Florida was not short of representation at the 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships in Stanford, California, this week. The five-day event had 26 current Gators competing, along with six UF alumni. Current and former UF athletes collected 10 medals in total from Wednesday to Sunday.
Nationals serve as a way for individual swimmers to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June by meeting specific times in each event. Twenty-three Gators qualified for the Olympic trials in a total of 59 trial cuts.
Among the alumni who competed in Nationals was 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte.
This was Lochte’s first time competing after serving a 14-month suspension handed down by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Lochte was banned last year for receiving an intravenous infusion, which is against anti-doping rules.
Lochte came away with one win in the 200-meter individual medley on Sunday with a time of 1:57.76. The 35-year-old swimmer qualified for the 100 fly, 100 back, 200 free and 200 IM in the 2020 Olympic trials.
Sophomore Robert Finke led the Gators with four medals, winning gold in the men’s 400 IM, 800 free and 1,500 free. He also came away with the bronze for the 400 free and a career best 7:47.58 in the 800 free.
Fellow sophomore Kieran Smith won silver in the 200 free. Junior Clark Beach took home the bronze in both the 200 back and 400 free.
A team made of four Gators – junior Nikki Miller, senior Bella Garofalo, senior Savanna Faulconer and senior Kelly Fertel – won the bronze in the women’s 4x200 free relay on Friday.
Sophomore Vanessa Pearl won her first medal, taking home silver in the 200 IM.
“I’m so incredibly proud of this group of women,” women’s coach Jeff Poppell said in a release. “We were probably close to 90 percent career-best times this week and had an absolute blast in the process. We had several athletes take themselves to entire new levels which will bode well for us as a team heading into the fall and our next collegiate season.”
Men’s head coach Anthony Nesty reflected on the experience the young Gators had in Stanford.
“This year’s trip to nationals was very beneficial to our group of men,” Nesty said in a release. “We improved on a lot of times and meet a lot of Olympic time standards. It was a great way to end our summer. Now we will have some time off before preparing for this next upcoming season. Overall, it was a great trip and a great experience for the Gators.”
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