Gators boast plenty of depth as season begins
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 8:21 p.m.
Coming off a year in which the Florida Gators won their first Southeastern Conference men's title since 1993 and both the men and women recorded sixth-place NCAA finishes, the UF swimming and diving teams open the 2013-14 season by hosting the fourth annual Pinch A Penny All Florida Invitational starting today in the O'Connell Center.
Joining UF for the three-day meet will be squads from Miami, Florida State, North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Nova Southeastern and Florida Southern.
“We're deep everywhere,” head coach Gregg Troy said. “The men, if there's a weakness at all, we're a little bit inexperienced and farther down the depth charts in some of the sprint events, but we feel like we can cover that real well. The divers have improved a lot over the summer, but we've got to get a little bit better there.
“On the women's side, diving is tremendous. We've got good depth and people who can swim all over the place, and it's going to allow the younger people to compete without necessarily being under the gun right away.”
Seniors Sebastien Rousseau, Marcin Cieslak, Brad deBorde and Connor Signorin head a group of 11 returning All-Americans for the UF men.
The Gators, who ended a 16-year run of SEC championships by Auburn last year after finishing runners-up to the Tigers 11 consecutive times, are focused on more than repeating as SEC champs.
“We haven't lost a dual meet in, I believe, 2 1/2 years,” Troy said. “They've got a lot of pride in what they're doing. There's been a lot of enthusiasm, and there's a lot more guys holding one another accountable.
“They took a lot of pride in winning that (SEC) last year. We might have a little bit of a target on us because we return a lot of folks and we can race well, but we feel like there are some bigger goals out there for us.”
The UF women, who won the 2010 NCAA title, return nine All-Americans, led by senior and two-time U.S. Olympian Elizabeth Beisel.
“Elizabeth Beisel can swim everything, so she gives you a great mainstay to build around,” Troy said.
“This year's sophomore class, last year's freshmen, were a real surprise. Natalie Hinds and Sinead Russell were just fantastic, and we had a big breakthrough over the summer from Alicia Mathieu, a senior.”
Preliminaries start at 10 a.m. today with finals at 7 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday, prelims begin at 9 a.m and finals at 4 p.m. Diving will take place approximately one hour after the morning sessions today and Saturday, and admission is free all weekend.