Florida’s conference dynasty lives on.
For the fourth consecutive season, the No. 5 UF men’s swimming and diving team won the Southeastern Conference Championship.
In the process, sophomore Caeleb Dressel was named the SEC Swimmer of the Year after earning six conference titles at the meet.
Saturday marked Florida’s 37th overall SEC championship, the second most of any sports program in SEC history.
"I'm really proud of the way our men and women competed this week,” UF coach Gregg Troy said in a release. “They've shown tremendous efforts all-season long and they deserve every bit of success we achieved this week.”
Meanwhile, the No. 9-ranked UF women’s team, who were considered one of the championship favorites at the beginning of the week, were unable to establish any kind of consistency in Columbia, Missouri. Instead of winning their first SEC crown since 2009, the Gators finished sixth overall, 412.5 points behind SEC champion Texas A&M.
Heading into the final day of SEC competition, the UF men’s team had a 30-point lead over the No. 6 Auburn Tigers. With five events remaining in the meet, the Gators needed to at least match Auburn’s performance on Saturday to capture the SEC title.
The evening began well for the Gators. In the 1,650-yard freestyle, senior Arthur Frayler captured Florida’s first podium finish of the evening, finishing second with a time of 14:49.22.
Two events later, Dressel captured his sixth SEC championship in the 100-yard freestyle, besting Auburn’s Peter Holoda, who finished third, by 1.35 seconds.
Despite Auburn winning the final two events of the meet — the 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yard freestyle relay — the Gators held onto their overall lead and won the championship with a score of 1,275.
Even though the UF women’s team was not in championship contention on the final day, they were able to take some positives away from Saturday.
Senior Natalie Hinds, who competed in her final SEC championship meet, captured her first victory this week in the 100-yard freestyle. It was the first and only swimming victory of the meet for the Gators, their third overall.
Senior Jessica Thielman also gave the Gators their first of three podium finishes on Saturday, placing second in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:06.21.
With the SEC championships in the books, the Gators will now prepare for their final task of the season: the NCAA championships.
“It feels good to have another SEC Championship title, but now it’s time to gear our minds toward the NCAA meet, which we’re looking forward to.” Troy said.