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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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The O’Connell Center had a strong essence of chlorine in the air, but as the saying goes, everyone likes their own brand.

Florida backed up that notion in its first home meet of the year.

UF’s No. 9 men’s squad followed its loss to No. 4 Missouri with a 163-118 victory over the No. 14 Bulldogs with victories and sweeps all around.

The No. 1 women’s team remained on a collision course with its best start in almost 20 years after beating Georgia’s No. 12 women’s team 164.5-135.5.

Florida’s men improve to 5-1 on the season, while the women stay undefeated at 6-0.

Here are some notables from the dual:

Depth leads women to win

Florida captured its victory on the back of seven individual wins and a sweep of the relay events.

The women’s 6-0 start is its best since kicking off the 2002-03 season at 9-0.

Leah Braswell flashed her talents first by posting a meet-opening win in the 1,000 free. 

She set a personal-best time of 9:45.74 in the event.

Standout swims from Rosie Zavaros, Emma Ball and Sherridon Dressel backed up Braswell’s stellar start quite nicely.

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Zavaros collected 13 points for the Gators with a win in the 200 back, hitting the wall at 155.57. She also earned a second-place finish in the 100 back at 54.63.

Ball finished ahead of Zavaros in the 100 back with a winning time of 53.86.

Dressel placed first in the 100 fly with a time of 53.95. The senior also earned top-three finishes in the 50 and 100 free.

UF was aided by depth on the diving boards with Ashley McCool sitting out due to injury.

Elizabeth Perez tabbed victories in the 1- and 3-meter events for Florida in McCool’s absence.

Bring out the broomsticks

The men matched the women’s individual win total and did one better with eight.

UF earned sweeps in three of those eight individual events in the 50 free, 100 fly and the 100 breast. The Gators also swept both relays.

Kieran Smith was the most successful Gator for the men on Friday, picking up wins in the 200 free at 134.08 and the 100 fly at 47.90.

Other Gators standouts include Marco Guarente, Will Davis and Khader Baglah.

Guarente tallied two wins for Florida, winning the 100 breast at 54.59 and the 200 breast at 1:58.59.

Davis had an afternoon in the swim sprints, taking the 50 free with a season-best swim of 20.26 and a runner-up swim in the 100 free.

Baglah swam a personal-best 1:46.82 in the 200 fly and splashed his way to a victory in the 500 free. 

The most exciting race of the meet was Robert Finke’s second-place finish to Georgia’s Andrew Abruzzo in the 1,000 free.

Finke and Abruzzo fingertips were aligned with each other stroke-for-stroke throughout the race, as it was evident it would come down to a split-second fight for first. 

The final lap of the neck-and-neck race featured vein-popping screams from Florida and Georgia players rooting for their respective swimmers to win.

Abruzzo scraped the edge of the pool .11 seconds before Finke to take the opening event for Georgia, with Finke earning second place at a season-best time of 8:59.36.

Coach Anthony Nesty was ecstatic over Florida’s successful dual against Georgia.

“I don't remember the last time we went one, two, three in the 50 free, 100 fly and 100 breast, which is an accomplishment because Georgia's flyers are really good,” he said in a release.

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

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