The Gators led the scoreboard once again at the SEC Championships.
Florida men’s swimming and diving won its ninth consecutive title Friday and racked in 1,401 points. It’s the program’s 42nd conference title in history.
The Gators were neck-and-neck with Georgia for a portion of the meet and only won by 76.5 points. The Bulldogs led after the 100-yard freestyle at 1,115 points — just 12 points ahead.
The rest of the competition trailed behind the two powerhouses with less than 900 points.
The Gators took home the gold in eight events: 200-yard medley relay, 500-yard freestyle, 400-yard individual medley, 50-yard back, 200-yard freestyle relay, 100-yard breast, 400-yard medley relay and 1650-yard freestyle. The team also collected four silver and three bronze medals.
Junior Kieran Smith sank the competition in virtually every event and pulled four gold medals, two silver and one bronze.
Smith won gold in the 400-yard individual medley at 3:37.47, 400-yard medley relay at 3:02.66, 500-yard freestyle at 4:06.32 — tying his American Record — and the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:15.21. The star swimmer broke the SEC and Florida record in the 200-yard freestyle at 1:29.48.
The sharp swimmer received the Commissioner Award with Texas A&M swimmer Shaine Casas. Smith was also named Swimmer Of The Meet.
Individual gold medals didn’t stop with Smith.
Junior Dillon Hillis snagged a gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke at 51.22, only a mere .19 seconds ahead of the silver time. The powerful swimmer holds the second-best time at UF and also won gold at 51.22 in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Freshman Adam Chaney came in first in the 50-yard freestyle at 18.77.
Chaney, Hillis, Eric Friese and Will Davis broke the nationwide record in the 200-yard medley relay at 1:23.17. Smith, Trey Freeman, Clark Beach and Miguel Cancel swam for a silver medal in the 800-yard relay at 6:12.24.
After lagging behind, Florida revived itself on days two and three and racked up a combined 754.5. Chaney, W. Davis, Smith and Friese led the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:15.21 on day two in addition to Chaney’s 50-yard freestyle gold. They set a new SEC and program record.
To add onto Smith’s first in the 400-yard individual medley and Hillis’ first in the 100 breast, Chaney ranked second in the 100-yard backstroke at 45.29 for Florida’s third all-time best. Chaney, Hillis, Fries and Smith stole the show in the 400-yard medley relay at 3:02.66 and broke Florida’s all-time list.
Junior Bobby Finke’s performance in the 1650-yard freestyle opened up day four. He won gold with a time of 14:12.18, a staggering 12 seconds ahead of Georgia. Finke came up short in beating the SEC and NCAA record of 14:12.08 that he set last year.
C. Beach took home bronze in the 200-yard backstroke at 1:40.83.
Smith, Chaney, Freeman and Friese’s second place win in the 400-yard free relay concluded the night at 2:48.85.
While Florida dominated swimming, it fell behind in diving. Sophomore Anton Svirskyi ranked seventh in the men’s platform with a score of 337.95. Freshman Leonardo Garcia followed in eighth at 334.00. The point deficit didn’t carve a hole in Florida’s final score of 1401, however.
The win makes UF the No. 1 school with 248 SEC Championship titles.
Contact Faith Buckley at email@example.com and follower her Twitter @_faithbuckley
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.