Chris Harry for GatorZone: D’Arrigo Free To Be Himself

SEC Championship 2015 Final 500 Free D'Arrigo WallaceMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING 

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WEDNESDAY MARCH 25, 2015
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mitch D’Arrigo has his own blog that tracks his swimming exploits. It’s pretty darn slick also -- heck, most of the posts are written in both English and his native Italian -- but don’t ask him about it. The fact he even has a website is something that makes him uncomfortable. “I really don’t like to show myself off,” said D’Arrigo, the UF sophomore freestyle maven whose father lives in Rome and does a lot of the blogging for him. “Sometimes, it’s a little awkward.” One of the entries is a video of D’Arrigo’s form and technique captured from underwater. It is stunning in its beauty. And absolutely nothing awkward about it (see below)

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It’s the combination of that form, technique and everything else in the Mitch D’Arrigo package that makes him one of the Gators’ most valuable swimmers and thus a pivotal lynchpin to the team’s ambitious hopes for the NCAA Championships, which commence Thursday morning at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium in Iowa City, Iowa. Florida enters the meet ranked fourth, but the Gators, after capturing the Southeastern Conference championships last month, sit in a top-tier mix alongside Southern Cal and Texas as the meet favorites, with Michigan, California, Stanford and Georgia among a secondary group that could challenge for the title. D’Arrigo is one of several Gators -- like Dan Wallace and Matt Elliott, for example -- who will figure prominently in how the team fares. The SEC champion in the 500-yard freestyle, D’Arrigo will swim the 200, 500 and 1,650 free events, plus do his freestyle thing in another two relays. It’s going to be a busy few days, so D’Arrigo will have to race and pace himself. Coach Gregg Troy has confidence in D’Arrigo, especially when it comes to the former. “He’s a meet-day guy. His practices are good, not overwhelming,” Troy said. “But when the gun goes off, he’s a great competitor. Mitch has that ability to change gears in the middle of a race and the ability to step up.” As a collegiate newcomer in 2014, D’Arrigo was a four-time All-American and the SEC Freshman of the Year. He came to UF with a slew of experience in international competition -- he was silver-medalist in the 400 free at the European Championships -- but now winding down his second collegiate season he’s proving to be remarkably valuable for his ability to excel in virtually any freestyle event. “We have guys who swim a lot of things, but knowing you can always count on someone like in Mitch in the 200 and 500 [free] ... ,” Troy said. “He can go down to the 100 and do a good job or go up. His versatility gives us a lot of latitude.” His skill and ferocity in the water give the Gators a lot of points. D’Arrigo may be soft-spoken, when he speaks, but the guy makes noise when he’s splashing. “I really don’t talk much. I keep stuff to myself,” he said. “But when it comes to racing, I’m a guy who likes a good challenge. On race day, I don’t want to lose. I mean, I really hate losing. When I race I want to be the best at what I do. That’s just the way I feel.” As evidence, D’Arrigo goes into the NCAA meet with top-five times in each of his three individual events, including the nation’s second-best time this season in the 200 free (1:33.10). “We have a good chance to do well here,” he said. “Each of us know everything we do individually has an impact on the team. You don’t want to let anybody down, but you also don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself that you don’t have fun. This is going to be fun.” Sounds like a blog entry. Chris Harry By Chris Harry GatorZone.com Senior Writer 
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