GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida sent its seniors out in style Saturday, sweeping Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee on Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The No. 5 men’s team defeated the No. 7 Vols 198-101 while the No. 8 Gator women triumphed against the No. 10 Lady Vols by a 180-120 margin.
“We saw improvement once again today,” head coach Gregg Troy said. “I’m really proud of the effort our team showed out there. The women continue to overcome adversity, while the men’s side had young men like Alex Martin and John Lehtonen step up and race well.”
The 97-point victory for the UF men is the most lopsided win against UT in school history, while being the most points scored by the Gator men and the largest margin of victory in a one-day dual meet since a 208-88 conquest over Florida Atlantic on Jan. 26, 2001. The 198 points were UF’s most in a one-day SEC dual meet since outscoring South Carolina 248-68 on Oct. 27, 2000, which was also the last time the men of Orange and Blue had a 90-plus point margin of victory in SEC competition.
The Florida women improved to a perfect 25-0 all-time against the women of Tennessee, winning by the largest margin of victory against UT since a 157-86 win on Jan. 26, 2007. The 60-point victory against Tennessee was the biggest SEC win for the Gator women since defeating Auburn by 80 points (195-115) on Jan. 22, 2010. Last year’s Senior Day in Gainesville against the Tigers also marked the last time the UF women topped the 180 mark in scoring.
On a day recognizing him and 10 other seniors, captain Conor Dwyer won three separate events, including swimming the fastest NCAA time this year in the 400-yard individual medley. Dwyer clocked in at a personal best and NCAA “B” cut time of 3:44.73, the eighth-fastest mark in school history. Earlier in the meet, Dwyer won the 200-yard freestyle with a NCAA provisional mark and UF season-best time of 1:34.33, the fastest time in the SEC (fourth nationally). In the first swimming event of the day, Dwyer teamed with redshirt sophomore Marco Loughran, freshman Marcin Cieslak and fellow senior Brett Fraser to capture the 200-yard medley relay with a UF season-best tying NCAA “B” cut of 1:28.84.
All three of Dwyer’s teammates picked up victories as well, including sweeps of the backstroke and butterfly events.
Loughran swept the 100 and 200 back with NCAA qualifying times of 47.78 and 1:44.01, respectively. Both UF season-best times were top-five marks in the SEC this year, while his finish in the 200 back is 11th-fastest nationally. Cieslak swept the 100 and 200 fly with UF season-best and NCAA provisional times, including swimming the second-fastest mark in the SEC this year in the 100 fly (47.84). Cieslak swam the fastest time by a SEC freshman (third overall) in the 200 fly this season (1:45.45), with the time ranking 12th nationally. The Polish newcomer also finished fourth with a NCAA “B” cut and personal-best time of 3:54.29 in the 400 IM, giving him the third-fastest time by a SEC freshman this season. Fraser picked up his lone individual event win of the day with a 44.38 finish in the 100 free.
An Olympian from the Cayman Islands, Fraser picked up his second relay win of the day in the final event of the afternoon, pairing with junior James Turner, freshman Brad deBorde and sophomore Sebastien Rousseau to capture the 400-yard freestyle relay with a NCAA “B” cut time of 2:58.50, UF’s fourth cut of the season in the event. Individually, Turner finished second in the 50 free (personal-best 20.38) and 100 free (season-best 44.69).
Rousseau also finished second in a race, swimming a personal best NCAA qualifying time of 1:37.77 in the 200 free. Finishing fourth in the same event with a collegiate- best NCAA “B” Cut time of 1:38.23 was sophomore Jonathan Jordan. Jordan’s best finish of the day came in the 500 free, where the sophomore took second with a personal best and NCAA provisional time of 4:25.02.
Having one of the best meets of his career was sophomore John Lehtonen, who captured his first victory of the season in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke with a blistering personal and UF season-best time of 1:57.81. Lehtonen’s first NCAA “B” cut of the season was the sixth-quickest in school history, second-fastest in the SEC this season and the fastest mark by a UF swimmer since the school record was broken at the 2009 NCAA Championships. Lehtonen also finished second in the 400 IM with a personal best and NCAA qualifying time of 3:49.71, the fifth-fastest SEC time this season (11th nationally).
Other winners for the Gator men included senior Balazs Gercsak and freshman Connor Signorin. On a day recognizing him, Gercsak triumphed in the 500 free with a season-best NCAA qualifying time of 4:24.73. Ten events earlier in the 200 fly, the Hungarian took second with a season-best NCAA provisional mark of 1:46.74. Signorin found success in the 1,000 free, where the Jan. 11 SEC Male Freshman of the Week finished first with a collegiate-best 9:08.84. The time is the sixth-fastest in the SEC in the event this year (second fastest by a SEC freshman).
Senior Alex Martin celebrated his Senior Day by taking third in the 400 IM with his first NCAA “B” cut of the season. Martin’s personal-best time of 3:51.66 is the sixth-fastest mark in the SEC this year in the event. Other Gators picking up their first NCAA “B” cuts of the season included junior Gabriel Huen in the 200 fly (season-best 1:48.05) and freshman Karl Wolk in the 200 back (1:45.46)