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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
<p>Swimmers on the UF women's swimming and diving team wait for the start of a race during Day 2 of the All-Florida Invitational on Saturday at the O'Connell Center.</p>

Swimmers on the UF women's swimming and diving team wait for the start of a race during Day 2 of the All-Florida Invitational on Saturday at the O'Connell Center.

The Florida Gators came out on top for the eighth consecutive year in the All-Florida Invitational, with both the men’s and women’s team taking first place Sunday at the O’Connell Center.

The women’s team had another strong day after Saturday’s performance, with one slight hiccup. it originally won the lone team event of the day, the women’s 400 free relay, but was disqualified for an early jump. Despite the miscue, the team took home every individual event except for one: a victory in the women’s 100 freestyle, which was won by Florida State’s Alexi Smith with a time of 50.59. UF freshman Taylor Ault won the women’s 1,650 freestyle with a time of 16:50.91, sophomore Georgia Darwent won the women’s 200 backstroke with a time of 2:00.72, and the women’s 200 fly went to junior Hannah Burns with a time of 2:02.48.

Savanna Faulconer, having won three other events over the course of the invitational, grabbed another victory in the women’s 200 breast with a time of 2:18.43.

“We trained hard this week. I was more focused than I was last year at this time and I am more confident,” Faulconer, a sophomore, said after the event. “As freshmen, we scored no points, and we didn’t want to forget it, we wanted to always remember that.”

Faulconer also took part in the team relays, which she says is a different experience than swimming individually.

“It’s a little more pressure because they’re worth more points,” she said. “You don’t want to let your whole team down. When you’re swimming for yourself, you’re just swimming for yourself.”

The men’s swimming team emerged victorious in every event for the third day in a row. The team won the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 2:57.76, and it dominated the field in individual races. The 1,650 freestyle went to senior Ben Lawless with a time of 15:32.43. Sophomore Maxime Rooney won the men’s 200 backstroke with a time of 1:46.34. The men’s 200 breaststroke went to junior Ross Palazzo with a time of 2:01.75, and the men’s 100 free went to senior standout Caeleb Dressel, winning with a time of 44.59. Jan Switkowski, a Polish native and 14-time All-American, won the men’s 200 fly with a time of 1:47.55, continuing his successful performance at the invitational after winning two other events.

“I think we feel very confident in our team. This is just a starting point,” Switkowski said.

With the All-Florida Invitational wrapped up, both teams will be preparing for their next meets against Texas at the O’Connell Center on Oct. 20.

“We’re definitely very strong in the freestyles, butterflies, and IMs,” Switkowski said. “I think the breaststroke hurts and the backstroke hurts, but it’s only a matter of time before we start dropping fast times, so I’m not too worried about that.”

You can follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells, and contact him at rwells@alligator.org.

Swimmers on the UF women's swimming and diving team wait for the start of a race during Day 2 of the All-Florida Invitational on Saturday at the O'Connell Center.

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