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UF Men’s Swimming and Diving: Record-Shattering 800 Free Relay Shines on First Day of SEC’s

Smith, Quinn, Baqlah and Clark Beach won Florida’s eighth-straight 800 free relay in record fashion.

Photo by Courtney Culbreath

Press release from UF Athletic Association

Florida won its eighth-straight 800 free relay title with a new SEC Championship and Pool record.

No. 9 Florida’s men’s 800 free relay team shattered multiple records on their way to an eighth-straight Southeastern Conference title on the first day of the 2020 SEC Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on Tuesday evening.

The squad of Kieran Smith, Gerry Quinn, Khader Baqlah, and Clark Beach combined for a SEC Championship and James E. Martin Aquatics Center Record time of 6:09.91, beating a mark set last year by the Gators in Athens, Ga. by .59 seconds.

Smith also shattered records of his own with his lead-off spilt of 1:30.11, the fourth-fastest swim posted in history.

The time set by the Ridgefield, Conn. native is a new SEC Championship Record, a Florida Record, and a new personal-best swim.

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He beat out the previous SEC Championship record (1:31.27) and also beat out the Florida record (1:31.70) by a full second. His lifetime-best from earlier this season was cut down by almost four full seconds.

Florida, who sits currently in fifth-place with 138 points, also took home another medal in the opening relay of the championships.

The 200 medley relay team of Dakota Mahaffey, Marco Guarente, Eric Friese, and Will Davis made a podium stop with their third-place nod.

The squad combined for a time of 1:24.51, and was led by Will Davis’ 18.61 50 free split to anchor the relay.

The split by Will Davis beats his previous 50 free best by .67 seconds.

Quotables

Head coach Anthony Nesty-

On his overall thoughts on the team’s performance today…
“It’s one of the best meets in the country and being a part of it is special. Being a part of the University of Florida is special, and today was special. We had two time trials this morning that were fantastic. We had a really good two-medley relay and a fantastic 800 free relay.”

On the winning 800 free relay…
“Obviously, Kieran (Smith) led it off for us and those other guys took care of business. Gerry (Quinn) was good. Khader (Baqlah) was good and Clark (Beach) was fantastic at the end. A new SEC record is always special and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”

On carrying momentum from today’s win to tomorrow…
“I hope so. That’s the plan, but every day is different. This is the first day for us and our guys handled the pressure pretty well and the most important thing is to control your emotions. It’s a long meet. We have a long way to go, but it’s a good start.”

Standings
1. Texas A&M- 178
2. Tennessee- 160
3. Kentucky- 149
4. Auburn- 147
5. Florida- 138
6. Missouri- 131
7. LSU- 119
8. South Carolina- 109
9. Alabama- 106
10. Georgia- 101

What’s Next

Florida will be back in the pool on Wednesday morning with the second session of preliminaries.

The day will start-off at 10:30 a.m. ET with the 500 free, followed by the 200 IM and the 50 free.

The men’s 1-meter dive will wrap-up the morning session.

The finals for the respective events will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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