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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

This weekend, many Gators took advantage of their final opportunities to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

UF swimmers and divers traveled to Orlando to participate in the Florida Swimming Spring Senior Championship. The team will compete in the NCAA Championships in about three weeks.

The UF men started off strong with five swimmers - junior Roland Rudolf, freshman Jonathan Jordan and sophomores Matthew Norton, Logan Storie and Alex Martin - achieving an "A" qualifying mark in the 200-yard freestyle on Friday. On Saturday, the Gators took second through fifth place in the 50-yard free, and Norton led the way with a time of 20.18.

The meet gave the young Gators an opportunity to dominate and qualify. Freshmen Robert Kennedy and Carly Pike placed first and third in the 200-yard breaststroke, respectively. Freshmen Maida Turnadzic and Gabriel Huen also snatched first place and qualifying marks in the 100-yard butterfly. Turnadzic went on to earn another qualifying mark in the 200-yard individual medley on Saturday.

The women also dominated the 400-yard IM with freshman Angelina Ballatore placing second and obtaining an "A" mark. The men followed in their footsteps by continuing strong on Friday. Junior Clark Burckle, sophomore Mike Joyce and freshman Brian Howell placed second, third and fourth, respectively, in the 400 IM. Howell continued to shine through the weekend, placing second in the 200 IM on Saturday.

The Gators women seemed committed to victory on Saturday when freshmen Lily Ramirez and Sarah Batemen snatched first and second in the 100-yard backstroke. Sophomore Rebekah Epley came in third. The men didn't fall behind. Seven out of eight chosen received a final "A" mark in the 500-yard free. Freshman Jeffrey Raymond led the pack with a solid time of 4:27.13.

UF coach Gregg Troy expected that this weekend would be a "true swim meet."

"It's humongous to get the last few people qualified for the (NCAAs)," Troy said on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the Gators men and women had more shining moments. Senior Lindsay Woodward placed second in the 200 fly and Huen led the men in first place with a finals time of 1:46.22 in the same event. Norton, junior Raul Martinez and freshman James Turner also placed second, third and fourth, respectively, in the 100-yard free.

Additionally, junior Kristen Beales and senior Cody Kauffman won the 1,650-yard free.

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