s winning mark of 4:14.16.  Both times earned B-Cuts for the Florida pair.
  • On Friday, Leah Braswell set a new personal-best in the 1,000 free, posting a swim of 9:42.44. The effort was her new top time by over three seconds, the seventh-best in the NCAA and earned her a second-place finish.
  • Joining Dressel in the 100 back was Emma Ball, who finished behind the winning-effort tallied by Dressel with a runner-up bid of 55.07.
  • In her final meet at the O’Conner Center, Kelly Fertel earned a second-place finish in the 200 fly with her time of 2:00.15. Auburn’s Averee Preble would win the event with an effort of 1:59.95, just .20 seconds better than Fertel. She would also go on to finish in third in the 200 breast later in the meet with a swim of 2:14.19
  • Bella Garofalo competed in a tough 100 free event. Auburn posted the top two swims, but Garofalo’s third-place finish (49.75) was just .11 off a win, and .05 off a runner-up bid. In the 50 free, the senior would earn a fourth-place finish as the Tigers took the top-three spots.
  •  As Dressel took home the 200 back, Rosie Zavaros would round-out the top-three finishers as the sophomore hit the wall in 1:56.86. Dressel’s winning effort was 1:53.28.
  • Ashley McCool posted a 1-meter total of 304.50, good for second-place behind Madden.
  • As championship approaches, multiple Florida swimmers were out to claim cuts. Both Ault and Nikki Miller secured B-cuts with their efforts in the 1,650 free. Aul’s time of 16:03.06 would stand as ninth-best in the nation, and Miller’s effort of 16:12.50 would place her with the seventh-best swim in the SEC.

Series History

Florida improves to 25-16 all-time against Auburn. The Gators were able to snap a three-meet losing streak that dated back to the 2016-17 season.

From 1972-96, Florida remained undefeated against their conference foe, compiling 17 wins in a row.

Auburn’s longest win streak stands at 11, as the Tigers strung together wins in every matchup from 1994-2006, excluding the 1995-96 season.

Quotables

Head coach Jeff Poppell– “
On the team’s performance today….
“We won. That was a great way to end Senior Day, Senior Week and I thought our team did a phenomenal job today. It wasn’t it a pretty meet. It wasn’t a perfect meet by any means…Auburn is a terrific team. They definitely came prepared and ready to compete with us today and gave us a great test. We’re appreciative of that because I think that is only going to make us stronger heading into SEC’s and NCAA’s.”

On getting tested by Auburn… 
“I thought our girls handled the competition really, really well. We had some phenomenal performances from some key individuals in places and opportunities that we needed them. And again, that gives me a lot of confidence as we go through the rest of the season that have people like that can pull us out of adverse situations over the course of a meet, which is normal. You never have a meet that goes perfectly.”

On the emotions of Senior Day… 
“There were a lot of emotions today with it being Senior Day. I think that might’ve hurt us in some cases with some of our seniors… This senior class, by far, is the greatest group of seniors that I’ve associated with in my 27 years of coaching. Truly the best group of leaders, collectively, that I’ve ever been associated with. They mean a lot to the program, and to me personally, so it was as emotional for me as it was for them.”

Head diving coach Bryan Gillooly
On his emotions going into the dual…
“A lot of emotions today. I knew that was going to be the case. We had a tough competition against Auburn… It always comes down to a close meet so every point counts so that means your third, fourth and fifth-places count a lot too. It’s Senior Day so it’s the last home meets for Alex, Abby and Brooke tonight. A lot of excitement. The crowd here at the O’Dome is always loud and exciting as well so how are you going to handle that and how are you going to perform under that pressure, and to see them come through tonight (Friday), I couldn’t be happier.”

On what Senior Night means for his divers…
“It’s Senior Night. It means a lot to these kids. These kids are Gators. They’ve been here for a long time… This place means a lot and for it to be your last meet, you’re leaving something that is a big part of your life.”

On Abby Howell…
“Abby- a fifth-year senior. She has been a great captain in the past. Great leader. Always someone I can count on. Great diver as well. She’s set the table for this new group coming in.”

On Brooke Madden
“Been at nationals at all three years, looking to make it back again. (She was) an All-American last year. Honorable-mention All-American the year before. She’s kind of carried us during in a down-time for the women’s team. You see them build up,  that’s because of her.”

Looking Ahead

Florida will look to remain undefeated on the year when it travels to Knoxville to face-off with the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers in their season-finale on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. ET.

The Gators will then enter championship season, beginning with the SEC Championships on Feb. 18-22 hosted by Auburn. Last season, the team finished in second-place, its best conference championship finish since 2011.

Next up on the docket will be the NCAA Diving Zones on March 9-11.

The team will then come back together for the 2020 NCAA Championships on March 18-21 in Athens, Ga.

Follow the Gators:

FloridaGators.com | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook |

PRESS RELEASE – AUBURN

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The goal for Auburn swim and dive this weekend was to go out and compete hard, to fight. The Tigers did that, setting numerous season-best times, but it wasn’t enough as the men’s and women’s teams fell short at Florida in the season’s final dual meet.

In a battle of top-15 teams, the No. 14 Auburn women hung with No. 8 Florida throughout the meet before ultimately falling by a score of 161-137.

The Tigers started strong Friday night with sophomore Emily Hetzer swimming a season-best 9:40.55 to win the 1,000 freestyle. All three Auburn swimmers (Hetzer, Averee Preble and Zoe Gawronska) set season-best times in the event.

The highlight for Auburn on Saturday came in the 50 and 100 free events. Senior Claire Fisch won both races with times of 21.65 and 49.14. She was followed by freshman AJ Kutsch and senior Julie Meynen in the 50 free as the Tigers finished with a 1-2-3 sweep. Meynen also placed second in the 100 free, finishing in 49.20.

Abbey Webb and Preble, both freshmen, also won individual races in the 200 free and 200 butterfly respectively. Preble’s time (1:59.95) was a new personal best.

“I thought the women had some really good performances,” Auburn head coach Gary Taylor said. “Our superstars continue to step up and get big wins and big swims for us, but I thought we also had some of our role players step up.

“We thought we had an opportunity to win the meet and we fell short, but I think there are some things we can certainly pat ourselves on the back about and feel positive about. And at the same time, there are some things we can work on and work to get better as we look toward the SEC Championships.”

On the men’s side, Auburn suffered a 204-96 defeat to No. 8 Florida.

The two wins on the swimming side came from sophomore Christian Sztolcman in the 200 free and senior Santiago Grassi in the 100 fly, but there were other standout performances and season-best times, including Aryan Makhija (1,000 free), Thomas Heinzel (100 free), Nik Eberly (50 free) and Christian Ginieczki (100 and 200 fly).

“There were certainly some things to be happy about and build off of,” Taylor said. “We did a lot of in-season best performances today, but the championship runs through Florida and we’re not there yet. We’re looking to learn and grow from this and build off it.”

Both the men and women finished the season with a 5-2 record in dual meets.

DIVING RECAP 

Senior Alison Maillard, the lone diver to travel on the women’s side, earned a pair of top-three finishes. She took third in the 1-meter on Friday night with 296.93 points and then returned Saturday with 317.55 points to place second in the 3-meter competition.

The Auburn men went 1-2-3 in Saturday’s 1-meter event with all three divers earning zone qualifying scores. Sophomore Conner Pruitt bounced back from a subpar performance the night before with 347.63 points to win the event while junior Logan Andrews (325.95) and freshman Skip Donald (316.58) finished second and third respectively.

It was a breakthrough meet for Donald who set personal bests in both competitions. Donald scored 352.88 points to lead Auburn and take second in Friday’s 3-meter event.

“Skip did a great job on the 3-meter,” head diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. “A personal best to grab second place. He’s really started to come on strong. I look forward to three weeks of training to get a little sharper for SECs for all of them.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The Tigers will host the Auburn Invitational next month, Feb. 7-9, and then later in the month, they will be back in their home pool for this year’s SEC Championships. The five-day event runs from Tuesday, Feb. 18 through Saturday, Feb. 22.

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Corey

Florida was the HOME team (not on the road). It was their senior dwy.

Redneckhillbilly

Looks like the Gator Gals gonna get trampled bye them Coonskinned Girlie Vols! As far as the main event in which the Manly Gators will try to swim fast in the orange tinted waters of the Barefooted Coonskinted Boys of the hills in TN – my bet is them MANVols will surprise the Gator world by swimmin and divin like they used ta back in t glory days. Go Vols!!!!

Aquajosh

Sherridon Dressel is going to be really good in the postseason. She nearly even split that 200 back. Kieran Smith is on another level. He swam the 400 IM in 3:47 and then only had the women’s 400 free relay to rest before he came back to anchor the men’s relay with the fastest split of 43.5. I really like the way Florida’s women are looking right now. Depending on how rested Tennessee is for the meet, this could be the year the Florida men and women win SECs together.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She is now coaching for Loggerhead Aquatics in her hometown …

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