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Monday, May 20, 2024

Would you be nervous?

Let's say you fancy yourself a good basketball player, someone who knows his or her way around the court. You practice and train hard, and you play even harder. Then one day, you're thrown into an NBA game just to see how you do.

Would you be nervous?

Well, for the UF swim team, the answer is - of course not.

The Gators knew they had something in them. And it all culminated this weekend in Atlanta.

When asked what the biggest surprise of the season was, the now-national champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle, Laurabeth Guenthner, paused and put some thought into the question.

"I'm not really surprised about really anything this season." Guenthner said.

She seemed surprised at how confident she had apparently been in her team all along.

"We're really happy with how we did this weekend," she said. "We usually don't do this well at nationals."

UF did put on a good show at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, achieving 70 season-best times, 12 career bests, more than 25 NCAA-B standards and one NCAA-A standard, which will guarantee Gemma Spofforth a spot in the 100-yard back event at the NCAA finals in March.

When asked about the meet, UF coach Gregg Troy had a confident and proud tone in his voice.

"We like to have a presence at a meet of that caliber." Troy said. "And we were extremely successful."

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The men, who at times have received less attention than the impressive freshman group on the women's side, had a solid weekend performance, securing NCAA standard times and earning top-10 finishes in some events, including a third-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay (3:12.39).

But ultimately, the women's team had more success, recording several national titles, including both the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:29.61) and the 400-yard medley relay (3:34.66).

The weekend was made even sweeter for the Gators by the half of the team that did not go to Atlanta to compete but instead went to the Princeton Invitational in Princeton, N.J. Even without all their leading swimmers, the Gators came out on top.

But the season is far from over. The success this weekend most likely means higher expectations. The Gators will have to train even harder. But Guenthner and the rest of the Gators know that.

"(We're) going to get on it really hard." Guenthner said.

With almost a month until its next meet, the swim team will have plenty of time for that.

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