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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
<p dir="ltr">Florida sophomore Taylor Ault notched two second-place finishes in both the 500 free (4:48.38) and the 1,650 free (16:29.57) in her last meet.</p>

Florida sophomore Taylor Ault notched two second-place finishes in both the 500 free (4:48.38) and the 1,650 free (16:29.57) in her last meet.

The Florida Gators swimming and diving teams will be in the O'Connell Center Natatorium this weekend, looking to send 12 seniors out the right way by winning their final home meet of the season.

This time, UF matched up with SEC foe Tennessee, who comes in highly ranked on both the men's and women's team (No. 9 and No. 13, respectively).

Last season's meet between the two programs saw a split decision in which Florida's men's team overpowered the Volunteers 178-122, while the UF women came up short 184-116.

That squad will look to avenge last season's contest and avoid a second consecutive loss after losing to the Auburn Tigers on Saturday.

No. 8 Florida (9-2) is led by freshmen Vanessa Pearl and Leah Braswell, junior Kelly Fertel and sophomore Taylor Ault, who have all had solid seasons to this point.

Pearl holds the fifth-best NCAA times in the 400 individual medley and 200 breast events this season.

Braswell owns the sixth-fastest times in the 500 and 1,650 free.

Fertel, a Tampa native, has excelled personally during the IM events, picking up an individual victory in the 200 IM last time out against Auburn, while Ault, earned two top-4 finishes in the 500 and 1000 free events.

UT's women's team will be a tough out thanks to junior Erika Brown, one of the conference's best swimmers.

Brown was awarded by the SEC this week with her fourth SEC Women's Swimmer of the Week honors after winning three individual events against Georgia last weekend.

Unlike the women, the Gators men's team is still riding the wave of momentum that dates back to October. They come into this weekend's meet ranked 6th behind an 8-1 record.

Look for juniors Khader Baqlah, Maxime Rooney and Grant Sanders, as well as freshman Trey Freeman, to be relied upon heavily to put Florida ahead on the scoreboard on Saturday.

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Baqlah has the fourth-fastest time in the NCAA in the 200 free, while Rooney has the eighth-fastest time in the 100 free.

Freeman has helped pace UF in the distance category with the 15th and 17th-fastest NCAA times for the 500 and 1000 free events, respectively.

Sanders’ versatility is what has allowed him to succeed during the 200 and 400 IM. He has the eighth and 20th-fastest times in the NCAA for those events.

The Gators need to perform well to fend off a fellow top 10 team in Tennessee.

The Volunteers are ranked No. 9, partly due to the SEC Men's Swimmer of the Week, senior Kyle DeCoursey who notched top finishes in the 50 and 200 free events.

The team will be looking for its sixth victory of the season, as well as some momentum going into the SEC Championships later in February.

The diving competition will kick off the weekend on Friday at 4:30 p.m., while the swimming events will get underway on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

Follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak and contact him at elepak@alligator.org.

The Florida Gators swimming and diving teams will take on Tennessee this weekend in their final home meet of the season.

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