UF Women’s Swimming & Diving: Gators Bounce Back with Win Over Miami in Home Opener
Courtesy of University Athletic Association
No. 10 Florida walked away victorious in all 14 swimming events in their home opener.
Florida women’s swimming and diving got back on track with a 190-94 victory over in-state rival Miami on Thursday at the Ann Marie Rogers Swimming and Diving Pool inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The No. 10 Gators (1-1) posted the top effort in all 14 swimming events throughout the meet, highlighted by the top three times in five individual events. Additionally, a total of five swimmers notched their first victory in the Orange and Blue.
Nikki Miller and Annette Schultz led UF in the pool with their pair of individual victories in the home opener. Miller went on to touch first in the 200 free with an effort of 1:48.15 and the 500 free with a time of 4:53.01.
Schultz earned her first career wins as a Gator, claiming the 100 back with an effort of 55.58, shaving .11 seconds off her time from last week. She posted her second winning effort on the day in the 100 free by .20 seconds.
The Gators won both relays to start and finish Thursday’s in-state battle. UF claimed the top three spots in the 200 medley relay in the first event of the dual, highlighted by the top effort of 1:43.64 by Rosie Zavaros, Cecilia Porter, Chade Nersicio, and Bettina Boszormenyi.
Florida’s A-relay of Vanessa Pearl, Miller, Taylor Ault, and Kirschtine Balbuena capped off the meet with the top 400 free combined time, touching in 3:27.04.
* Katie Mack, Chloe Grimme, Kenady Beil, and Cecilia Porter all joined Schultz by reeling in their first Gator victories in the first home appearance of their career.
* Mack took home the 100 fly crown with the top time of 56.63, while also finishing behind Miller with a swim of 1:49.36 in the 200 free.
* Grimme (23.40) out-touched Balbuena in the 50 free to claim the first-place finish. Ria Malhotra came in third in the event, as Florida swept the top-three spots. Grimme later posted a second-place effort of 51.86 in the 100 free behind Schultz.
* Beil finished first by almost four full seconds in the 200 fly to post the top time of 1:59.44, improving on her swim from Florida’s dual with Georgia by .99 seconds.
* Lastly, Porter also improved on her 100 breast time from her collegiate debut, meeting the B standard for the event again with her time of 1:01.82. Additionally, she posted the second-fastest time in the 200 IM (2:06.54).
* To begin the individual portion of the dual, Taylor Ault won her first event of her senior year with the top 1,000 free time of 10:04.52. Finishing behind Ault was Elise Bauer, who touched in 10:07.43. Bauer also improved on her time from last week, cutting her swim by four full seconds.
* Ashley McCool and Elizabeth Perez led the women’s diving efforts on Thursday.
* Perez finished in second place with a 3-meter tally of 341.48, while McCool finished right behind her in third-place with a score of 339.60, marking less than four points from the top spot to third place. McCool tallied the best Gator finish with her third-place nod of 286.5 on the 1-meter springboard.
* Tylor Mathieu and Kathleen Golding won the first event of their sophomore season in the Orange and Blue.
* Mathieu took home the top time in the 200 breast by almost three seconds, touching the wall in 2:18.14. She posted a runner-up bid in the 100 breast earlier in the meet.
* Golding also posted her individual win by a large margin, touching five seconds faster than anyone else in the 200 IM. Earlier in the contest, she posted the second-fastest 500 free time behind Miller.
* Florida found success in both back events, registering the top-three swims in each. In the 100 back, Zavaros and Boszormenyi finished in second and third behind Schultz. In the 200, Celi Guzman led the way with a time of 2:00.49, while Zavaros posted another runner-up bid. Vanessa Pearl registered an effort of 2:02.19 to round out the top finishers.
Head coach Jeff Poppell-
On today’s meet – “It was good. I think I said it last week after we competed with Georgia, it was the first time these ladies have competed in about eight months, so we’re in a situation where we need, more than anything, the opportunity to race. Even today’s competition against Miami, you saw the improvements versus a week ago. We did use today as an opportunity to swim around some people in different events, which I think is good for them, but at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to evaluate our team a little bit better. Like I said, I was really pleased. We had a lot of first-time event winners. We’ve had some younger swimmers in our program a year ago, or the year before, that were kind of depth-people, maybe. We’d go to meets, and they wouldn’t be people winning events. Now they’re in a situation as juniors and seniors that we’re looking upon them to win events and to be leaders, and they’re doing that… I feel like from last week’s meet to today’s meet with Miami – we learned a lot. We learned a lot about our team. We learned a lot about our individuals, and I definitely feel a lot better where we are now versus where we were a week ago.”
On the challenges they’ve faced since the end of last season- “Two things. Most summers in any swimming program, you’re still competing. You’re still competing long-course meters, and no one even had that opportunity to do that, so it truly has been eight months (since anyone has raced). One of the girls swimming an event today said, ‘I haven’t swam this event in a whole year.’ It was the mid-season meet a year ago and that kind of tells you something. We had a lot of people that swam races today that wasn’t necessarily smartly swum. They got out too fast or too slow, not very good in the middle. I think that can all be chalked up to race experience. We haven’t had enough of it. Every competition to us is a valuable one because it gives us an opportunity to get that needed race experience that’s missing and that we didn’t even have the chance to do during the course of the summer months. In terms of the biggest challenges of, not just the offseason, but what we’re facing this fall when it relates to new life with COVID, it’s just team camaraderie. We can’t do anything as a team. We have to do everything in smaller groups. I think that sense of camaraderie has been really hard to generate that and create that when we’re always doing things in smaller groups and not necessarily in a full-team setting. It is what it is. Everybody is faced with the same challenge around the country right now. We’re trying to do the best job that we can to create that cohesiveness, but just doing it in a different way.”
Head diving coach Bryan Gillooly-
On what it means to already have two competitions under their belts- “Without having the competitions, it’s harder to figure out and pin-point areas you need to work on. Now we know those. Specifically where we can improve. We’re going to be going up against Miami again in December. They’re going to be better. We’re going to be better so we’re looking forward to getting back tomorrow and start practice already and start working on those weak areas.”
On his group of women’s divers this season- “The group we have this year (on the women’s side) has a lot of returners from last year. We had a strong team already. They’re just one year better. I think the culture on the team is improving all the time and we added a couple on the men’s side that really helped the women’s team as well. Competing with those guys every day in practice and seeing how hard they work is motivating the girls a lot so we’re going to come back that much better (at SEC’s) this year.”
Florida improves to 29-2 all-time against the Hurricanes, winning the last 29 duals after losing the first two matchups between the programs during the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons.
Coach Poppell now moves to 3-0 all-time versus the in-state rival, outscoring Miami by an overall tally of 583-279.
With today’s win, Florida will end the 2020 portion of their dual meet schedule with a 1-1 mark.
Some members of the team will get back into the pool with the US Open in Sarasota next week on Nov. 12-14. Swimming will wrap up on Nov. 18-20 at the Auburn Invitational.
Divers will take to the boards in the final competition of the fall at the Miami Diving Invitational on Dec. 2-4 in Coral Gables.
Florida jumps back into action at the Ann Marie Rogers Swimming and Diving Pool in their final home meet of the season on Jan. 9, 2021 against Texas A&M before wrapping up the season with their final dual of the regular season at Auburn on Jan. 23.