A season filled with accolades and triumphs is nearing a close, but all of it ceases to matter come Wednesday.
After a two-and-a-half week long idle period, the Gators women’s swimming team returns to the pool at this week’s NCAA Championships, bringing with them a consistent blend of veteran leadership and youthfulness that could bode them well.
The last time the No. 8 ranked Gators competed as a team, they came up just short in their bid for their first SEC Championship in ten years, finishing second behind Texas A&M.
A sizable contingent of 10 Gators were invited to compete this week at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, the home pool of the University of Texas.
In seeking their third national championship and first since 2010, UF (10-2, 4-1 SEC) will rely heavily on its experience. Senior Hannah Burns, making her fourth appearance in as many years, and juniors Emma Ball, Sherridon Dressel, Savanna Faulconer, and Kelly Fertel, each making their third appearances, have the ability to do just that.
However, the rookies are equally as critical in anchoring the team to success.
Freshman standout Vanessa Pearl is set to make her first NCAA appearance, coming into this week hot off a season that saw her earn SEC Freshman of the Week six times. Fellow freshman Mabel Zavaros has an SEC Swimmer of the Week nod under her belt. Freshman Leah Braswell and redshirt senior Georgia Marris have also had successful seasons to look back on.
The women’s diving team has a lone representative in Brooke Madden, yet what they lack in quantity they make up for in skill. Madden safely qualified for this week’s competition in the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, finishing in 2nd and 4th respectively at last week’s NCAA Diving Zones.
The junior is making her third consecutive appearance at the NCAAs.
Competition begins on March 20 and continues through the 23rd. With a seemingly model mix of youth and experience, the Gators may have found themselves a formula for success in their attempt to leave Austin, Texas, with a third national championship in hand.
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Gators women’s swimming team returns to the pool at this week’s NCAA Championships.