UF Women’s Swimming and Diving: Third-Place Medley Relay Pushes No. 8 Gators to Early Lead After Day One at SEC’s

Bella Garofalo led the Florida’s third-place 200 medley relay with a 22.10 free split.
Photo by Courtney Culbreath

Press release from UF Athletic Association

Florida posted the third-fastest 200 medley relay swim in program history en route to a third-place finish.

A third-place 200 medley relay finish helped No. 8 Florida secure a tight lead after the first day of competition at the 2020 SEC Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.

Florida, with 166 points through day one, will head into Wednesday with a slight, three-point lead over Texas A&M.

In the opening swimming event of the championships, the medley relay of Emma Ball, Vanessa Pearl, Sherridon Dressel, and Bella Garofalo earned a bronze medal for their combined A-cut swim of 1:36.10, the third-fastest mark in program history.

Garofalo anchored the relay with a free split of 22.10.

After qualifying for the 1-meter evening finals with a seventh-best preliminary tally, Ashley McCool improved on her score and earned a fourth-place finish in her first event of a SEC Championship with a new best score as a member of the Orange and Blue.

McCool hit an overall mark of 317.60, 10.77 higher than her previous top mark set against Miami on Sept. 27.  She would miss a third-place finish by 2.10 points.

The 800 free relay of Kelly Fertel, Tori Bindi, Kathleen Golding, and Taylor Ault earned a sixth-place finish in the third and final event of the night.

The team’s swim of 7:05.58 was good for a B-cut, with Bindi leading the way with her split of 1:44.99.


Head coach Jeff Poppell-

On swimming at the SEC Championships…
“Great atmosphere. The SEC Meet is just an incredible atmosphere without a doubt. I think when you look at this meet, compared to other meets we go to throughout the course of the year, it’s hard to not be excited about this atmosphere we have here with our parents and obviously, some of the best teams in the country.”

On starting the meet off with their third-place relay finish…
“It was a great first relay. We were actually winning going into the last leg, so we were in the hunt there and it was a great relay all-around, but the four legs did have some little things that we can improve upon going in to NCAA’s. Overall, a top-three finish was a great way to start the night.

On the sixth-place 800 free relay finish…
“The 800 freestyle relay–we had some legs that were pretty good, we had some legs that were a little off, but overall, I’m happy with a sixth-place finish. That is where we were at last year as well on the first night.”

On getting the nerves out after the first day of competing…
“The first night is about getting the meet started and getting some of the nerves out, and now we can just race a little bit more comfortably for the rest of the meet. We got a lot of swimming to go. We had eight athletes compete tonight on two relays, but we still have another 14 that haven’t touched the water yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing them get after it starting tomorrow morning.”


1. Florida- 166
2. Texas A&M- 163
3. Tennessee- 159
4. Kentucky- 150
5. Auburn- 144
6. LSU- 117
7. Georgia- 111
8. South Carolina- 104
    Alabama- 104
10. Missouri- 95
11. Arkansas- 89
12. Vanderbilt- 60

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 women’s 500 free, followed by the 200 IM and the 50 free.

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