The 100-yard race began, and the passion dripped off the swimmers. The smell of chlorine wafted through the air of the Stephen O’Connell Center.
The Gators and UNF Ospreys anxiously awaited taking position atop the diving boards and fixated their thoughts on the nerve-racking sport they love so much. Fans radiated an irreplaceable energy through chants and call-outs, cheering on their favorite swimmers from the sideline. The race started, and drive and athleticism carried the course.
The competition suddenly wasn’t between two schools but instead between two teammates. Senior Adrianna Deboer finished and before she could take a breath of relief. Freshman Cecilia Porter finished .07 seconds behind.
The close lines weren’t replicated across the board, but Florida swimmers ranked first in all 14 events against UNF, and UF walked away with a 176-74 victory over the Ospreys to push its all-time record to 2-0.
Prior to the meet, seniors were recognized individually with flowers and an applause to celebrate years of hard work. Three seniors from the men’s swimming and diving joined in even though the team didn’t compete.
The meet opened with a lively 200-yard Medley, with Florida swimmers coming in first and second and UNF taking third and fourth. The first-place group was B team freshmen Porter, Lain Shahboz and Kenady Beil and sophomore Katelyn Mack. While a young group, it’s an all around powerful one.
Deboer dominated the competition, putting up 18 points across three events: 200-yard medley, 100-yard breast and 200-yard breast. In the 100-yard breast, Deboer just barely out swam her runner-up, having a race time of 1:00.66 compared to her opponent at 1:00.73.
The same can be said about sophomore Mack, who ranked first in all four of her events and brought in 18 points. Mack broke her own record today in the 50-yard free, finishing in 22.34 seconds compared to her 22.41 time at Auburn Nov. 18.
A third Gator, sophomore Talia Bates, put up 18 points today. She ranked second in the 200-yard medley as part of Florida’s A team and first in the 200-yard free, 100-yard fly and 400-yard free relay.
Like Mack, Bates shattered her previous records. She finished the 200-yard free with 1:45.05, .24 seconds shorter than her previous lowest time of 1:45.29 accomplished at Auburn. In the 100 fly, she finished in 52.77 compared to 53.35 at Georgia Tech last season.
The team rematches the Tigers Saturday at Auburn at 11 a.m.
Contact Faith Buckley at email@example.com and follow her on twitter @_fbuckley
Faith Buckley is a first-year journalism student at UF and The Alligator's swimming and diving beat writer. She is specializing in sports media to one day hopefully work as an NHL commentator.