Katie Ledecky Makes Gator Debut as Florida Men, Women Sweep Georgia

University of Georgia vs. University of Florida

  • October 29, 2021
  • O’Connell Center Pool, Gainesville, Florida
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards)
  • Full Meet Results (PDF)
  • Team Scores:
    • Florida W def. Georgia W 153-147
    • Florida M def. Georgia M 180-120

The Florida Gators were swimming without two of their biggest stars on Friday, racing against traditional rivals Georgia, but the men’s 500 free still had a very, very big name.

Kieran Smith and Bobby Finke, who both finished in the top 6 in the 500 yard free at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, both missed Friday’s meet. But entered in that 500 free was the University of Florida’s new volunteer assistant coach, and the fastest woman ever in the 500 free, Katie Ledecky.

Ledecky, swimming as an exhibition athlete, raced in the men’s 500 free, where she swam 4:30.55. That’s her first official 500 yard free swim since the 2018 NCAA Championships, which was the last of her collegiate career at Stanford.

That time is the 24th-fastest performance in the history of the event, which incidentally makes it the 21st-fastest performance of her personal career.

She also raced to a 1:42.80 in the men’s 200 yard freestyle event, also racing in a separate exhibition heat.

In spite of the absence of two of their biggest stars, the Florida men had no problem knocking off Georgia in a battle of the #1 and #2 teams from last year’s SEC Championship, and the #3 and #4 teams from last year’s NCAA Championship. The Florida women won a much-tighter matchup by just 6 points.

Men’s Meet Recap

The Florida men won 10 out of 16 events over Georgia. That included sweeps of both relays: the 200 medley relay in 1:25.71 to open the meet and the 400 free relay in 2:55.67 to end the meet. In both cases, Florida won by substantial margins. They actually went 1-2 in the 400 free relay, including a 2:55.67 winning mark that was 3.3 seconds better than Georgia’s “A” relay.

Kieran Smith led off the team’s 200 medley relay in the season-opener against Florida Atlantic earlier this month, but with him absent, freshman Adam Chaney was left to that slot, and he split 21.73.

Chaney later in the meet won the 100 back in 47.23.

The standout split for the Georgia medley relay came from sophomore butterflier Luca Urlando. His 19.89 is faster than Georgia’s Camden Murphy swam on the team’s “A” relay at NCAAs last season, and would have been the 6th-best split at last year’s NCAA Championship meet.

Urlando went on to win both the 200 fly (1:42.09), 100 fly (45.61), and 200 IM (1:45.12). Those are all season bests for him by a wide margin – he had previously been 1:43.3 in the 200 fly and 46.4 in the 100 fly.

Each of the three times are also the #1-ranked time in the NCAA so far this season.

The Florida men used a full team effort against Georgia. Among the 8 individual victories, only two came from double winners: Leonardo Garcia, who swept the diving events, and Dillon Hillis, who swept the 100 (54.82) and 200 (2:00.31) yard breaststrokes. They went at least 1-2-3 in both of those events, which both highlights their depth and Georgia’s weakness in the event.

Besides Urlando, Georgia got double wins from sophomore Jake Magahey, the defending NCAA Champion in the 500 free. He first won the 1000 free in 8:55.24, fighting back a 2-3-4 Gator finish, and the 500 free in 4:16.95, which again held off a gaggle of Gators.

Those swims are also both #1-ranked times in the NCAA so far this season.

Other Event Winners:

  • Florida junior Trey Freeman won the 200 free in 1:34.41. That’s a season best for him, almost 3 seconds faster than he was in early October against FAU.
  • Florida senior Will Davis won the men’s 50 free in 19.83, leading a 1-2-3-4  sweep for the Florida men. Georgia’s Dillon Downing, who was 4th in that event in the 50 free at NCAAs last season, was 5th here in 20.07.
  • Florida senior Gerry Quinn won the 100 free in 44.02, just ahead of Florida freshman Macguire McDuff in 44.14. That was actually a lifetime best for McDuff, as was his 20.02 for 3rd-place in the 50 free. As a high school senior last year, he was 2nd in the 100 free at the 4A State Championship meet.
  • Georgia’s Ian Grum won the 200 back by more than two-and-a-half seconds in a time of 1:43.49. He’s swum that race at each of Georgia’s meets this season, and has gotten progressively faster: 1:45.08 against North Carolina, to 1:44.44 against South Carolina, to a 1:43.49 against Georgia. He has also won each of those races.

Women’s Meet

The women’s meet was much tighter in the team score, with each team winning 8 events throughout the meet.

The Georgia women went 1-3 in the opening 200 medley relay to take the early lead in the meet. The young Bulldog relay of Eboni McCartyJoie Hartman, Dakota Luther, and Maxine Parker combined for a 1:39.72 to win the opening relay.

After that, however, the Florida Gators took the charge, including a sweep of the diving events by Elizabeth Perez, leading a 30-8 scoring advantage in those events alone.

Also included in that stretch was a pair of individual victories for junior sprinter Talia Bates in the 50 free (22.63), 100 free (48.82), and 100 back (54.01). Those sprint freestyles were both season-bests for her.

But Georgia wasn’t done yet. Starting with the women’s 200 breaststroke, where junior Zoie Hartman won in 2:12.25, the Bulldogs won the last 5 wins of the meet.

She was followed by Abby McCulloh, who won the 500 free in a collegiate-best time of 4:45.38. So far in her NCAA career, she has 4 wins in 6 individual swims, and has never finished lower than second-place.

After that, Dakota Luther used a big back-half to run down Florida freshman Olivia Peoples in the 100 fly for a 53.51-53.75 win, Hartman won again in the 200 IM in 1:59.27, and Georgia went 3:18.20 to close the meet with another relay win.

The Gators had a lot of 2-3 finishes in that stretch, and while that still means they were outscored, they had enough cushion going into that stretch to hold on for the victory.

Other Event Winners:

  • Elise Bauer kicked off the wins on the day for Florida, topping the 1000 free in 9:43.77.
  • Georgia freshman Dune Coetzee from South Africa won the 200 yard free in 1:47.52. That put her two-tenths ahead of Florida freshman Micayla Cronk, who finished in 1:47.75.
  • In addition to wins in the 200 breast and 200 IM, Zoie Hartman also won the 100 breaststroke in Georgia in 1:00.76. She was sub-1 minute in that 100 breast last weekend against North Carolina.
  • Dakota Luther picked up her first win in the 200 fly, winning in 1:57.00, to go with her later victory in the 100 fly.
  • Florida sophomore Mabel Zavaros won the 200 back in 1:56.64. While she was a 2018 high school graduate, this is the first collegiate season for the Canadian since the 2018-2019 season after sitting out the last two.

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PVSFree
1 month ago

Katie’s splits in the 200 are dirty.

24.90/26.01/26.07/25.82

So she was 50.91/51.89. Nearly negative split a 200 free. I’m so excited

Sam B
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

How is it a nearly negative split?

Anonymoose
Reply to  Sam B
1 month ago

Just imagine it okay

PVSFree
Reply to  Sam B
1 month ago

I mean about a second difference across two 100’s is pretty close to even splitting/negative splitting, I think that ultimately comes down to the start. Still super impressive

Swimm
1 month ago

The Florida men blew out UGA without Smith or Finke… The depth on UF is crazy this year

Guy
Reply to  Swimm
1 month ago

The lack of depth for Georgia is also mind boggling

Scotty P
Reply to  Guy
1 month ago

Matt Sates referencing the “Put the Team on My Back” Youtube video.
If you know you know.

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Swimm
1 month ago

I’m suprised the women beat Georgia in the first place

gators
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Gators are just better

Aquajosh
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

And they did it without Vanessa Pearl, or their school 100 breast record holder Porter, or the Russian Nikonova who got 2nd in the 200 free at the World Cup today and will be coming in a few months.

Ghost
Reply to  Aquajosh
1 month ago

Is Pearl going to swim? She was pretty bad last year

Mike
1 month ago

Wow! 1:34.4 is quite an impressive 200 free from Freeman if he was unsuited. Anyone know if he was? That time is up there with some suited times from early season invites.

swimswamswum
Reply to  Mike
1 month ago

All the pictures I’ve seen from the meet were unsuited, including Ledecky.

Aquajosh
Reply to  Mike
1 month ago

No one at the meet was suited.

NM Coach
Reply to  Aquajosh
1 month ago

I’m confused by the down votes here!

Virtus
Reply to  Mike
1 month ago

Was there and everyone at the meet was unsuited including freeman

NM Coach
Reply to  Virtus
1 month ago

I’m REALLY confused by the down votes here! Apparently you attended a different meet!!!!

Ghost
1 month ago

Last year, Georgia men won and UF had Finke and Kieran! Huge difference this year!

Wow
1 month ago

Was Ledecky suited?

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

Nah she was unsuited in the video on her ig

Kwrb77
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Lol it’s so funny that this time in the 500 would have won the last 2 NCAAs and she just went it at a rando meet unsuited

Hswimmer
Reply to  Kwrb77
1 month ago

Crazy. Really thought Madden would break 4:30!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Buck naked.

Kwrb77
1 month ago

This does seem like the best racing practice for Katie

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Where’s the person who always tells me that ledecky is “pedestrian” at now?

caeleb’s leg sleeve tat
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

OOP 👀 👁 👁

Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

She is indeed pedestrian, when she is racing the queen Titmus.

Katie Grimes and Erica Sullivan are the future. Cheers !!

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

Meanwhile Titmus is currently doing horse photoshoots

Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Yes, and Dressel is getting a leg sleeve tat, while Chalmers is breaking WRs overseas. Where is your problem ?

He Said What?
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

Actually, the question which begs an answer is what is YOUR problem. Popping in like a troll, baiting the readers and then leaving. Either grow up or find another place for your childish antics.

She said what?
Reply to  He Said What?
1 month ago

Don’t worry my friend, Titmus will beat your Ledecky in the 200 and 400 next May. Sports can be cruel sometimes.

Perth
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Titmus, Boxall and a horse walk into a bar after Titmus’ photo shoot. Bartender says to the horse, “Why the long face?” Horse replies, “The two next to me messed up our 4×200 Free relay in Tokyo.”

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

Titmus has already emphasized that she’s not fully motivated for 2022. She says she doesn’t expect to be at Tokyo level next year. I read a couple of interviews after she resumed training. Titmus mentioned the Commonwealth Games more than world championships. She directed greater attention to 2023 world championships than 2022, and then ultimate goal of peaking in Paris. She’s also learned that she needs more time off. All of this is fully understandable. Titmus carried the burden of expectation and the Ledecky target for 2 years. She got the two gold medals in the prized events. Others here will obsess over world records. Titmus understands she gave it her best shot and twice narrowly missed at 200 and… Read more »

Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

Nah, She said on the Brett Hawke Podcast that she is taking 2 months off after Tokyo. She and Dean Boxall began training 4 weeks ago and this will go for 6 months straight of hard training until the end of March. Go through Trials in April and win the double (200/400) in May.

Elite swimmers don’t go to Worlds to chill, they are winners. Moreover, there are a lot of pressure from sponsors and national federation to perform once a year. Which is either Worlds or OGs. Commies are a joke.

Troyy
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

I definitely heard (I don’t remember where) the part about her not targetting the championships next year as hard as the Olympics to preserve her longevity but the Comm Games part is news to me.

Canuswim
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

Completely agree. Hinting at not all in for Worlds is similar to when swimmers say they have not rested – provides a safety net. No doubt Titmus will be ready to roll for May.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

Comm swimmers are pretty strong . Together they won about 38 medals in Tokyo including 14 gold. They swept w 100 200 free & 200 back . They were faster than Europe in 16 events & US in 14.

caeleb’s leg sleeve tat
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 month ago

yeah i hope you have that same energy when grimes outshines titmus 🗿🗿

Taa
1 month ago

Ledecky swimming like she is hungry. Thats good to see. Luca sending a message to Julian and Albiero

Hswimmer
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

Facts his front half was good af

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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