(from left to right) Dillon Hillis, Josh Liendo, Macguire McDuff and Adam Chaney after their 400 Medley Relay record-breaking win at NCAA Championships. (photo courtesy of floridagators.com)

Gators break 3 NCAA Records at NCAA Championships

Three NCAA records were broken this week. The Florida men’s swimming and diving team smashed three NCAA records and stole four National Championship titles to finish sixth at this year’s NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship. For the first time since the 2014-2015 season, both the men’s and women’s teams finished in the top 10 at NCAAs.

Day 1 done

Championships commenced on March 22 with the 200 medley relay and the 800 free relay. Florida’s Adam Chaney, Aleksas Savickas, Eric Friese and Josh Liendo were only 0.07 of a second from taking second place. Regardless, the men earned All-American honors.

Macguire McDuff, Jake Mitchell, Alfonso Mestre and Julian Smith competed in the 800 relay, earning fifth place and All-American honors.

First record on day 2

Day two’s finals began with Gators in the 500 free A final. Jake Mitchell swam for fifth place while Alfonso Mestre took last in the heat. Diver Leonardo Garcia qualified for the B final of the 1-meter and placed 15th overall with 328.15 points.

One of the most electric races of the week, the 50 free, was a highly anticipated race. Florida freshman Josh Liendo swam an 18.40 for second place after almost beating Jordan Crooks of Tennessee. Crooks is the 2022 Short Course World Champion in the 50 free. Both Crooks and Liendo had a showdown at SECs in the event, where Crooks ultimately won.

Although, Crooks was dead last off the blocks, giving Liendo an opportunity for the win. But off the wall, Crooks dominated his underwaters, leading him to the title.

The highlight of the evening was the collapse of a 14-year old record set by Auburn in 2009. The 200 free relay team of Liendo, Adam Chaney, Eric Friese and Macguire McDuff set a new record at 1:13.35.

Day 2 consecutive records

Mason Laur kicked off the evening by earning his first career All-American honors in the 400 IM B final. Jake Mitchell also swam in the B final of his 200 free event, finishing 10th at 1:32.36. Finishing fourth in the country, Adam Chaney went 44.42 in the 100 backstroke.

In his final individual event as a Gator, Dillon Hillis went a best time, 50.88, in the 100 breast. He collected All-American honors and fifth place.

Liendo swam the third-fastest time in 100 butterfly ever at 43.40. He earned second place and his fourth All-American honor of the week.

For the second night in a row, the Gators destroyed another NCAA relay record. Chany, Hillis, Liendo and McDuff busted the five-year 400 medley relay record with an impressive 2:58.32. Liendo was on fire, splitting the fastest fly leg ever registered at 42.91. He is the only swimmer in history to record a sub-43 split.

The last time the Gators won this event was 32 years ago when head coach Anthony Nesty was on the team.

Liendo can’t be stopped on day 4

Alfonso Mestre won the second heat of the 1650 free for All-American honors and 10th place. Freshman Aleksas Savickas 1:50.48 in the A final of the 200 breaststroke and took All-American honors. Joaquin Gonzalez Pinero seized his first-ever All-American honors in the 200 fly at 10th place.

Leonardo Garcia tied for sixth in the country in the platform event. He recorded 366.35 points and his sixth All-American honor of his career.

Liendo, on a speed streak, took home Florida’s only individual National Championship in the 100 free. Clocking a 40.28, he is the second-fastest ever in the event, only behind Florida’s own Caeleb Dressel.

Florida took home the National Championship in the final event of the week; the 400 free relay. Not only did they take first, but the Gators also broke another NCAA record for the third consecutive night. The elite team of Liendo, Chaney, Julian Smith and McDuff documented a 2:44.07 for the fastest time in the country. Liendo, Chaney and McDuff were a part of all three record-breaking relays, and McDuff anchored all of them.

The Florida men’s team took home 27 All-American honors by the end of the week, closing out a remarkable season.

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