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Saturday January 25, 2014Gators senior deBorde Savors Senior Day, Rivalry with Auburn's Chierighini

Florida seniors Martin Cieslak, Brad deBorde and Elizabeth Beisel talk about Senior Day.

By Michelle Provenzano Writing Intern

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sprinter and captain Brad deBorde has had a storied career at Florida.

School-record holder in the 50 freestyle, 14-time All-American, 11-time All-Southeastern Conference selection, and the list goes on.

Now in his final season with the Gators, deBorde is trying to savor every moment left — especially when it comes to competing in the 50 free.

When the Gators took to the pool against Auburn on Saturday for Senior Day, deBorde’s greatest challenge was taking on his biggest rival, Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini. (Click here for complete meet results).

deBorde and Chierighini are two of the SEC's premiere swimmers in the 50 free and 100 free.

It was a bittersweet day for deBorde on Saturday. He helped the UF men defeat Auburn 180-117. He'll take that. However, in the 50 free deBorde finished at 19.84 seconds, .14 seconds shy of Chierighini, who finished first at 19.71 seconds.

In the 100 free, Chierighini prevailed with a time of 43.81 seconds. deBorde's teammate, Pawel Werner, finished second (44.21) and deBorde touched the wall third (44.28).

“I gave it my best today and came up a little short, but it was still a fun race,” deBorde said of his effort in the 50 free.

The senior from Longwood, Fla., has held his own in the event all season long, taking the top spot in meets against Georgia, Alabama, Florida State, and in invitational competition at the Ohio State Buckeye Invitational and the SMU Invitational.

But when facing Chierighini, it’s been a constant battle for deBorde.

“Marcelo and I have kind of been competing since really our first meet, which was at Auburn that year,” deBorde said. “I’ve only got two more shots against him, and I’ll have to give it my all.”

In 2012, deBorde finished on top with a 19.29 time to grab the 2012 50 freestyle over Chierighini at the SEC Championships.

“It was a highlight for sure,” deBorde said.

Even though deBorde went on to notch his career best time in the 50 free and shattered Florida’s record in that event with a 19.12 time in the 2013 SEC Championships, Chierighini powered through to dethrone deBorde in the event with an 18.88 time.

But in his eyes, all deBorde saw was progress.

“I’ve come a long way,” deBorde said. “I wasn’t prepared for anything when I came in, and the first year was really hard for me.

“But every year since, I’ve just gotten more and more confident. I’ve always had faith in the work that we’re doing, but having it pay off year by year just really solidifies my belief in the program.”

Aside from the competition, deBorde found something he could cherish even more than his accomplishments in the pool — the family he became a part of four years ago and the one he'll be a part of when he hangs up his suit.

“I really had to compose myself before we started,” deBorde said of being honored at Senior Day. “As I looked down the line, it just meant so much to me.

“In some families it’s like how big a family is depends on how many kids your parents had, but here I can honestly say I have 80 people in my family. This group is just so tight-knit and I care about everyone so much that it’s been such a blessing.

“When you have teammates that are equally as happy about your success as you are, I knew that I found the right team. I felt like I was on top of the world.”


Gators coach Gregg Troy discusses the Gators' Senior Day sweep of Auburn on Saturday.

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