The headline has read the same for the past five seasons, but that doesn’t mean “SEC Champions” sounds any less sweet.
On Saturday night at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center, the Florida men’s swimming & diving team captured its fifth-straight SEC Championship, scoring 1,271.5 points over the five-day meet. The Gators have won 38 men’s conference titles in program history, which is rivaled only by Kentucky men’s basketball’s 47 titles in the history of the Southeastern Conference.
Caeleb Dressel also won the SEC Male Swimmer of the Meet award for totaling the highest number of individual points. He collected 96 points, 32 for each of his three individual event wins, and was also a part of four relay victories.
“It’s always special, especially this group,” said head coach Gregg Troy. “We dealt with a lot of adversity this year. I was really happy with the way the team – both the men and the women – dealt with it. (We have a) tremendously young women’s team. They were very supportive of the men, and the men were very supportive of them.
“It never gets old. In this conference, having the opportunity to race against these people is fantastic, and the way our folks handled the season was tremendous.”
The women’s team, consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores, placed seventh overall with 624 points. They capped off the night with a silver medal in the 1650 free, which marked their best event finish of the week.
“We’re happy with the way those young girls stood up and raced,” said Troy. “The experience they got is going to be invaluable. Tonight we swam a 400 freestyle relay that was all freshmen. It’s a tremendous group to work with. I think the future’s bright.”
“It’s a great starting point for us, being that this is my first season and it’s a very young team,” said diving coach Bryan Gillooly. “Sam (Smith) stepped it up in the final in two events and was close to the final in all three events, which is huge. Everybody else is right there. I think it was a real eye-opener to what we can do in the future.”
Dressel became a back-to-back SEC champion in the 100 free, touching in 41.24, which marked the fastest time in the nation this year.
The 400 free relay lineup broke an 11-year streak of Auburn taking first in the event. Florida timed an A-cut 2:47.09, a new school record, in the race.
That relay win, Florida’s fifth of the week, was a special one – the Gator men have never swept all five relays at the SEC Championships.
2017 SEC Championships titles
Men’s 200 medley relay (Jack Blyzinskyj, Chandler Bray, Jan Switkowski, Caeleb Dressel) – 1:23.44
Men’s 800 freestyle relay (Khader Baqlah, Maxime Rooney, Mitch D’Arrigo, Mark Szaranek) – 6:12.18
Men’s 50 free (Caeleb Dressel) – 18.46
Men’s 200 free relay (Enzo Martinez-Scarpe, Caeleb Dressel, Jan Switkowski, Jack Blyzinskyj) – 1:15.67
Men’s 100 fly (Caeleb Dressel) – 44.21
Men’s 200 free (Maxime Rooney) – 1:32.18
Men’s 400 medley relay (Bayley Main, Chandler Bray, Jan Switkowski, Caeleb Dressel) – 3:04.52
Men’s 100 free (Caeleb Dressel) – 41.24
Men’s 400 free relay (Maxime Rooney, Mark Szaranek, Caeleb Dressel, Jan Switkowski) – 2:47.09
Note: Events are listed in the order they were won, and swimmers are listed in their respective relay order.
2017 SEC gold medalists
Khader Baqlah (1): 800 free relay
Jack Blyzinskyj (2): 200 medley relay, 200 free relay
Chandler Bray (2): 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay
Mitch D’Arrigo (1): 800 freestyle relay
Caeleb Dressel (7): 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay, 400 free relay
Bayley Main (1): 400 medley relay
Enzo Martinez-Scarpe (1): 200 free relay
Maxime Rooney (3): 200 free, 800 free relay, 400 free relay
Jan Switkowski (4): 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay, 400 free relay
Mark Szaranek (2): 800 free relay, 400 free relay
Jan Switkowski (1): 200 IM
SATURDAY NIGHT’S ACTION
Senior Autumn Finke became this week’s first and only Gator on the women’s side to stand on the podium. Finke, who specializes in distance free, placed second in the 1650 free A-final with a season-best B-cut of 16:06.64 and collected 28 points for the women’s team. Tonight marked her first SEC individual medal.
Swimming in the earlier heats, Kahra Williams placed eighth overall at 16:21.42, which marked a B-cut and season-best by over 38 seconds. Georgia Darwent followed in 25th place at 16:45.09, and Kay Sargent placed 26th in 16:47.54.
On the men’s side, Mitch D’Arrigo captured a silver medal in the event, touching in a B-cut and season-best 14:45.96. Andrew Brady was just short of a podium spot by nearly a second, finishing fourth in a B-cut and season-best 14:50.05. Ben Lawlessplaced fifth in a B-cut and season-best 14:51.03. Blake Manganiello was next in 11thplace, also timing a B-cut and season-best 14:57.85, and Drew Clark placed 18th in a B-cut 15:13.39. Taylor Delk rounded out the Gator qualifiers in a B-cut 15:17.19.
Not long after her appearance in the 1650 free, Georgia Darwent got back in the pool for the 200 back B-final. She finished eighth in the race at 1:59.78. Sydney Sell won the C-final in a season-best and B-cut 1:54.40.
On the men’s side, Brennan Balogh also recorded a win in the B-final with an improved B-cut of 1:42.43. Maxime Rooney also competed in the B-final, finishing seventh with a B-cut 1:43.54. Bayley Main additionally placed fourth in the C-final with a 1:44.64 B-cut.
The women’s finals in the 100 free featured a pair of freshman Gators. Sherridon Dressel appeared in the B-final, finishing in the runner-up spot with a season-best and B-cut 48.98. Kelsey Dambacher preceded her in the C-final, touching eighth in 50.33.
Hannah Burns was the lone Gator competing in the 100 breast on the women’s side. She placed sixth in the C-final, touching in a B-cut 2:14.50.
After breaking a school record in the 3-meter finals earlier in the week, Samuel Smith returned to the diving well in the men’s platform finals. Diving off the towers for the first time in a competition setting during this collegiate season, Smith put up a score of 390.90 to finish in sixth.
400 free relay
The women’s lineup of Sherridon Dressel, Kelsey Dambacher, Tori Bindi and Kelly Fertel swam in the first timed heat of the finals, winning it in 3:18.26 to improve on their seed time. They finished ninth overall out of the two heats.
1. Florida (1,271.5)
2. Georgia (985)
3. Auburn (925.5)
4. Alabama (897)
5. Missouri (771)
6. Tennessee (770.5)
7. Texas A&M (759)
8. South Carolina (696)
9. LSU (641)
10. Kentucky (481.5)Women
1. Texas A&M (1,304)
2. Georgia (1,113)
3. Kentucky (938)
4. Tennessee (855)
5. Auburn (849)
6. Missouri (786)
7. Florida (624)
8. LSU (550)
9. South Carolina (505)
10. Alabama (464)
11. Arkansas (284)
12. Vanderbilt (104)