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Tuesday February 14, 2012Gators Head to SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Knoxville

Gainesville, Fla.

The University of Florida swimming and diving team is heading to Knoxville, Tenn., for the second time this year, in search of a league title at the Southeastern Conference Championships, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 15 through Saturday, Feb. 18 at the University of Tennessee Allan Jones Aquatic Center.

Both the Florida men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs have dominated the Southeastern Conference since league competition began, dating back to 1937 for the men, and 1981 for the women. The men’s team has claimed 33 SEC Championships, 16 more than its closest competitor, Auburn (17). The women have taken 17 out of 31 possible league crowns, including 11 consecutive from 1986 through 1997, and their most recent title in 2009.

Both teams boast numerous SEC honors, as the men’s history includes 20 SEC Male Swimmer of the Year awards and four SEC Male Diver of the Year selections, while the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year has been a Gator 18 times, and the SEC Female Diver of the Year has been a Gator five times. Florida Coaches have also earned 21 SEC Swimming Coach of the Year Accolades with head coach Gregg Troy receiving the honor four times, and eight SEC Diving Coach of the Year awards, including seven by current diving coach Donnie Craine.

The women enter the meet ranked No. 2 nationally, the highest of any SEC team, while the men are also the highest ranked SEC team at No.7. The Gators will be joined by 8 other teams that find themselves in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll (m/w) in No. 8/3 Auburn, No. 10/5 Georgia, No. 20/10 Tennessee and No. 19/23 LSU.

Prelims will begin everyday at 10 a.m. for swimming and 12:30 p.m. for diving, with finals slated for 6 p.m. each evening.

For live stats, schedule of events, ticket and parking information please visit Tennessee’s 2012 Swimming and Diving SEC Championships page, here.

For meet notes, please follow this link.

For all the latest news and updates from the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships, Gator fans are encouraged to follow the swimming and diving program via Twitter @GatorZoneSwimDV and Facebook.  

SEC Notables for the Florida Gators

Swimmers Brad deBorde, Teresa Crippen and Elizabeth Beisel give you the need-to-know for SECs.
Head Coach Gregg Troy previews the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships with the media.

Gator Returners
Florida returns sophomores and 2011 SEC Male and Female Swimmers of the Year in Marcin Cieslak (Warsaw, Poland) and Elizabeth Beisel (North Kingstown, R.I.), respectively. The duo each took home a conference title following their freshman campaign as Cieslak is the lone reigning conference champion for the men’s team (200 fly), and Beisel is the reigning champion in both the 200 back and 400 IM, as well as the SEC Championship record-holder in the 400 IM (4:00.83).

Senior Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.) is the 2011 champion in the 200 fly, and looks to defend her title in her final SEC Championship meet.

Nine top-five finishers from last year’s conference meet return for the Orange and Blue with six members of the women’s team: Sarah Bateman (Orlando, Florida) who finished second in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 fly; Jamie Bohunicky (Gainesville, Fla.) who took fifth in the 200 and fourth in the 500 free, Corinne Showalter  who finished the 1,650 free in third; Trish Regan (Carmel, Ind.) who took fifth in the 200 back, Hilda Luthersdottir (Hafnarfjordur, Iceland) who finished fifth in the 100 Breast; and Sarra Lajnef (Tunis, Tunisia) who finished fourth overall 200 breast.

 

The men return three top-five finishers in Brad deBorde (Longwood, Fla.) – last year’s third-place finisher in the 50 free; Connor Signorin (East Windsor, N.J.) who took second in the 1,650 free and fourth in the 400 IM and Cameron Martin (Clearwater, Fla.) who finished fourth in the 200 fly.

 

Unmarked

For the seventeenth time in program history, the men's swimming and diving team ended the season without dropping a loss in dual competition, although they did tie Georgia 150-150 on October 20, 2011. It marked the first tie of Head Coach Gregg Troy's career, and the first since 1958 when Florida tied Florida State 43-43. The Gators were also undefeated in 1930, 1935, for a six-year span from 1936-41, 1963, 1977, for three consecutive seasons 1979-1981, 1986, 1988 and most recently in 2010.

 

Yet To Be Beat

A trio of Florida Gators has remained perfect on the year in their respective events in senior sprinter Sarah Bateman, sophomore Marcin Cieslak and freshman Matt Elliott (Peoria, Ill.).

 

Bateman, the school record holder in the 50 free(22.00), has yet to drop a decision in the race in her final year as a member of the Florida swimming quad. In eight races this year for the Gators, Bateman has taken the top-spot each time - including a tie to reigning SEC and NCAA 50 free Champion – Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace from Auburn. In the meet against Tennessee the Orlando native posted a season-best 22.13. Three times this season, she has swept the top-spot in both the 50 and 100 free races.

 

Cieslak, two-time 2011-12 SEC Male Swimmer of the Week, has won every 200 fly and 200 IM race on the year in which he’s swam. Additionally, the sophomore has won all but one of his races in the 100 fly, finishing second at the Classic @ SMU to Michigan's Daniel Madwed who holds the nation's 6th best time in the event.

 

Elliott has proven to be a key contributor in the breaststroke for the Gators. The five-time SEC Male Freshman Swimmer of the Week has won the 200 breast title six times throughout his debut season, and has yet to be knocked down. He has also swept the top spot in both the 100 and 200 breast four times on the year.

 

Leading Lady

Elizabeth Beisel currently holds the lowest time in the 200 back, and is the only member of the women's squad to lead the SEC in a particular event. The sophomore sits first in the 200 back with an NCAA "B" provisional mark of 1:54.44, which she clocked at the Dallas Classic in November.

 

Nationally, her time in the 200 back is the 10th fastest time in the country, while her converted mark from Auburn is fifth.

 

Gators Boast Young Squad

The University of Florida men's swimming and diving program is the youngest in the SEC with 17 freshmen and six sophomores currently listed on its roster. Kentucky also boasts 23 underclassmen.

 

While both teams have the same number of underclassmen, 68% of the Gators squad comes from that group, while Kentucky's bundle of freshmen and sophomores makes up 64% of its roster.

 

It is actually host, Tennessee that sits behind Florida with the majority of its roster finding itself in the early years of collegiate swimming. With nine freshmen and seven sophomores to their eight upperclassmen – 67% of its team is composed of underclassmen.

Head Coach Gregg Troy SEC Preview Quotes
Opening Statement:
“We had two weeks to kind of finish our final preparations before the conference meet in Knoxville, Tenn. We’re looking forward to the great competition, and I’m pretty certain that we will get tremendous efforts from all of our athletes. We have looked good in training, but whether we’re good enough – that’s yet to be seen. On paper, it’s a very, very close men’s meet; there’s one dominant women’s team and then three or four others that trail very closely behind.

“For us, it’s kind of a dual-pronged meet. The way we approach our training is very end-of-the-year oriented, so we have to get people qualified for the NCAA meet – that gives us two focuses – one: the team score, and two: getting people qualified for the NCAA meet on both the men’s and women’s side.”

On SECs being the last time that both the men and women compete together:
“It is a different aspect, plus our conference is unique in the fact that there are not many that do swim at the same time. It has a little different approach because you can be a little flat on one side, and on the other you can be really good and pick them up. It provides for a team effort. The women go first, so they impact the men by setting the tone of the day. By the same token, the men are a little deeper than the women so if they fall short every once in a while it gives you an opportunity to get back for the next event. It provides for greater momentum swings. Both teams have to be very aware of one another.”

On the transition from hosting SECs in Gainesville last year, to traveling this year:
“We have to turn the crowd in our favor. We’ll have a lot of people turn up on our end and in our favor. SECs are usually well supported by everyone in the conference, so it’s usually somewhat even and a little in favor of the home team. We were at Knoxville two weeks ago, so we’re familiar with the facility. We have a lot of athletes with a lot of experience – they’ll handle the enthusiasm well. You feed off of the crowd no matter what, and if people are swimming well the crowd will be great, despite what side they’re cheering for.”

On team motivation after both squads finished second last year:
“I don’t know if it has a bearing on the athletes. They’re aware of that, but each team is a different group. They would like to do well, but at the same time, it is an individual sport. Our athletes swam tremendous here at home last year for SECs. We’re focused on NCAA’s – that’s always the ultimate goal. For a lot of the athletes – do we want to win the team score? Without a doubt. But, by the same token it’s probably more important that they swim fast enough in their individual events that they do qualify for NCAAs. We have some tremendous individual swimmers, but it has yet to be seen whether or not we’re deep enough team-wise to do what we need to do. A guy like Marcin Cieslak, on the men’s side, he might be one of the most dominant swimmers in the conference. Then you have athletes like Elizabeth Beisel and Teresa Crippen – those two might have already qualified for the NCAA meet, so they have a little bit of a longer focus. I don’t believe that last year’s meet has a tremendous impact on them.”

On training for this time of year:
“There is a little more edginess around this time of year; certainly a little more anticipation. We’re probably a little different than other teams in the conference – we choose not to get ready for anything in the fall – that puts us in a little bit of an eight ball because not too many people qualify for the NCAA meet at the moment. On paper, we are maybe the third best men’s team and fourth best women’s team at the meet. I think we’re better than that, unfortunately I don’t see the meet on paper. We’ll get a chance to race and see what we can do. Hopefully some of our young people step up and can handle the enthusiasm and pressure well enough that we get some big breakthroughs.”

On the competition heading into SECs:
“I don’t think we’re going to be intimidated by anyone. Our athletes like to race, and are very battle-hardened. Our women have swam the number one and two women’s team in the country this year and we beat one of them – took every one to the wall. Every time that we swim we get real good, honest efforts. Whether or not some swimmers are far along enough in their career or not, we will see those things. I think the experience that we have seen, all the racing that we have done gives us a real good advantage. Some of our swimmers went to the U.S. Nationals in the fall, so I think those things will be really good for us.”

On the impact of the seniors:
“They are the people that have seen the most. You want to hope that they will have a comforting influence on the rest of the team, and know how to handle themselves. I think their leadership the past week – being able to stay on top of training and focus on the little things – their leadership in those areas are great. On the same token, it’s kind of unique on the men’s side because we have two guys going to the meet that have never qualified before – so on the senior side there you have a little bit of inexperience there. They were actually walk-on athletes that have trained hard to get to this point – it’s the pinnacle of their careers to this point.”

On having a youthful men’s team:
“If they’re not good, we’re in trouble. They’re a very talented group that has raced well all season long. What we have seen in training would indicate that they should do pretty well. They are very versatile, but I want to say that we have nine freshmen in the meet and three or four sophomores, so the majority of the team is younger. The good part of that is that they have a lot of enthusiasm. They are experienced and shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. The bad part, is that it is four days, two sessions a day, so you have to learn how to take that enthusiasm and keep it level throughout four days of the meet.”

SEC Championship Television Coverage
Coverage of the 2012 Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be made available through ESPNU. ESPNU will air two shows, the first for the men’s championship and second for the women’s.

SEC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Air Date

Day

Time

Network

Feb. 27

Monday

5:00 PM ET

ESPNU

 

SEC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Air Date

Day

Time

Network

Feb. 28

Tuesday 

5:00 PM ET

ESPNU

 

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