Despite a loss to road loss to Georgia on Friday, the No. 3 Florida Men’s Swimming and Diving is primed and ready for yet another year to claim the top of the SEC.
Head Coach Anthony Nesty, a two-time SEC Coach of the Year, opens the season for the third straight time with his team ranked third in the nation in college swimming. The Gators are coming off their eighth straight SEC Championship and are bringing back 25 returners to the pool.
Insight into Georgia Loss:
Entering the meet with a three-consecutive meet win streak over the Dawgs, the Gators couldn’t keep it rolling in a 134-164.5 defeat. Friday’s competition marked the first time the team faced competition since the SEC Championships in February.
An early disqualification for the Gator’s top relay team in the first event of the meet put Florida behind, losing an eleven-point opportunity within the first minutes of the competition. The DQ was due to an early start and would have been marked first if the race had been counted.
Florida Head Coach Anthony Nesty was pleased with his team’s overall performance but acknowledged there are areas to grow in. ” Our guys raced pretty well, our times were pretty competitive,” he said. “The only thing I didn’t like was getting DQ’ed in the first relay. ”
Nesty noted the Gators were faced with an uphill 22 point deficit from the start due to the DQ. “To swim a very competitive team like UGA, you are playing catch up from that point in time,” he said.
Some bright spots of the meet include five individual victories to start the season. Plus, squeaking out the top time in the final relay of the meet. Gator stars’ junior Robert Finke, sophomore Trey Freeman, and junior Kierman Smith all notched the nation’s fastest time in their event wins as well.
With 25 Gators coming back from a season ago, many of them are ready to find their groove again. The 2019- 2020 was put on pause right before the team was set to advance to Nationals in early Spring.
Of the 25 veterans coming back, 12 have been awarded All-American honors, 10 All-SEC honorees, and three SEC All-Freshman members. Key components include superstars Kieran Smith and Robert Finke who are loaded down with honors and titles including Smith who was named 2020 SEC Male Swimmer of the Year and Finke who set a new record in the 1,650 free and added a pair of All-American honors as well.
Also leading the Gators with speed and experience is senior Clark Beach. Beach, a member of the US National Team, earned All-SEC First Team honor as a member of Florida’s SEC Championship Record 800 free relay.
Sophomore Trey Freeman returned to the pool in the season opener after an injury-plagued freshman season and could add another anchor in the Gators already strong lineup.
Florida also added 16 fresh faces to the team, including freshman Adam Chaney. Nesty has high expectations from Chaney, a large part stemming from his time with the national junior team. “If you talk football, if you a national junior team member, you are like a five-star athlete,” he said.
The Gators will look to turn the page from their first loss and focus their efforts towards the 2020 Toyota US Open on Nov. 12-14 in Sarasota. Following that, UF will travel to Auburn to compete in the Auburn Fall Invite on Nov. 18-20. Finally, Florida will wrap up their 2020 competition at the Miami Diving Invitational on Dec. 2-4 in Coral Gables.