The Florida Gators stayed undefeated on this young season, blasting past the Kentucky Wildcats on the road Thursday night. The win was highlighted by triple wins from junior Jess Thielmann as well as big swims on the men’s side from Pawel Werner and Mitch D’Arrigo.
Thielmann won all three of her individual races. She’s been on an absolute tear for Florida so far this year, and was as impressive as she’s been all season against Kentucky. Thielmann kicked off the meet by sweeping the first two individual races back to back. She pulled the tough 1000 free/200 free double, going 9:52.38 and 1:49.15. When she added a 400 IM win (4:21.49) later on, she upped her season total to 8 individual wins over four meets, a torrid winning pace.
On the men’s side, Pawel Werner was especially impressive. He swept the sprint free events and contributed to two winning relays to end up perfect on the day. His 20.75 took home the 50 title, and he topped teammate Mitch D’Arrigo for the 100 free win in 44.35.
D’Arrigo might have had the swim of the night, though. In the men’s 200 free, the Italian sophomore put up a very fast 1:37.55, carrying over his momentum from a great summer to post a tough early season time in the event.
The Florida men left several of their top upperclassmen home, including Matt Elliott, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez and Corey Main. That decision was apparently made to see how the freshmen would respond to increased roles. The early returns suggest the first-year swimmers got a lot out of the experience.
Freshman Erik Kahr took advantage of Elliott’s and Solaeche’s absences to sweep the breaststrokes, going 56.74 and 2:06.93. Fellow freshman Caeleb Dressel was on two winning relays, splitting 49.24 on the butterfly leg of the 400 medley and 20.31 leading off the 200 free relay. Those times are a ways off what he’s been previously this season, suggesting the notoriously tough Florida training has already started to ramp up.
One senior who did travel was Carlos Omana, who won the 1000 free (9:11.59) and 400 IM (3:58.46), though the latter race was exhibitioned.
The Florida women also got double wins from Sinead Russell, in the 100 back (53.23) and 100 free (50.78), with that 100 back time especially impressive. Also winning twice was Lindsey McKnight, in the 100 breast (1:02.86) and 200 breast (2:17.16).
Kentucky’s star butterflyer Tina Bechtel carried the torch for the Wildcats at home. The senior swept the butterfly races, winning a big matchup with Florida’s stud Natalie Hinds in the 100. Bechtel was an outstanding 1:57.70 to win the 200, then topped Hinds 53.03 to 54.75 to run away with the 100 title. Bechtel was less than a half-second away from triple wins, taking second to Russell in the 100 free with a 51.19.
Hinds did get a win of her own, pacing the 50 free at 22.88.
The butterfly races were good ones for the home team, as Kyle Higgins got the men’s team’s only swimming win in the 200-yard distance while going 1:49.96.
Kentucky also swept all four diving events with Christa Cabot on the women’s side (327.45 on 1-meter, 327.83 on 3-meter) and Levi Lindsey for the men (307.43 on 1-meter and 360.75 on 3-meter).
All of that added up to a 164-128 win for the Gator men, plus a 161-137 win for the Lady Gators.