Entering 2013, it had been a long time since Florida's men won an SEC title in the pool over Auburn, at least heading into last year. Auburn had won 16 straight titles in a streak that extended over three decades, and all the way back to 1997.
Now, after a dominant showing at the 2014 SEC Championships over the last five days, it's Florida that has won two straight — and Florida that might just win its first national title in the pool in 30 years.
The Gators compiled 1,440 total points to finish well ahead of Auburn (1280.5), winning nine of 20 events and pulling away from the Tigers by all but doubling their lead — Florida entered Saturday with an 80-point advantage, and finished the meet with a 159.5-point margin of victory — on the final day. The victory solidifies their claim to the No. 1 ranking they have held since February 11, and this team has a chance to knock off defending national champion Michigan and 2011 and 2012 champion Cal at the NCAA Championships in late March.
Florida will need good times from most of its swimmers to beat the Wolverines, Golden Bears, and host Texas, but having fleet merpeople like SEC Swimmer of the Year Sebastien Rousseau, who won the Commissioner's Trophy for most points at the SEC Championships by winning the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, and 200 butterfly, and Arthur Frayler, who broke a 28-year-old school record in winning the mile — but still gets listed under "University of Georgia" in the SEC's official recap of Saturday, because #KeepSleeping isn't just about basketball — gives Florida a chance to get those times.
And if Florida's men do win the national championship, it will be their first trip back to the top of the collegiate swimming world since before all of them were born — the Gators last won it all in 1984.
Florida's women, on the other hand, are a year or two from competing for a national title, and finished a distant third behind reigning SEC dynasty Georgia, which claimed its fifth straight SEC title, and Texas A&M at the SEC Championships.
Florida's Elizabeth Beisel became just the fourth swimmer in SEC history to win four SEC titles in multiple individual events by finishing her collegiate dominance of the 400 individual medley and 200 backstroke, events that yielded silver and bronze medals for her at the 2012 Olympics, but her Commissioner's Trophy wasn't nearly enough to keep pace with Georgia, which tallied a massive 1,589 points, and looks like a contender to repeate as national champion even without Olympian Allison Schmitt, who graduated from Georgia in 2013.
Florida won three titles — Beisel's two, and Ellese Zalewski's win in the 100 butterfly — for the second straight year, but finished well behind the Dawgs, and significantly behind A&M (1,204 points) with 1,130 points. The Gators will be swimming for a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships, but harbor no real NCAA title hopes.
Here are the full lists of Florida's men's and women's swimming SEC titles this year:
Florida Men's Swimming, 2014 SEC Titles
|Christian-Paul Homer, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak, Brad deBorde||200 medley relay||1:24.53|
|Corey Main, Sebastien Rousseau, Marcin Cieslak, Dan Wallace||800 freestyle relay||6:13.03|
|Dan Wallace||500 freestyle||4:10.73|
|Sebastien Rousseau||200 individual medley||1:42.22|
|Brad deBorde||50 freestyle||18.88|
|Marcin Cieslak||100 butterfly||45.69|
|Sebastien Rousseau||200 freestyle||1:33.23|
|Sebastien Rousseau||200 butterfly||1:41.07|
|Arthur Frayler||1650 freestyle (mile)||14:38.06|
Florida Women's Swimming, 2014 SEC Titles
|Elizabeth Beisel||400 individual medley||3:59.26|
|Elizabeth Beisel||200 backstroke||1:50.62|
|Ellese Zalewski||100 butterfly||51.58|