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Monday, March 04, 2024

Eighteen years ago, Janet Evans set the NCAA record in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4.34.39.

On Thursday, that record tumbled as UF senior Caroline Burckle set a new NCAA record with a time of 4:33.60.

"It's probably one of the coolest things," Burckle said. "I don't have words to describe it. It's just a really cool feeling."

The national championship was one of two for Burckle, who earned Swimmer of the Year honors as she led the Gators to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

At the Southeastern Conference Championships in February, she threatened Evans' record with a time of 4:34.87.

"I didn't really think about it [Evans' record] until after SECs," Burckle said. "I didn't even know what it was at SECs or anything, so I didn't think about it until afterwards."

After her performance at the SEC Championships, she said she wanted to get as close to, or break the record.

In addition to the 500 free, Burckle also won an individual championship in the 200 free, touching the wall with a time of 1:43.10.

Equally impressive was sophomore Gemma Spofforth.

Last month, she set SEC records in the 100 and 200 backstroke events.

On the national stage, her dominance didn't wane as she captured two more individual national championships in those events, including defending her 100-yard title from last season.

Spofforth became the second swimmer in UF history to win the 100 and 200 back in the same year.

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UF led all teams at the meet with its four individual championships.

Arizona took home the team championship, followed by Auburn, Stanford, Texas A&M and California to round out the top five.

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