UF women take down Auburn

The ninth-ranked University of Florida women’s swimming and diving team was victorious against the seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers at the Stephen C. O’Connell Natatorium on Saturday. The win of 162-136 puts the Gators at 7-1 in dual meets and 3-1 against SEC competition. Their only loss of the season so far was against the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

“We’re not exactly where we want to be but it was good enough for today,” head coach Gregg Troy said. “Really proud of the way everyone raced the whole way through the meet was good.”

It was senior day for the Gators, but everyone contributed.

With times of 1:03.16, 2:12.79, and 2:17.59, sophomore Elizabeth Beisel lead the way with her three individual victories in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke and the 200-meter IM. Each one of her times would be enough to become eligible for an Olympic Trial Qualifying cut.

Sophomore Hilda Luthersdottir finished second in the wins category with victories in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke, stopping the clock at 1:10.89 and 2:33.44, respectively. Her times would also entitle her to Olympic Trial Qualifying cut. 

Senior Teresa Crippen finished her last meet at home for the Gators with a win in the 200-meter fly and two second-place finishes in the 200 backstroke and 200 IM.

“I felt we did really well,” Crippen said. “I was personally pleased with the events I swam and the times. It’s a tough time for getting ready for the SEC’s and NCAA’s. It’s good that it was an intense competition and it brought out the best in everybody so I was happy with how our team performed and how we got behind each other and stayed in the close races.”

“My last home meet, so I’m excited! It’s been an amazing four years. It’s taught me a lot,” she said. “Everybody thinks that it goes very quickly and some of it has. I’m not sad to see it go because I know that I spent my time here well and it’s done the best for me.”

Another senior, Sarah Bateman, enjoyed senior day as well by continuing her unbeaten streak in the 50 freestyle. She slid by Auburn’s Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace with a time of 25.61 to Vanderpool-Wallace’s 25.83. Bateman also added two second-place finishes to her portfolio in the 100 freestyle and the 100 fly with times of 57.71 and 1:01.41, respectively.

The Gators claimed the top three spots in the 200 freestyle with times of 2:01.96, 2:03.26 and 2:03.45. Ellese Zalewski touched the wall first, Jamie Bohunicky followed her up and Natasha Fung came in third. Zalewski’s 2:01.96 was an Olympic Trial Qualifying cut time.

Bohunicky would later place first in the 400 freestyle with an Olympic Trial Qualifying cut time of 4:17.60.

The Gators relay squads would earn second-place finishes in both the 200 medley and the 400 freestyle. The quartet of Beisel, Luthersdottir, Zalewski, and Bateman secured a time of 1:56.28 in the 200 medley. For the 400 freestyle, Zalewski, Fung, Crippen, and Bohunicky worked together to stop the clock at 3:49.97 to seal the win for the Gators in the last event of the day.

On the diving boards, senior Kaylee Doback finished second in the three-meter competition with a total of 310.05. She also scored 258.45 points to earn a third-place finish in the one-meter dive.

One noticeable difference from previous meets was the fan support. The natatorium was packed at the beginning of the meet to cheer the Gators on to victory. The swimmers noticed.

“It was awesome,” Crippen said. “I mean in the beginning of the meet we had standing room only for our event so and that never ever happens for a dual meet. I was like ‘Wow people actually came to this one.’ We’ve lost a few fans through the meet but it was amazing having everybody here supporting us. It was just like when we had SEC’s and there were tons of fans here. It was good to have that environment for a dual meet.”

The Gators women’s team will make a splash next week against Tennessee on Saturday at 12 p.m. against the 14th-ranked Volunteers at the Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn. Coach Troy knows this will be a good test for the Gators.

“Tennessee’s always tough at home. We’ll get the opposite end. It’ll be their senior week next week so with their seniors we’ll get their best shot,” Coach Troy said.