The Gators are trying to get over the hump.
The Florida men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams begin competition at the Southeastern Conference Championship meet, and the men are aiming to finally send Auburn home empty-handed.
Auburn has been a thorn in Florida’s side when the SEC championship is on the line each February.
The last time the Tigers failed to win the SEC men’s championship was 1996.
Auburn walked away winners from the past 11 SEC championship meets. The Tigers have won 18 of the past 19 SEC swimming and diving titles.
The Gators already handled the Tigers once this season. Florida went on the road and handed undefeated Auburn its only loss of the season in a 167-133 victory on Jan. 26. UF swept the top three spots in the 1000 free, the 200 IM and the 500 free and claimed the top two places in the 200 free and the 200 butterfly.
Topping the Tigers and reasserting the Gators’ place atop the SEC will rely largely on relays, said associate head coach Anthony Nesty.
“With preparation toward the SEC’s and NCAA’s, our relays are going to come around,” Nesty said.
“They’re going to get better, so hopefully, we’ve done the things necessary for our guys to continue to improve in individual events, and swimming the relays will just continue to take care of themselves.”
But Nesty said the SEC meet is just a stepping stone en route to a grander stage.
“The big meet for us is obviously NCAA’s,” Nesty said.
While Florida’s men are facing a 20-year-championship slump, the women are attempting to climb a less daunting historic hill.
The UF women last won the SEC championship in 2009. Georgia has held the top spot for the past three years.
Florida’s women finished at 3-4 in its dual-meet season, but only won two of their five SEC meets.