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Friday February 17, 2012Beisel Defends 400 IM Crown, Solaeche-Gomez and Cieslak Grab Gold on Third Night of SEC Championship

Knoxville, Tenn.

The Florida Gators took home three individual gold medals for the second consecutive night Friday evening at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn., as sophomore Elizabeth Beisel (North Kingstown, R.I.) opened the night with her win in the women’s 400 IM and fellow sophomore Marcin Cieslak (Warsaw, Poland) edged out the competition in the 200 free for a first-place finish – both titles were the second of the meet for both Beisel and Cieslak. Freshman import Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez (Madrid, Spain) touched first in the men’s 400 IM to claim his first-ever SEC title as a Florida Gator.

 

With just one night of competition remaining the men remain in second place with 515 points behind leader and defending conference champion Auburn with 535 points. Twenty points separate Florida from the number one spot – it was the same scenario just a year ago as the Gators trailed the Tigers 27 points heading into the final day of competition.

 

The women moved into third with 361.5 points after three Gators medaled in the finals. Georgia leads with 528 points, followed by host, Tennessee, with 436.5. Auburn trails Florida by just three-and-a-half points (358) to stand in fourth after 28 events.

 

“Our men really stepped up and swam well today,” remarked head coach Gregg Troy. “With how they swam today, they put us in a good spot heading into the final day of competition. We didn’t expect it to be this close – at all. But it’s a familiar spot for us – we always seem to be just right behind Auburn at this point.”

 

“We need to carry the momentum from tonight into tomorrow – both in the morning and finals. We saw great swims from a lot of our swimmers.”

 

Beisel clocked the second fastest time in NCAA history when she pushed into the pad at 3:58.35 – it seams like a feat – and it is. However, it just begins a long list to follow. Beisel’s time was just .12 seconds off of the NCAA record (3:58.23); it allows her to defend the 400 IM crown which she wore as a freshman last year at her home pool in Gainesville and the sub four-minute effort was the first of her career. The sophomore phenom also broke her own SEC record set last year at the Stephen C. O’Connell Natatorium of 4:00.83; and last, but certainly not least, Beisel separated herself even further 1:56.56, from the No. 2 position in the Gator records.

 

“I tried to swim my own race tonight and just go for it,” explained Beisel after the win. “It went well. It means a lot (to break the SEC record). I broke it last year so for me to break it again this year shows my improvement. Winning here at SECs is pretty humbling because there are so many great athletes here. It is a definitely an accomplishment I will keep with me.”

 

Teammate Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.) took home silver for the second consecutive year after she turned in a NCAA ‘B’ time of 4:06.42, to help open a Gator dominant Gator presence for both the men and women in the 400 IM. Senior Kirsten Smith (Cary, N.C.) also represented UF in the women’s 400 IM with a 4:14.32 swim for eighth.

 

Following Beisel’s and Crippen’s lead, and adding another, a trio of male swimmers swept the 200 IM at a pivotal moment that pushed Florida ahead of Auburn 345-311.5 for a 33.5-point advantage and a lead it would retain until the conclusion of the platform diving event.

 

Solaeche-Gomez recorded the second fastest time in the country when he stopped the clock at 3:43.57 – an automatic qualifying time to NCAAs – and claimed the first SEC title of his career. The time prints Solaeche-Gomez’s name in the Florida record book, with the seventh fastest output in school history. Not only did his finish pave his way into UF history, but it made way for a Gator sweep - the lone 1-2-3 team sweep of the meet with just one day of competition remaining as freshman Dan Wallace (North Berwick, Scotland) and Connor Signorin (East Windsor, N.J.) took second and third, respectively.

 

On his win, Solaeche-Gomez explained that, "being the SEC champion gives me motivation to keep going, to keep training every day and waking up every morning at 6 every morning to go to the pool. You can see that all your work and all that you had to do has been good to you."

 

Wallace took home his first piece of hardware when he touched in 3:45.02 for a new career-best output and silver medal. The third-place finish (3:45.86) gives sophomore Singorin a step-up from his fourth-place finish in 2011, his second career SEC medal and first of the 2012 meet.

 

While spectators could see the Gator sweep clearly coming – as all blue caps headed toward the finish at least two seconds ahead of the fourth-place finisher – the 200 free presented a little more of a challenge. Cieslak didn’t gain full control of the race until the final 25-yard, 24-second flat-split that allowed him to stop the clock at 1:34.49.

 

The Warsaw, Poland native claimed his second title of the 2012 conference championship after he won last night’s 200 IM in the same, thrilling fashion. His first 50 split was the slowest of all the swimmers, but with each turn his momentum gained as he moved into fifth after the first 100, fourth at the 150-yard marker and pushed all the way to out-touch Alabama’s BJ Hornikel by two-tenths of a second and take home gold for the Gators.

 

In describing his dramatic victory, Marcin explained that “I just swim and find a way to win – it’s what you have to do – just go out there and give it your all until you touch the wall and say that you’re finished”

 

His 1:34.49 mark breaks his best time set in the opening leg of Wednesday night’s 800 free relay (1:36.98) and puts him ninth all-time in Gator history and four times over in the record book.

 

Sophomore diver Mike Lewark (Davie, Fla.) helped the Gators in their Friday night efforts when he finished third with a career-high score of 362.65. The performance out scores he previous best score by 58.2 points (304.45). The bronze medal is the first podium finish of Lewark’s career. Teammate Chris Jones (Palm City, Fla.) finished 20th with 280.70 points.

 

“Mike did what he needed to do, he stepped up and dove the best that he ever has,” said head diving coach Donnie Craine. “I couldn’t ask any more of him. He performed his best at a time when the team needed it.”

 

Because of Lewark’s podium finish, the Gators are able to hang in-toe with the Tigers heading into the final day of competition.

 

For the men, junior Cameron Martin (Clearwater, Fla.) narrowly missed a place on the podium when he finished the 100 fly in 47.02, two-hundredths of a second behind third-place Lucas Gerotto of Kentucky (47.00). Martin also added a fifth-place effort in the 100 back with a 48.09 mark. Brad deBorde (Longwood, Fla.) submitted a personal-best 47.84 in the 100 fly to earn seventh, while a pair of freshmen earned top-eight finishes – Matt Elliott (Peoria, Ill.) in the 100  breast (sixth, 54.14) and Matt Curby (Oviedo, Fla.) in the 100 back (seventh, 48.55).

 

For the women, sophomore Hilda Luthersdottir (Hafnarfjordu, Iceland) earned the first medal of her career and third of the night for the women when she touched in 1:00.49 to finish the 100 breast in third.

 

Senior Sarah Bateman (Orlando, Fla.) added 12 points when she finished the 100 fly in 52.80 for seventh.  The pair of Jamie Bohunicky (Gainesville, Fla.) and Natasha Fung (Edmonton, Canada) took on the 200 free as Bohunicky just missed the podium with a fourth-place swim (1:46.09) and Fung finished seventh (1:47.41).

 

Both 400 medley relays took home a bronze medal in the night’s closing races.

 

The women’s quartet of Beisel, Luthersdottir, Bateman and Bohunicky originally had finished fourth in 3:34.02, until Auburn’s relay had been disqualified for an early take off. Auburn’s dismissal from the race allowed Florida to move up, grab the points and take the third-place finish.

 

Martin, Elliott, Cieslak and deBorde teamed together in the final race of the night to finish in 3:10.45 for third. The Gators picked up speed in the latter half of the race with the help of Cieslak and deBorde as they pushed into another gear to close out the race.

 

The 2012 Swimming and Diving Championships will come to a close tomorrow, with preliminary heats in the morning beginning at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. Swimmers will compete in the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, 1,650 free and 400 relay tomorrow evening, with female divers taking off the platform.

 

For full results please click, here.

 

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

 

TOP FINISHERS

Women: 400 IM – Elizabeth Beisel, 1st (3:58.35); 100 Fly – Sarah Bateman, 7th (52.80); 200 Free – Jamie Bohunicky, 4th (1:46.09); 100 Breast – Hilda Luthersdottir, 3rd (1:00.49); 100 Back – Trish Regan, 10th (54.88); 400 Medley Relay – Beisel, Luthersdottir, Bateman, Bohunicky, 3rd (3:34.02)

 

Men: Platform Diving – Mike Lewark, 3rd, (362.65 points); 400 IM – Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, 1st, (3:43.57); 100 Fly – Cameron Martin, 4th (47.02); 200 Free – Marcin Cieslak, 1st (1:34.49); 100 Breast – Matt Elliott, 6th (54.14); 100 Back – Cameron Martin, 5th (48.09); 400 Medley Relay – Martin, Elliott, Cieslak, deBorde, 3rd (3:10.45)

 

Women’s 400-Yard Medley Relay Splits

Elizabeth Beisel, back, 52.35

Hilda Luthersdottir, breast, 1:00.54

Sarah Bateman, fly, 52.40

Jamie Bohunicky, free, 48.73

 

Men’s 400-Yard Medley Relay Splits

Cameron Martin, back, 48.40

Matt Elliott, breast, 53.77

Marcin Cieslak, fly, 45.64

Brad deBorde, free, 42.64

 

WOMEN’S TEAM SCORES AFTER NIGHT 3

Place

Team

Points

1.

Georgia

528

2.

Tennessee

436.5

3.

Florida

361.5

4.

Auburn

358

5.

LSU

254

6.

Alabama

183

7.

South Carolina

165

8.

Arkansas

162

9.

Kentucky

82

10.

Vanderbilt

64

 

MEN’S TEAM SCORES AFTER NIGHT 2

Place

Team

Points

1.

Auburn

535

2.

Florida

515

3.

Tennessee

363

3.

Georgia

362

5.

LSU

295

6.

Kentucky

207.5

7.

Alabama

175

8.

South Carolina

152.5

 

DAY 3 RECAP: MORNING PRELIMS

 

Morning prelims have come to a close for the University of Florida swimming and Diving team as the men will swim nine up and 10 down, and the women seven up and six down in tonight’s finals.

 

Just 25 points behind No. 1 Auburn, the men look to close that gap with Auburn sending 10 swimmers up and just five down in tonight’s races.

 

The men bring with them a strong presence in both the 400 IM and 200 free with five swimmers collectively swimming either up or down in either final round, while the 100 fly will have four swimmers donning orange and blue caps with two in both the champion and consolation final.

 

Florida swimmers own the top two seeds of the men’s 400 IM after freshmen Dan Wallace (North Berwick, Scotland) and Eduardo Solaeche (Madrid, Spain) went on to record career-best times of 3:46.14 and 4:47.99, respectively, en route to posting two of the countries top-10 Division I times.

 

Sophomore Connor Signroin (East Windsor, N.J.), who took fourth in the 400 IM at last year’s conference championships, trails closely behind with a prelim time of 3:48.93 to be seeded fourth.

 

Although last night’s 200 IM Champion, sophomore Marcin Cieslak (Warsaw, Poland) is the only Gator to swim in the men’s 200 free championship final, he takes with him a career-best 1:35.37 performance and a top spot as the No. 2 swimmer entering the race.

 

Junior, and team captain Cameron Martin (Clearwater, Fla.) and 2012 50 free SEC Champion, Brad deBorde (Longwood, Fla.) will swim for Florida in tonight’s 100 fly finals after posting marks of 47.11 and 47.53, respectively, this morning. The 47.53 for deBorde bests his previous career time of 49.79 by more than two seconds.

 

Freshman Matt Elliott (Peoria, Ill.) will be Florida’s only swimmer in the 100 breast after he dished out the fastest mark of his career to date, 54.12, the third best time in Florida history, to advance to the finals and carry the No. 5 seed.

 

Martin will make another appearance in the finals as he’ll race for the Orange and Blue in the 100 back (48.17, personal best) alongside freshman teammate Matt Curby (Oviedo, Fla.) who touched in 48.36, a career effort.

 

In the morning’s opening event for the women, Gator and U.S. National teammates sophomore Elizabeth Beisel (North Kingstown, R.I.) and senior Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.) clocked the two fastest times heading into the championship final at 4:03.27 and 4:09.03, respectively.

 

For Beisel, the reigning 400 IM champion and SEC record holder – the time meets NCAA automatic qualifying standards. It is her second automatic, individual cut of the meet and third overall, as she was a member of the women’s 800 freestyle relay that clocked in an A-cut time on Wednesday night.

 

The pair will be joined by Kirsten Smith (Cary, N.C.), who enters the race as the six seed with a preliminary B time of 4:11.31.

 

Senior Sarah Bateman (Orlando, Fla.) will be Florida’s lone representative in the 100 fly final, after she swam a 53.04 preliminary mark this morning. She joins three other swimmers that collected ‘A’ times this morning in Tennessee’s Jenny Connolly and Auburn’s Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Olivia Scott.

 

Jamie Bohunicky (Gainesville, Fla.) and Natasha Fung (Edmonton, Canada) will swim the 200 free in tonight’s final for the Orange and Blue. The duo of freestylers enter one after another with the No. 6 and 7 seed after touching in 1:46.85 and 1:47.05, respectively.

 

Swimming down for the Florida men will be freshman Nicholas Caldwell (Sarasota, Fla.) in the 200 free; freshman Scott Heil (Skillman, N.J.) in the 200 free; freshman Christian Homer (Trinidad & Tobago) in both the 100 fly and back; senior Brian Howell (Cincinnati, Ohio) in the 400 IM; senior Gabriel Huen (Caracas, Venezuela) in both the 100 fly and back; redshirt senior Matt Norton (Port Orange, Fla.) in the 200 free; freshman Carlos Omana (Miami, Fla.) in the 400 IM and junior Jason Taylor (1:38.43) in the 200 free.

 

Swimming down for the Gator women will be senior Angelina Ballatore (Gainesville, Fla.); freshman Rebecca Rainer (Richmond, Va.) in the 400 IM; sophomore Trish Regan (Carmel, Ind.) in the 100 back; junior Corinne Showalter (Sarasota, Fla.) in the 200 free and sophomore Ellese Zalewski (Melbourne, Australia) in the 100 fly.

 

Check GatorZone.com this evening for a full recap of tonight’s finals from the Allan Jones Aquatic Center. Swimmers will take to the pool for final heats of all this morning’s events, as well as the 400 medley relays and men’s platform diving competition. For all the latest up-to-date information about the Florida swimming and diving team, make sure to follow us on Twitter at @GatorZoneSwimDv.

 

GATORS NOT ADVANCING TO CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS

 

Men

400 IM

Brian Howell, 9th, 3:50.94

Carlos Omana, 15th, 3:56.01

 

100 Fly

Christian Homer, 11th, 48.16*

Gabriel Huen, 12th, 48.18

James Turner, 21st, 48.98*

 

200 Free

Nicholas Caldwell, 10th, 1:36.98*

Scott Heil, 13th, 1:37.63*

Matt Norton, 15th, 1:38.42

Jason Taylor, 16th, 1:38.43*

Jonathan Jordan, 1:39.67

 

100 Breast

Ricky Munch, no place, 56.19*

 

100 Back

Christian Homer, 15th, 49.29*

Gabriel Huen, 16th, 49.40*

 

Women

400 IM

Rebecca Rainer, 10th, 4:14.19*

Angelina Ballatore, 11th, 4:14.40

Lauren Neidigh, no place, 4:22.65*

 

Rebecca Rainer, 10th, 4:14.19*

Angelina Ballatore, 11th, 4:14.40

Lauren Neidigh, no place, 4:22.65*

 

100 Fly

Ellese Zalewski, 9th, 53.44

Kaitlin Frehling, 19th, 54.86

Anna-Liisa Pold, 26th, 55.31

 

200 Free

Corinne Showalter, 16th, 1:49.41

Alicia Matheiu, 22nd, 1:50.16*

Sharla Milne, no place, 1:51.51

 

100 Breast

Sarra Lajnef, 14th, 1:02.01

Rebecca Rainer, 18th, 1:02.48*

 

100 Back

Trish Regan, 15th, 55.82*

Anna-Liisa Pold, 23d, 56.43*

 

*indicated personal-best time

 

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