The Florida men’s swimming and diving will be bringing a baker’s dozen of swimmers with them to Atlanta on March 23.
On Wednesday afternoon, the No. 4-ranked Gators announced that they will have 13 swimmers competing in the NCAA championship meet in two weeks. The Gators, who won their fourth-straight Southeastern Conference Championship on Feb. 20, will be competing in 22 individual events and 5 relay races during the four-day NCAA meet.
Sophomores Caeleb Dressel and Mark Szaranek, along with junior Mitch D’Arrigo, lead the Gators in total individual events with three a piece. Dressel, who was named SEC Swimmer of the Meet at the SEC Championships, will look to defend his NCAA title in the 50-yard freestyle as the Gators look to improve from their fifth-place finish in last season’s NCAA meet.
Swimmers from both the men’s and the No. 9-ranked UF women’s teams will have plenty of support on the diving boards in Atlanta.
Freshman Samuel Smith, who clinched his first NCAA berth Tuesday in the 1-meter diving event, captured his second ticket Wednesday afternoon in the final day of the NCAA diving zones.
Competing against fellow Gators, sophomore Robert Goss and senior Zach Hernandez, along with 15 other divers from nine different schools, Smith clinched his second berth following a sixth-place finish in the platform dives with an overall score of 677.05 points. Goss and Hernandez each fell short of qualifying for the NCAA meet, placing 13th and 17th overall in the final round, respectively.
“I’m really excited to be able to travel and continue to help our team at the NCAA Championships,” Smith said in a release. “This was more than just a personal achievement for me because at the end of the day, it’s about the team aspect and I’m just really happy to be able to hopefully contribute.”
Senior Kahlia Warner, who claimed two berths into the NCAA meet on March 16 during the first two days of the diving zones, capped off her three-day performance with a third ticket into the NCAAs.
While Warner was unable to sweep the week with victories, she claimed a sixth-place finish in the platform event on Wednesday. Her overall score of 522.35 was good enough to qualify for the platform event in next week’s NCAA meet.
“This week hasn’t completely sunk in yet and I’m not sure if it ever really will. I’m happy with how things played out,” Warner said in a release. “I’ve worked so hard for the success I’ve found this week and I’m really happy my family was able to watch.”
With less than a week remaining before the Gators return to Atlanta, the Gators have little time to rest and prepare for the upcoming championship grind.
“Kahlia and Sam each had outstanding days today and each will be moving on to the NCAA Tournament,” diving coach Dale Schultz said in a release. “We’re looking forward to their dives throughout the week. It’s been a long week for everyone and right now we need to rest up a bit and then we’ll get back to work.”