Courtesy: Florida Athletics
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida men’s swimming and diving is set to open up their season on Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. against conference rival Georgia at Gabrielsen Natatorium.
The meet will be streamed on SEC Network+ and live results will be made available through the MeetMobile App and Georgia’s website. On Tuesday, Georgia announced a no-spectator policy for the fall portion of their 2020 schedule for competition at Gabrielsen.
After their opening clash with Georgia, Florida will send a handful of swimmers to the Toyota US Open on Nov. 12-14 in Sarasota, Fla. Due to COVID, USA Swimming has scattered the event across nine regional sites. Rather than the approximate 800 swimmers in one location, each site will host around 200 athletes. Just a few days later, UF will compete in the Auburn Fall Invite on Nov. 18-20 and then will proceed to wrap-up 2020 competition with the Miami Diving Invitational on Dec. 2-4 in Coral Gables, Fla.
Preseason Gator Splashes
- The Gators will open up two-time SEC Coach of the Year Anthony Nesty’s third season ranked No. 3 in the preseason College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Top 25 Poll, the highest of any SEC team.
- This year’s team will consist of 25 returners from their eighth-straight SEC Championship campaign in 2019-20. Among the returners are 12 All-Americans, 10 All-SEC team honorees and a trio of SEC All-Freshman members.
- The team will add 16 newcomers to offset losing 11 swimmers and divers to graduation in 2019-20.
- After stellar sophomore campaigns, American record holders and SEC event champions Kieran Smith (2020 SEC Male Swimmer of the Year) and Robert Finke will return to lead Florida. Smith earned seven All-American honors (the most possible) last season to go along with three SEC event championships, a new 500 free American record and a new SEC and UF 200 free record. Finke posted the fastest time ever in the 1,650 free by six full seconds at SEC’s, while also earning an additional pair of All-American accolades and top-three SEC finishes in the 500 free (fifth-fastest in the nation) and 400 IM.
- Will Davis and Clark Beach return after earning All-American nods in back-to-back seasons. Davis, a seven-time All-American, posted career bests in the 100 fly and 50 free at SEC’s, as well as being a key member of three Florida relays that medaled in Auburn. Beach, a member of the US National Team, earned All-SEC First Team honor as a member of Florida’s SEC Championship Record 800 free relay. Individually, Beach posted a second-place finish in the 200 back, medaling for the second time of his career and tallying the seventh-fastest time in the nation.
- Isaac Davis, Miguel Cancel, Eric Friese, Brennan Gravley, Dillon Hillis, Gerry Quinn and Kevin Vargas will head into this season after earning their first career All-American honors a season ago. Hillis exploded at SEC Championships, posting an A-cut in the 100 breast with his third-place time of 51.28 (fourth-fastest in nation). The time also sits as the second fastest in program history.
- Gravley, Vargas and Friese were named to the All-Freshman SEC team. All three qualified for an A-final in their first conference competition- Gravley (1,650 Free), Friese (100 Fly) and Vargas (400 IM)- to earn the honor. Gravley’s mile time was good enough for a bronze medal in his first conference championship action.
- After competing in just two meets last season due to an injury, 2018-19 All-American and All-SEC First team honoree Trey Freeman will look to make his anticipated return to the water for UF.
The Gators and Bulldogs have been long-time rivals, competing in 81 matchups over the history of both programs. Florida currently leads the all-time series with an overall record of 60-18-3, including a 6-3-1 tally in the last 10 duals. Last year, the two faced off on Nov. 1 in Gainesville in the Gators’ home opener. Florida would walk away victorious, claiming a 163-118 victory as six different Gators would go on to win eight individual events, including taking the top-three spots in the 50 free, 100 fly and 100 breast. UF would sweep the 200 medley and 400 free relays as well.
This year’s season opener marks the first season opener against an SEC opponent since 2014-15 versus Arkansas. Additionally, this year’s matchup is the first time since the 2011-12 season that UF started their regular season in October (All-Florida Invite on Oct. 7-9). Finally, Oct. 30 is the latest start date to a regular season since 2000-01 when the Gators lost to Alabama 127-110 on Oct. 21 in Tuscaloosa
The 2020-21 opener will mark the 16th time these two programs have faced off in Florida’s first meet of the season. In those matchups, the Gators hold a 14-1 record. The last time the Gators and Bulldogs met to open up UF’s season was during the 1993-94 season. The only loss in a season opener versus Georgia came in 1952.