There just wasn’t enough left in the tank for the Gators to make a push down the stretch at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which ended Saturday.
Florida was in third after Day 1 and only trailed by nine points with some of its best events to come.
Despite making the podium five times over the next two days, the Gators couldn’t improve and ended nationals with a bronze medal and a little disappointment.
“It’s always a little bittersweet, you fall short of some of your goals,” coach Gregg Troy said in a release. “But undefeated season, I can’t tell you how many school records we broke, tremendous four years for some seniors that were All-Americans year in and year out and third place at the NCAA meet — well that’s a little shy of what we thought we could do.”
Florida broke seven school records, and senior Marcin Cieslak led the way with two gold medals in the 200-yard individual medley (1:40.58) and a school record in the 100-yard butterfly (44.87 seconds) — the only individual titles for the Gators — in what was the best finish for the program in nearly a quarter of a century.
“Ah, 23 years, it’s the best we could do this year,” Troy said.
“It’s just a tremendous group of guys. I told a couple of them tonight that are seniors that I’d go to war with those guys any time.”
Cieslak came into NCAAs with four second-place finishes in three years. After breaking out with two gold medals through the first two days, he was within 0.86 seconds of sweeping his events after a silver-medal swim in the 200-yard fly finals on Saturday touching in at 1:40.19 seconds and earning him the high-point award for the meet.
Junior Dan Wallace made an impact for Florida as well. He won two silver medals in the 500-yard free (4:11.62) and 400-yard IM (3:38.18) and picked up some of the slack left by redshirt senior Sebastien Rousseau.
Rousseau was seeded sixth in the 200-yard IM but finished more than two seconds behind his seed time in 21st, ended up four spots behind his seeding in ninth for the 400-yard IM and made his only final of the meet in the 200-yard fly, in which he placed eighth despite being the No. 2 seed.
It might not have been just a poor performance from Rousseau.
Troy alluded to some illness affecting the two-time South African Olympian as well as other swimmers in a post-meet interview.
“A little unfortunate,” Troy said. “We had to deal with a little bit of illness here this semester that hurt us a little bit performance-wise.”
Follow Logan McGuire on Twitter @loganjmcguire