Heading into their final regular-season meet Saturday in Knoxville, Florida’s swimming and diving teams are looking to extend their winning streak over Tennessee for the eighth-straight year.
The Gators will race in a 25-yard course for the first time since the Ohio State Invitational on Nov. 22.
"We haven’t seen (it) in a while," coach Gregg Troy said. "So that’s going to help us a little bit to evaluate going into the conference meet."
The Vols, whose men’s and women’s teams are both currently ranked No. 12, will have extra motivation heading into Saturday’s Senior Day meet.
Tennessee’s seniors will focus on earning a victory at home one more time after the men and women fell to Southeastern Conference rival Georgia in Athens last Saturday.
When the Gators and Volunteers faced each other last January, both the UF men’s and women’s teams dominated Tennessee, defeating the Volunteers 198.5-99 and 187-105, respectively.
While the Gators are looking to extend their winning streak over their SEC rival, Troy is focused on making his teams better before the SEC Championships begin on Feb. 16.
"Sometimes in the dual-meet season, it’s not a matter of whether you win or lose," Troy said. "You can win a competition and lose a score.
"This week, whether (we) win or lose, we’ve got some spots where we’re going to use some people in some different events to try to decide what we’re going to do relative to the conference meet."
The No. 3-ranked UF men’s team had two streaks snapped last weekend at home against Auburn. Prior to Saturday’s 154.5-145.5 loss to the then-No. 7 ranked Tigers, the UF men’s team was riding a three-meet winning streak and had won their previous four meets against the Tigers dating back to 2011.
As the men’s team prepares to go after its fourth-straight SEC title, Saturday will present an opportunity for several swimmers to improve their times to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.
Sophomore Caeleb Dressel, who has already made the cut in four different events, will look to improve in the 200-yard freestyle this Saturday to make his fifth guaranteed event.
He and several other teammates will try to either guarantee themselves a spot in Atlanta for the NCAA Championships in March or at least post times fast enough to place themselves above the NCAA cut line.
Meanwhile, the No. 15 UF women’s team will be sailing into Knoxville Saturday on a four-meet winning streak.
Florida’s top swimmer, senior Natalie Hinds, who was named SEC Swimmer of the Week on Tuesday, captured four total victories this past Saturday in the team’s 192-108 victory over the then-No. 10 ranked Tigers.
The Midland, Texas, native’s victory in the 50-meter freestyle was enough to earn her a second entry into the U.S. Olympic Trials later this year.
Senior Jessica Thielmann and redshirt junior Georgia Hohmann will look to improve their times to guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA championship meet beginning March 16.
Currently, Hinds is the only swimmer on the women’s side with a guaranteed spot after she recorded a time of 47.75 in the 100-yard freestyle.
As the Gators’ regular season comes to an end this Saturday, Troy feels positive about the overall focus of both of his teams as they get closer to the start of championship season.
"I think our sense of purpose is going to be a little better the rest of the way," Troy said.
"We know what we’ve faced and just the mere fact that we’re going back to a short-course facility, it’s a little bit more enthusiastic and a little bit more tempo."