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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The UF men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are a combined 4-0 to start the season.

Although both coach Anthony Nesty and coach Jeff Poppel said these meets would be about fundamentals instead of times, it didn’t look that way once the Gators hit the water.

The women opened up the season with a win over first-time opponent FIU by a score of 194-101 on Thursday. They upped their performance on Friday against Miami in a 203-90 thrashing of the Hurricanes.

The men engaged in a tri-meet on Friday afternoon and emerged out of the pool a perfect 2-0 to start their season.

UF finished off Nova Southeastern by a score of 209-53, and then went for seconds in a 219-43 devouring of Indian River.

Here are some highlights, quotes and more for the two squads as they get ready to close out their weekend sets on Saturday.


UF’s women won 15 of 16 total events against FIU on Thursday in their 194-101 win. Thirty-four Gators competed in total.

The Gators’ first event win of the year came in the 200 medley relay. Sherridon Dressel, Vanessa Pearl, Chade Nersicio and Bella Garofalo combined for a 1:41.63 time in the race. 

The Gators also set four Biscayne Bay Aquatic Center pool records against FIU. Leah Braswell led the way with a 9:58.25 time in the 1,000 free. The three other records were set by Vanessa Pearl in the 400 IM at 4:16.78, Talia Bates in the 50 free at 23.25 and Kelly Fertel in the 200 breast at 2:15.01.

Kalie Novosedliak set a personal best in the 1,000 free with a 10:41.44 time.

Poppel was happy with the results of the team’s first meet of the year, and especially with the freshmen.

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"I was very pleased with our swims for the very first meet of the season,” he said in a release. “Several of our returning athletes were faster than they were at any point of the season last year. Furthermore, I thought out freshmen did a fantastic job, which included event wins by Talia Bates, Kathleen Golding and Allie Piccirillo.”

The success continued against Miami on Friday.

The women’s team, now 2-0 on the year, improved to 8-0 against the Hurricanes all-time.

Sherridon Dressel and Vannessa Pearl set the standard for the Gators once again, taking away a pair of individual event wins.

Dressel even captured her personal best in the 100 fly at 53.21, and won the 100 free at 49.89.

Pearl won both the 100 and 200 breast events with times of 1:02.79 and 2:16.41, respectively.

UF’s consistent and diverse group attacked the water against Miami, taking the top-three spots in the 200 back, 200 free, 500 free and 1,000 free races.

Bella Garofalo impressed once again with the fastest time in the 50 free, clocking in at 23.31.

Poppel praised his team’s performance once again on Friday.

"Overall, another great day of competing by our women,” he said. “The most significant difference can be found in the performance of our relays. Looking forward to our third and final day of racing tomorrow against FAU to finish the weekend."

The Gators will have the chance to improve again on Saturday against FIU at 10 a.m.


The men followed the women’s lead by starting their season 2-0.

All-Americans Clark Beach, Will Davis, Marco Guarente, Khader Baglah and Trey Freeman combined for six victories for Florida. 

Beach took wins in the 200 free and 200 IM, Davis won the 50 free and Guarente captured the best time in the 100 breast. Meanwhile, Baglah secured a victory in the 200 fly and Freeman took the 500 free. 

Some Gators freshmen also showed out on Friday.

UF newcomer Kevin Vargas registered the fastest clips in the 1,000 free and 200 breast races.

Freshman Eric Friese tallied his first-career win in the 100 fly at 48.59.

The Gators also performed well on the diving board. Nick Lydon led all Gators divers in the 1-meter with a stellar score of 320.32. 

Nick Carlin took first place in the 3-meter dive, registering a 307.5 score, followed by Nick Farrow at 290.4.

Nesty praised his team after the competition.

"It felt great for our guys to get back in the pool and pick up two victories to start off our season,” he said. “We had contributions from returners and also from newcomers, which was nice to see. I'm excited to go up against FAU tomorrow and finish off this opening weekend of the season before getting almost two weeks to gear up for the next part of our schedule."

The men’s team will join the women at FAU Aquatic Center to take on the Owls at 10 a.m.

Follow Dylan O'Shea on Twitter @dylanoshea24. Contact him at

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