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UF Women’s Swimming & Diving: Florida Wins Auburn Fall Invitational After Big Performances on Friday Night

Rosie Zavaros claimed a 200 back victory during the final session of the Auburn Fall Invitational.
Photo By: Courtney Culbreath

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY RYAN SOSIC

The Gators finish fall swimming competition with four event wins and seven B-cuts on Friday night

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After three days of tough competition in a championship-style meet, the University of Florida women’s swimming and diving team returned home with a 508-421 victory over Southeastern Conference foe Auburn.

Talia Bates placed herself in the Florida record books for the third time this week to highlight Florida’s final swimming performance in the third championship session that consisted of four event wins and seven B-cuts.

Bates won the 100 free in a new lifetime-best of 48.52, the tenth-fastest time in program history. She dropped .70 seconds off her prelim time to cap off her first competition of the 2020-21 season.

UF’s distance group got the team off to a great start, posting the top five times and six B-cuts in the process. Elise Bauer’s top swim of 16:07.30 led the Gators, with Tylor Mathieu (16:14.87) and Leah Braswell (16:15.63) finishing behind the freshman in second and third. Taylor Ault and Madison Kolessar finished in fourth and fifth in their first B-standard swims of the season, and Nikki Miller finished in eighth to reel in the final B-cut of the event. Leah DeGeorge was the final Gator in the event, finishing in ninth-place.

Rosie Zavaros maintained hold of the 200 back on Friday, heading into the evening session with the top seed after recording the fastest prelim time. The junior touched .15 seconds faster in a time of 1:56.47 to claim her first win in Auburn.

Florida took the top four spots in the 200 fly, the final individual event of the invite. Amanda Ray claimed the top spot in the championship final in a mark of 1:57.44.

The 400 free relay of Katie Mack, Bates, Kathleen Golding, and Gabby Hillis reeled in Florida’s final event victory in the last event of the competition, combining for a swim of 3:17.02. Bates led the way with a split of 48.87, while Hillis anchored with a time of 48.93

Gator Splashes

  *   Kenady Beil joined her freshman classmate Ray in the 200 fly top heat, finishing in second place with Florida’s final B-cut of the night in a time of 1:58.81. Rounding out the top finishers were Allie Piccirillo in third and Nikki Miller in fourth.
  *   The next three Gator finishers in the 100 free behind Bates posted faster times than their prelim swims, led by Mack’s runner-up bid of 49.06. Hillis dropped a full second to claim fourth (49.59), while Ria Malhotra touched in sixth place after improving by .21 seconds. Golding was Florida’s fifth and final representative, touching in seventh.
  *   After sweeping the IM events on the first two days, Pearl came back and posted a runner-up bid in the 200 breast after falling short of the top swim by just .10 seconds. Cecilia Porter (2:13.92) and Mathieu (2:14.36) joined her in the championship, finishing in fifth and sixth.
  *   Annette Schultz (1:58.36) and Celi Guzman (1:58.83) joined Zavaros in the 200 back top final, with the pair finishing in fourth and fifth, respectively. Lain Shahboz posted a seventh-place nod with her swim of 1:59.94, cutting off .37 seconds from her morning swim.
  *   A total of five swimmers hit the water in the 100 free consolation, led by Kirschtine Balbuena’s swim of 50.21, which was the best in the heat and sixth-fastest overall. Behind her in second and third were Bettina Boszormenyi (50.92) and Chade Nersicio (51.06). Chloe Grimme added a fourth-place nod of 51.84, while Ault finished in 51.55 in her second event of the night.
  *   The 200 breast consolation final was led by Carly Schwab’s heat win in a time of 2:15.45. Adrianna DeBoer (2:16.57) and Ellie Hatton (2:16.57) posted second- and third-place finishes, while Ellie Zweifel concluded Gator swimmers with a fifth-place finish of 2:19.46

Quotables

Head coach Jeff Poppell – “It was so much fun to be able to compete in a three-day meet with our entire team and to get a better feel for our new identity, which includes a lot of newcomers. I have to say that we are extremely pleased with the way our women performed this week. Albeit a very young team, we can’t help but be excited about the future and where we’re heading. We experienced several career-best performances this week, new additions to the UF All-Time Top 10 list, and even a new school record achieved by one of our freshman (Cecilia Porter). I’d like to thank Auburn for being gracious hosts and providing a safe and structured environment this week for our teams to compete, given the challenging COVID environment that still exists. Furthermore, as always, I’d like to extend a special thank you to our UF Support Staff for doing such a wonderful, first-class job of supporting our student-athletes and putting them in the best position to be successful. It’s great to be a Florida Gator!”

Head diving coach Bryan Gillooly – “We were short-handed without Emma Whitner and Ashley McCool, two of our best girls, and with Elizabeth Perez battling a back injury and Lauren Snider battling an ankle injury – the cards were stacked against us but I don’t like to make excuses. Auburn is a very good team. Just being able to go out there and compete is something that we are fortunate to do. Elizabeth came out first and second place effort, but couldn’t do platform due to her injury. Lauren did a great job on platform, even without practicing the event before. Being able to contribute to a team win is always the goal, and we’re very proud of them for that.”

What’s Next

The Auburn Fall Invitational concluded the fall portion of swimming competition on Florida’s schedule. The divers will now head to Coral Gables to compete in a three-day diving tournament hosted by the Miami Hurricanes on Dec. 2-4.

The Gators will return after the new year to the Ann Marie Rogers Swimming and Diving Pool on Jan. 9, 2021 as they welcome Texas A&M to Gainesville. The team will then play host to North Florida in their final home dual meet of the season on Jan. 20 before returning back to Auburn to face the Tigers on Jan. 23, this time in a dual meet.