British freshman Amelia Maughan made her debut for the Florida Gators, winning the 200 free in an impressive 1:46, and fellow second-semester import Theresa Michalak was equally impressive as the Gators beat SEC rivals Tennessee at home Saturday.
The men’s side saw an exciting battle between Tennessee freshman Sam McHugh and Gator senior Matt Elliott, with the two combining for 3 individual wins and tying for one more.
After the Tennessee women came up with a big SEC upset at this time last year, the Florida Gators came prepared, easily topping the Vols in 2015.
That was even swimming without star backstroker Sinead Russell, who was hospitalized a few weeks ago with blood clots in her brain. Russell is improving now, but will still be out of commission for the rest of the season. Luckily for the Gators, a pair of Russell’s teammates filled in admirably against Tennessee.
Ashlee Linn pulled off a touchout win in the 100 back, going 54.13 to Vol Ashley Gaeckle‘s 54.52. Then Georgia Hohmann and Linn combined for a 1-2 of the 200 back, with Hohmann leading in 1:56.93.
One of the pleasant surprises for Florida was British freshman Amelia Maughan, who made her Gator debut with an outstanding win in the 200 free. Maughan was 1:46.82, the second-best time put up by a Gator so far this year. Now that she’s eligible, Maughan should be an instant addition to the 800 free relay and a big boost to the Gators postseason hopes.
Florida’s other late addition, German IMer Theresa Michalak, was impressive as well. Michalak won the 400 IM in a landslide (4:09.50) and maybe more impressively, raced Tennessee All-American Molly Hannis tight in the 100 breast. Hannis still won the race 1:00.25 to 1:00.83, but the fact that Michalak can push someone of Hannis’s level goes a long way in filling Florida’s breaststroking lineup hole.
Michalak also led off the winning 200 medley relay for Florida, filling Russell’s backstroke shoes with a 25.33 split.
Natalie Hinds won a big sprint matchup for Florida in the 50 free, beating Tennessee’s Faith Johnson 22.55 to 22.93. Johnson would go on to win the 100 free in 49.98, while Hinds would take the 100 fly with a 52.92.
Also winning twice for Florida was distance specialist Jess Thielmann, who swept the 500 (4:44.30) and 1000 frees (9:37.22).
Swimming in the final dual meet of his college career, Florida’s Matt Elliott won two events and tied for a third.
Elliott had to earn two of his wins in tight finishes. His first came in the 100 breast, where his 54.02 just topped teammate Ricky Munch‘s 54.05. That’s a season-best for Munch, and only a half-second off his lifetime-best. If Munch can heat up this postseason, the Florida men will have three formidable breaststrokers with Elliott and Eduardo Solaeche, who took third.
Elliott and Solaeche swept the top two spots in the 200 breast, with Elliott winning by a wide margin in 1:56.05. Finally, Elliott tangled with Tennessee’s star freshman Sam McHugh in the 400 IM.
McHugh went out fast, but Elliott used a big breaststroke split to come back, and the two wound up tying at 3:47.14.
That was McHugh’s second win of the day, as he crushed the 200 fly in 1:45.04.
Outside of McHugh, though, it was nearly all Florida. Caeleb Dressel seems to be getting into post-season form. After going 19.6 in the 50 free last weekend, Dressel was 19.51 to win against Tennessee, his best swim since the Gators mid-season rest meet.
Dressel also won the 100 fly in 47.43. Also doubling for Florida was Pawel Werner, who was a quick 1:35.83 to take the 200 free, and added a 44.25 win in the 100 free.
Florida ultimately swept the freestyles, as Arthur Frayler cracked 9 minutes in the 1000 free for the first individual win of the night. Frayler was 8:58.53, the second-ranked time in the NCAA this year and only the third swim under nine minutes.
Florida was ready to go from the get-go, winning a touchout of the 200 medley relay by a couple tenths. The Gators were 1:26.60, getting a 20.59 fly leg from Dressel.