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Thursday, May 26, 2022
Florida's Alfonso Mestre competes in the 500 free during an Oct. 29 meet against Georgia.
Florida's Alfonso Mestre competes in the 500 free during an Oct. 29 meet against Georgia.

For the first time since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were held this past summer, USA Swimming invited the world’s top swimmers to Greensboro, North Carolina for the U.S. Open Championships. 

Katie Ledecky, newly appointed volunteer swim coach at Florida, led 19 other Gators in the weekend’s events. The ten-time Olympic medalist managed to lower three competition records at her first meet since moving to train under Florida coach Anthony Nesty, winning the women’s 200/400/800/1500 meter freestyle events.

“I’m really happy to be around some really great coaches and teammates at Florida,'' Ledecky said in an interview after the race, “I’m loving it.”

Fellow Olympic victor Bobby Finke joined in on the success, earning wins in the 400m individual medley as well as the 800 and 1500m free. All three victories were secured in the final 50m leg, lending themselves to the emerging phenomenon of being “Finke’d.” 

Florida’s Trey Freeman showed out on the second day of events, earning a pair of victories in the 200 and 400m free. The five-time All-American earned 16 points for the Gators in their first encounter with long course events this season. 

“I give a lot of credit to our coaches and our training staff,” Freeman said, “I can’t speak highly enough of them. I’m proud to be a part of this team and the Gator nation.”

Two more Gators picked up single championship victories, as Eric Friese and Mabel Zavaros took care of business in the men’s and women’s 100m fly events. The Gators also earned four victories in the B-Finals. 

The future of Florida aquatics impressed as well. Florida signees Cameron Abaqueta and Eric Brown both competed at the Open. Brown, who will join the team in Fall 2022, earned championship round placements in three different events. 

Florida should exit the Greensboro Aquatic Center with satisfaction after a fruitful weekend of swimming. The increased level of competition and race distance at the Open could provide the Gators a boost with just three meets remaining for UF’s swimmers before the SEC Championship meets begin on February 15th. 

Florida’s next appearance comes against the No. 18 men and No. 25 women of Texas A&M when the Gators return to the Stephen O’Connell Center on Jan 8th at 10 a.m. 

Contact Jackson Castellano at jcastellano@alligator.org. Find him on Twitter @jaxacastellano.

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