Wednesday March 21, 2012Gators Go The Distance To Compete At NCAA Championships
Federal Way, Wash.
Federal Way, Wash.
The University of Florida men’s swimming and diving team has traveled nearly 3,000 miles to compete at the 2012 NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships in Federal Way, Wash., at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center (WKCAC). Competition will kickoff Thursday morning with the first session of timed trials taking off the blocks at 11a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, with finals following at 7 p.m. CT/10 p.m. ET. All preliminary and final sessions will follow the same start format throughout Thursday, March 22 to Saturday, March 24.
The Gators are represented by 12 swimmers, and one diver: freshman Nicholas Caldwell (Sarasota, Fla.), sophomore Marcin Cieslak (Warsaw, Poland), freshman Matt Curby (Oviedo, Fla.), sophomore Brad deBorde (Longwood, Fla.), freshman Matt Elliott (Peoria, Ill.), sophomore Mike Lewark (Davie, Fla.), junior Cameron Martin (Clearwater, Fla.), senior Matt Norton (Port Orange, Fla.), freshman Carlos Omana (Miami, Fla.), sophomore Connor Signorin (East Windsor, N.J.), freshman Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez (Madrid, Spain), senior James Turner (Ft. Pierce, Fla.) and freshman Dan Wallace (North Berwick, Scotland).
At last year’s NCAA meet, Florida collected two national championships with the help of graduate Brett Fraser and the 800 Free Relay squad to finish fifth overall – the highest finish by any SEC school at the national meet. With that, none of the swimmers on this year’s squad have yet to claim their own individual, or aid in a relay victory however, all but one of the upperclassmen has brought home at least one All-American honor during their time donning the Orange and Blue.
NCAA Notables for the Florida Gators
Six separate Gators have combined to own eight top-10 national times heading into the NCAA meet. deBorde and Cieslak each hold the highest of those posts as they are the second-lowest times nationally, in the 50 free (19.25) and 200 fly (1:42.43), respectively. Cieslak is also ranked third in the 200 IM (1:43.01) and eighth in the 200 free (1:34.49).
Elliott holds the sixth-fastest mark in the 200 breast (1:54.63), while Martin holds the seventh-lowest time in the 200 fly (1:43.54). Two Gators in Solaeche-Gomez (3:43.57) and Signorin (3:45.86) also hold national, top-10 times in the 400 IM with the third and 10th quickest times, respectively.
The Gators pulled together an impressive performance at this year’s SEC Championships which saw Cieslak selected the SEC Male Swimmer of the Year, and Commissioner’s Trophy honoree (high point award) after he was the lone male swimmer to win three individual titles: the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM.
With Cieslak’s swims under their belt, the Gators combined to win five total SEC titles as deBorde went on to claim the 50 free and Solaeche-Gomez the 400 IM.
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.
After recording his personal-best effort in the 50-free in the final dual meet of the season against Tennessee (19.57), deBorde had moved up in the record books, taking the runner-up spot in the event.
He managed to accomplish the feat one more time during the morning preliminary session at the 2012 SEC Championships when he pushed into the pad at 19.25 to take sole possession of the Florida record en route to winning his first ever, SEC title in the event. The time also leads the nation heading into the men’s NCAA Championship meet.
Lewark became the first Gator diver in over six years to make the trip to the national championship meet when he took off the platform at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships in Auburn, Ala., with a combined, overall score of 702.50 to earn the last open spot from the zone, along with a ticket to Federal Way, Wash.
Yet to be Beat
Cieslak, has remained perfect on the year in three events: the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM, including championship-winning performances in each of those events at the conference meet.
Last, but not Least
Freshman, Omana, was a late addition to Florida’s NCAA roster, as h was the first swimmer selected off the alternate list by the committee. It is a boost for the Gators in the middle distance events were Omana seems to perform best under pressure. A prime example was his performance against Auburn earlier in the season.
Up against the No. 7 Tigers, Omana pushed his Gator squad past the opponent not once, when he claimed both the 400m and 800m free. His efforts were felt most when the Gators trailed by seven points with just four races remaining. Omana pushed into the pad first, at 4:03.68 in the 400m free to give Florida a two-point advantage heading into the tail end of the meet and capture the win.
Live Coverage of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships
ESPN3 will have a live stream of Friday’s and Saturday’s events beginning at 10 p.m. ET and air a tape-delay of the championships on Sunday April 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Live streaming of all preliminary sessions, and Thursday night’s finals will be available through www.goseattleu.com, with active links at each event’s start time.
Live stats for all sessions, can be found by following this link.
For all the latest information on Florida women’s swimming and diving at the NCAA Championships, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/swimmingdiving/women or, for up-to-the-minute updates from Auburn, Ala., follow swimming and diving on Twitter @GatorZoneSwimDv. You can also follow the Gators on Facebook.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Thursday, March 22
200 Freestyle Relay
400 Medley Relay
Friday, March 23
200 Medley Relay
800 Freestyle Relay
Saturday, March 24
1,650 Free – last heat of time finals
400 Freestyle Relay