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Women's Swimming & Diving Headline

The Gators ended Auburn's 16-year SEC title grip a year ago.

Monday February 17, 2014UF Men Seek to Start Swimming Dynasty of Their Own

The Gators ended Auburn's 16-year SEC title grip a year ago.

By Michelle Provenzano Writing Intern
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The defending Southeastern Conference champions are looking to continue their reign.
After snapping Auburn’s 16-year dynasty at the 2013 SEC swimming and diving meet, the Gators are going into the 2014 league meet this week at Athens, Ga., with some momentum. That’s a big switch from being conference runners-up for 11 straight years before finally chasing down the Tigers last February.
The Gators capitalized on the momentum.
The Florida men went undefeated this season with a 5-0 SEC record, and even defeated rival Auburn in the regular season 180-117.
“I love this time of the year,” said junior Dan Wallace, a key cog for the UF team that captured its first conference title since 1994. “All your hard training, you’ve done that in the fall. It’s really just preparing at this point. I think as a team, we’re all really looking forward going into the five-day meet and trying to repeat what we did last year — winning for the first time in 20 years.”
Senior and 2012 Olympian Marcin Cieslak added that gaining the SEC title helped each swimmer grow more confident in himself and in the team.
Cieslak grabbed two individual crowns last year, getting first in the 100 and 200 fly — both of which were personal best times.
“It was very special to me because we lost my first two years,” Cieslak said. “I experienced the defeat, so it felt great experiencing the win and seeing Auburn being the losers.”
Cieslak holds six individual SEC championships and can put his name in rarified water by winning two more. Tom Dioguardi (1965-67), Martin Zubero (1988-91) and Ryan Lochte (2003-06) each have eight individual titles. Cieslak can even surpass those former UF superstars with three victories this week.
But if anything is motivation for Cieslak to push the envelope in his final year, it’s the confidence surrounding the team.
“There’s a lot of positive energy right now,” Cieslak said. “It’s all about doing your part to help the team. “Every place counts, every swim counts.”
It’s not only confidence that has helped the Gators push past any barriers that held them back in the past, it’s the trust the team finally has in each other.
“We all take one another for account, and so it’s all about having that pride,” Wallace said. If you start to hurt in a race, you know in the back of your head that you have to do it for your teammates. “We’re so close this year as a team that if you don’t have a great swim, it’s not the end of the world. You have your teammates to count on.”
With a chance to start a dynasty of their own, the Florida men are focusing on doing whatever it takes to keep the title in their name.
“I don’t really treat it as the end to Auburn’s winning streak,” Cieslak said. “It’s just the beginning of our winning streak.”

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