Florida vs. Nova Southeastern (men) vs. Arkansas (women)
- September 23, 2022
- SCY (25 yards)
- Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida
- Full PDF Results
On Friday, the Florida men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams opened their season at home, with the men facing NOVA Southeastern and the women facing Arkansas. The Florida men beat the NOVA Southeastern men with a score of 244 to 44, while the Florida women beat the Arkansas women 219 to 79.
This meet marked the debut of several newcomer Gators, such as highly-touted freshmen Josh Liendo and Hayden Miller and recent transfers Jake Mitchell and Nina Kucheran. However, two transfers missing from this meet were Emma Weyant and Caroline Pennington. Both swimmers entered the transfer portal after May 1 (the transfer deadline for winter sports) this year, and need a waiver in order to get cleared for competition this season. Florida recently told SwimSwam that Weyant had not cleared her NCAA waiver yet.
None of the teams were wearing tech suits for this meet.
The Florida men dominated NOVA Southeastern, winning every single individual and relay event. They kicked things off with the 200 medley relay, where Adam Chaney (22.53), Dillon Hillis (25.18), Josh Liendo (20.74), and Alberto Mestre (19.59) won by over two seconds in a time of 1:28.04. In fact, the Gators ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams finished second and third respectively in this relay, although the ‘C’ relay swam exhibition and their performance didn’t count for any points.
The first individual event of the day was won by 2022 U.S. Open Water World Championships team member Brennan Gravley, who clocked a 9:09.98 in 1000 free. Following him was Canadian freshman Eric Brown, who went 9:11.61.
In the 200 free, Julian Smith led of trio of 1:37s in an incredibly tight race. He touched first in 1:37.56, Jake Mitchell was second in 1:37.57, and Oskar Lindholm was third in 1:37.59. This meet was Smith’s first time swimming the 200 free since 2018, so he dropped over ten seconds off his previous best time of 1:49.15. Following that, Chaney won the 100 back (48.45), Hillis won the 100 breast (55.39), and Billy Jones won the 200 fly (1:49.00).
Canadian World Championships medalist Josh Liendo made his individual NCAA debut in the 50 free, where he clocked a time of 19.69 to hit his first-ever NCAA ‘B’ cut. Also getting under 20 seconds in that was was Mestre, who went 19.97. Then came the 100 free, where Smith went yet again another best time to claim victory. He put up a 43.53, which beats out his previous best time of 44.90 set back in March 2021. Mestre and Trey Freeman hit 44-point times in this race, with Mestre going 44.31 and Freeman going 44.47.
Chaney made it a backstroke sweep when he won the 200 back in 1:49.11, although Kevin Vargas was not that far behind with a time of 1:49.67. Chaney, who is stronger at the sprint backstrokes, raced his first 200 back since January 2020 this meet and dropped substantially from his previous best of 1:54.51. Then, Raphael Windmuller won the 200 breast (2:00.13) and Jake Mitchell won the 500 free by three seconds (4:24.92), holding 26-high and 27-low splits for most of his race but coming home in a 24.87 final 50.
In the 100 fly, Liendo claimed his second victory of the day, clocking a 48.06. However, Jace Crawford was just 0.3 seconds behind, touching second in 48.36. Then, Vargas won the 200 IM, which was the final individual event, in 1:46.80. There was also an exhibition 400 IM contested afterwards, where Gravley took first with a time of 3:55.29.
Florida closed things off with the 400 free relay, where Lindholm (44.64), Alfonso Mestre (44.34), Ed Fullum-Hout (46.12), and Freeman (44.31) won and combined for a time of 2:59.41. The team of Alberto Mestre (44.92), Liendo (44.38), Smith (44.67), and Chaney (44.95) was faster at 2:58.92 but swam exhibition in this race.
Freshman Gustav Henriksen was the top scorer for NOVA Southeastern, taking fifth in the 100 back (51.13) and fourth in the 200 back (1:53.02).
On the women’s side, the Gators were almost equally as dominated as the men, winning every single event except for one. Opening things up were Katie Mack (25.68), Nina Kucheran (28.42), Olivia Peoples (24.22), and Talia Bates (22.40), who won the 200 medley relay in a 1:40.12. Freshman Hayden Miller followed with a victory in the 1000 free, where she clocked a 9:53.52 to win by 13 seconds in her NCAA debut. Miller comes into this season as the fastest miler in the high school class of 2022.
The streak of Gator victories continued as the meet went on, as Tylor Mathieu won the 200 free (1:49.36), Bates won the 100 back (54.23), and Kucheran won the 100 breast (1:02.09) in her first individual race for Florida. However, Luciana Thomas snapped this win streak by placing first in the 200 fly with a time of 1:59.01, earning Arkansas’ lone victory from the entire meet.
In the 50 free, there were three 22-point times, as Florida’s Ekaterina Nikonova (22.45) and Katie Mack (22.56) went 1-2 to hit NCAA ‘B’ cuts while Arkansas’ Bella Cothern was third in 22.93. Nikonova made it a sprint sweep when she won the 100 free in 48.95, less than a second off her best time of 48.05 set at NCAAs last year.
Mabel Zavaros was dominant in the 200 back, winning by nearly four seconds with a 1:56.92. The opposite occurred in the 200 breast, where Kucheran won in 2:15.76, but Arkansas’ Vanessa Herrmann was just 0.08 seconds behind with a time of 2:15.85. There was another closer race in the 500 free, where Miller ultimately got the best of Elise Bauer, touching first in 4:51.10 while Bauer clocked a 4:51.93.
Bates earned her second individual victory in the 100 fly (53.84), and Zavaros took her second individual victory right afterwards in the 200 IM (2:01.21). Finally, Bates (49.51), Micayla Cronk (50.90), Nikonova (49.35), and Kathleen Golding (50.80) won the 400 free relay in a time of 3:20.56.