UF Women’s Swimming and Diving: Day Two of 2020 SEC Championships Ends with League-Best 13 Florida Finalists

Vanessa Pearl would post the seventh-fastest 200 IM time in the NCAA during Wednesday’s finals session.
Photo by Courtney Culbreath

Press release from UF Athletic Association

Florida will head into the third day of competition on Thursday in second place.

The No. 7 University of Florida women’s swimming and diving team put a conference-best 13 swimmers on day two of the 2020 Southeastern Conference Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala.

Florida will enter day three of the competition in second place with 356.5 points, trailing the leader, Tennessee, by 28.5 points.

To begin the finals session, Florida’s 200 free relay of Sherridon Dressel, Bella Garofalo, Gabby Hillis, and Talia Bates combined for a time of 1:28.13, the fourth-fastest mark in school history.

The time earned the group a sixth-place finish.

Individually, Vanessa Pearl would win the 200 IM B-final with the seventh-fastest time in the NCAA at the time of the swim.

The sophomore would hit the wall in 1:54.80, the fifth-fastest time overall and a new season-best.

Joining her in the B-final was Kelly Fertel, who finished sixth in the heat and 14th overall.

Leah Braswell would also win a B-final, touching first in 500 free on Wednesday evening with a time of 4:38.22.

She would beat the remainder of her heat by two full seconds, with teammate Taylor Ault finishing runner-up in a season-best tally of 4:40.32.

Two more Gators appeared in the B-final, as Savanna Faulconer would also produce a season-best time of 4:42.59 and Tori Bindi would set a personal-record in the event for the second time of the day, touching in 4:42.84.

Overall, she finished 3.5 seconds faster than her previous lifetime-best heading into Wednesday.

Bella Garofalo and Gabby Hillis wrapped up B-finalists for Florida, as the pair finished 7th and 8th, respectively, in the 50 free. Garofalo improved on her morning swim to finish in 22.30, good for a season best, while Hillis touched just .17 seconds later.

Tylor Mathieu, Georgia Darwent and Nikki Miller competed in the 500 free C-final, with Mathieu finishing runner-up in a new personal-best B-cut swim of 4:42.10.

Darwent would also notch a B-cut with her swim of 4:46.86, with Miller right behind her to finish in seventh-place with a mark of 4:47.83.

Kathleen Golding qualified for her first SEC Championship event final, notching a B-cut swim of 1:58.18. The mark tied for third-fastest in her heat.

Talia Bates also made it to her first SEC final, producing a fourth-place nod in the 50 free C-Final.

Her time was good for 20th overall.


Head coach Jeff Poppell- “After a little bit of a rough morning, I thought our women came back tonight in finals and raced exceptionally well. We had 13 swims in finals tonight, more than any other team, and I felt we took full advantage of the opportunities. We’re currently in second place in the team standings and looking forward to a strong day of events for us tomorrow. We just need to keep getting better each day.”


1. Tennessee- 385
2. Florida- 356.5
3. Auburn- 352
4. Kentucky- 321
5.Georgia- 310
6. Texas A&M- 300
7. Alabama- 243.5
8. Missouri- 212
9. Arkansas- 200
10. South Carolina- 168
11. LSU- 160
12. Vanderbilt- 90

What’s Next

Competition on Thursday will start at 10:30 a.m. ET with the 400 IM, followed by the 100 fly, 200 free. The women’s 3-meter diving will wrap up the morning rounds.

Finals for each respective event will begin again at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The final two days of competition will take place on Friday and Saturday, with the 2020 SEC Champions being crowned on Saturday night.