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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

After a long and grueling regular season, the Florida women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams will begin competition today in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship Meet.

The four-day meet, which is being hosted by Georgia in Athens, Ga., will conclude on Saturday.

The women’s squad will try to defend its 2009 SEC title and win its 18th overall in school history. If successful, it would mark the first time Florida has repeated since 1995-96.

“We’ve got a tremendous challenge in front of us,” UF coach Gregg Troy said. “Georgia is the best team in the country right now. Not only are they the best team in the country, they may be the best team ever. They are extremely deep and they’re strong in every event.”

Senior Gemma Spofforth is one of the women’s swimmers expected to step up to the challenge for the Gators.

Spofforth, the defending SEC and NCAA champion in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke and NCAA record holder in the 200, was the 2009 SEC Female Swimmer of the Year. Although the Gators have other returning SEC champions, they need strong showings from their young competitors.

“One of the biggest points of emphasis will be that we have to get some good performances from our freshman swimmers like Jamie Bohunicky, Corinne Showalter and Eva Lehtonen,” Troy said.

After finishing its regular season undefeated, the UF men’s team will try to win its 34th SEC title in school history and first since 1993.

“It’s great to have an undefeated men’s team and it’s nice to know that we can match up with all the other teams in the league,” Troy said. “On paper, with the race entries and times submitted, we’re the third-best team right now. That means we have to make up some ground and swim well the whole way through the meet.”

Looking to lead the men’s team is defending SEC and NCAA 200-yard freestyle champion Shaune Fraser.

Because Fraser is the only returning SEC champion for the Gators, the team will need others to rise to the challenge.

“We’ll expect Omar Pinzon or Conor Dwyer to step up,” Troy said.

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“They’ve both been good for us all year long, and they should be solid contributors.”

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