Friday January 30, 2009No. 8 Florida Rolls No. 10 Tennessee, 159.5-140.5, in SEC Finale
In the thrilling SEC finale for the Gator men’s swimming and diving team, No. 8 Florida defeated conference foe No. 10 Tennessee, 159.5-140.5, for their fourth SEC win of the season Friday. Both teams claimed victory in eight races of the 16-event meet lineup, just one indication of the close competition between the two squads that set the tone of the showdown.
With the win, the Gators improve to 7-2 overall, 4-1 SEC, while the Vols fall to 5-3 overall, and 2-1 in SEC competition.
Senior Bradley Ally (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), juniors Shaune Fraser (George Town, Cayman Islands) and Clark Burckle (Louisville, Ky.), and sophomore Balazs Gercsak (Budapest Hungary) provided the leadership, depth and competitive nature that propelled the Gators in tight races against the Vols.
Ally claimed the 100 fly in 48.35 and took second in the 200 fly race (1:47.34), in addition to his contributions in both the 200-yard medley and 400-yard free relays, while teammate Gercsak rallied for victories in the 200-yard fly (1:47.26) and 500-yard free (4:24.73).
Fraser kicked it in to gear, winning the 200-yard free (1:36.63) with an NCAA provisional mark in just one second off his season-best mark of 1:35.53. Fraser additionally rallied for second in the 100 fly (48.75) and third in the 100 free (44.37), stacking the depth Florida would need to pull away from the Vols. Following his individual success, Fraser turned around to swim the fastest 100 free split of Florida’s second-place 400-yard free relay, clocking a 43.50 third leg.
Burckle finished second in both the 100-yard breast (55.06) and 200-yard breast (2:00.06) behind Tennessee’s Brad Craig in each, and swam the breaststroke leg of UF’s second-place 200-yard medley relay that swam a 1:28.32.
Florida freshmen Anthony Lewark (Davie, Fla.) and Colin Bell (Coral Springs, Fla.) led the men on the diving boards, Lewark placing first and second on the one-meter (339.76) and three-meter boards (354.68), respectively. Both scores were season bests for Lewark, who improved upon his existing NCAA Zone B Diving Championship qualification marks. Bell rallied for sixth in the one-meter competition (289.20) and fifth on the three-meter board (304.95), both season-bests for the newcomer.
After the opening relay, senior Cody Kauffman (Harrisburg, Pa.) and sophomore Joey Pedraza (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) went 1-2 in the 1,000-yard free with times of 9:05.79 and 9:09.19, respectively.
Florida senior Rex Tullius (Port Orange, Fla.) won the 200-yard back (1:45.68) and finished third in the 100-yard back (48.76), while junior Omar Pinzon (Bogota, Colombia) placed first in the 200-yard IM (1:48.41), second in the 100 back (48.41) and third in the 200 back (1:46.58).
Senior Jos Smith (Milledgeville, Ga.) and junior Raul Martinez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) raced to the second and third-place spots in the 50 free, tapping in at 20.23 and 20.36, respectively.
Florida returns to action Saturday, Jan. 31, as it honors seven senior men prior to hosting a showdown between in-state opponents Florida Gulf Coast University and Indian River State College. One-meter diving competition is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m., while the seniors will be honored at 12:30 p.m. Swimming competition will kick off at 1 p.m. from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium.