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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
<p>Gators swimmer Kieran Smith comes up to breathe while swimming breaststroke. Smith pulled in seven medals Friday, including four gold</p>

Gators swimmer Kieran Smith comes up to breathe while swimming breaststroke. Smith pulled in seven medals Friday, including four gold

The Gators shined at the U.S. Open, racking up eight medals by the end of the three-day meet. 

Eighteen current and five former Gators swimmers traveled to Sarasota, Florida, to compete in the 2020 Toyota U.S. Open on Thursday. 

Due to concerns regarding COVID-19 and travel, this year’s U.S. Open looked different than usual. Rather than holding the competition in one location, the meet was broken up into nine different regions around the country. The Gators dominated in the Sarasota region. 

Thursday brought the first day of competition, which only featured the 800-meter freestyle event. The Gators took the top-three spots in the regional competition while four swimmers notched Olympic Trial cut times. Robert Finke took the win, while Kieran Smith and Alfonso Mestre followed closely in second and third. Both Smith, who finished second, and Mestre, who finished third, set personal records in the event. 

On Friday, the Gators picked up six regional wins out of eight events. Smith earned the top time in both the 200- and 400-meter free. Finke picked up another win in the 400-meter individual medley, and Clark Beach got his first event win in the 100-meter backstroke.

Former Gators Ryan Lochte and Enzo Martinez-Scarpe also notched wins. Lochte got the top spot in the 200-meter individual medley, and Martinez-Scarpe got it in the 50-meter freestyle. 

The final day of competition kicked off with another Finke regional win, this time in the 1,500-meter freestyle. He finished 26 seconds ahead of the next swimmer, earning another Olympic Trial cut. Beach earned one more win alongside an Olympic Trial cut in the 200-meter backstroke. 

Eric Friese and Miguel Cancel picked up wins on Saturday. Friese beat out Smith by .02 seconds to take the win in the 100-meter freestyle. Cancel closed out the competition with a win in the 200-meter butterfly. 

With the competition being broken up into nine regional meets, the official results of the U.S. Open were not decided until all regions finished their events. After that, the times from each were compared and compiled to determine who would medal in each event. 

In the end, Finke earned the gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle with a final time of 15:09.14 and the silver in both the 800-meter freestyle (7:53.05) and 400-meter individual medley (4:18.08). Smith picked up two gold medals in the 200-meter freestyle (1:47.29) and 400-meter freestyle (3:48.78) events and bronze in the 800-meter freestyle (8:00.05). Beach earned the silver in the 200-meter backstroke (2:00.21), and Lochte took the bronze in the 200-meter individual medley (2:01.05).

The men will be back in action on Nov. 18 for another three-day competition at the Auburn Invitational.

Contact Sara Kate Dyson at and follow her on Twitter @sarakatedyson.

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Gators swimmer Kieran Smith comes up to breathe while swimming breaststroke. Smith medaled in three events at the 2020 U.S. Open this weekend.

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