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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

On Saturday, there was a lot to celebrate at the O’Connell Center’s Natatorium for the Gators swim and dive teams as they hosted the Auburn Tigers. 

Florida recognized its combined 24 seniors from both the men’s and women’s teams before the meet and Florida’s 2010 women’s national champions were honored midway through the afternoon. 

Former Gator Caeleb Dressel even sat poolside to watch his younger sister, Sherridon Dressel, compete on her senior day. Though eventually, his attention turned to signing autographs and taking pictures with young fans. 

However, by the end of the meet, when the whistles and “Pull!” calls had subsided, both Gator squads found themselves on top of the Auburn Tigers. 

Florida’s No. 9-ranked men’s team outscored the Tigers 204-92, while the eighth-ranked women found themselves in a closer battle with the No. 14 Tigers before coming out on top 161-137.

Leading the way for Florida’s men’s team was Kieran Smith, who finished with three wins and two career-best performances. 

Both coming in sprints, Smith’s time of 47.96 seconds in the 100 back beat his former best of 48.07. Later on in the meet, in the 100 free, Smith swam a 43.50 to bring home gold in his second win of the day, beating his former career-best by 0.57 seconds.

Florida’s men’s team also finished the day with four sweeps having taken all the hardware in the 200 back behind Clark Beach (1:43.78), Bobby Finke (1:45.96) and Ethan Beach (1:46.89), the 200 breast behind Marco Guarente (1:59.07), Kevin Vargas (2:02.72) and Chandler Bray (2:02.84), the 500 free with top performances from Khader Baqlah (4:23.97), Drew Clark (2:02.72) and Chandler Bray (2:02.84) and lastly the 400 IM was led by Kieran Smith (3:47.25), Grant Sanders (3:50.53) and Bobby Finke (3:56.05). 

For the women, Sherridon Dressel wasn’t holding back in her final dual meet in the O’Dome. 

In the presence of a capacity crowd in the Natatorium, Dressel had a triple-gold day after wins in the 100 back (52.13), 200 back (1:54.49) and the 100 fly (52.81).

Sophomore Vanessa Pearl also finished with three golds behind her swims in the 400 IM (4:14.30), 200 breast (2:12.29) and 100 breast (1:08.84).

One of the most entertaining swims of the day came in the women’s 500 free where Auburn’s Emily Hetzer was out-touched by Florida’s Taylor Ault by one-one hundredth of a second. 

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On the boards, where action got underway on Friday night, Brooke Madden took home both the 1-meter title and the 3-meter titles. 

Madden beat out Auburn’s Alison Maillard, who has picked up three SEC Diver of the Week honors this season. 

Both the men’s team (7-1, 2-1 SEC) and the women’s team (11-0, 3-0 SEC) will head to Tennessee on Feb. 1 for their next meet.

Follow Ainslie Lee on Twitter at @AinsliesTwoBits. Contact her at

Editor's note: this story has been updated to reflect the correct final score for the men's team, factoring in Friday's events.

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