800-meter free strong for Gators at nationals

Caeleb Dressel looks at the times after winning the men's 100-meter butterfly at the U.S. national championships swimming meet Friday, July 27, 2018, in Irvine, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Special to Gatorsports.com

IRVINE, Calif. – The men’s 800-meter freestyle proved to be a strong event for the Florida swimmers on the final day of competition of the Phillips 66 Nationals. Ben Lawless broke a program record and set a personal-best time in the 800-meter freestyle.

In heat eight of the men’s 800-meter freestyle, Lawless took eight seconds off of his personal best and swam a 7:57.56 and placed fourth in his heat, ninth overall. Incoming freshmen, Robert Finke and Trey Freeman achieved personal-best swims as well. Finke swam the third-fastest time of the day with a 7:51.45, as he destroyed his previous best time by eight seconds. Freeman beat his previous best time by nearly six seconds, with a time of 7:56.53 and earned an eighth-place finish overall. The personal bests did not stop there. Mitch D’Arrigo notched an 8:06.65. D’Arrigo knocked two seconds off of his previous best and finished 24th overall.

Gator great Caeleb Dressel finished second in the A Final of the men’s 50-meter freestyle, after he swam a 21.67.

Taylor Ault put forth a strong showing in the women’s 1500-meter freestyle, with a 16th overall finish. Ault swam a 16:32.01 and finished fourth in her heat.

Hannah Burns set a new personal-best time in the 200-meter individual medley prelims with a time of 2:15.18. Burns qualified for the B Final, where she swam a 2:17.03 and finished seventh, 15th overall. Incoming freshman Vanessa Pearl won the D Final with a time of 2:14.71, which is a new personal best.

Kieran Smith qualified for the B Final in the men’s 200-meter individual medley with a time of 2:00.66. He posted a time of 2:01.46 in the B Final. Smith placed sixth in the B Final and 14th overall. Grant Sanders posted a second-place finish in the C Final, with a swim of 2:02.03. Incoming freshman Miguel Cancel swam a 2:03.73 in the D Final and placed fifth.

Eight personal bests were set on the final day of competition at the Phillips 66 Nationals. Pearl, Cancel, Finke, Freeman, Lawless, and D’Arrigo all posted personal bests during finals. Burns and Leah Braswell posted their best times during the women’s 200-meter individual medley prelims. Braswell swam a 2:18.73 and finished third in her heat.

Gator alumni Caeleb Dressel and Conor Dwyer will be joined by incoming freshman Robert Finke at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, Japan. The Pan Pacs will run from Aug. 9-Aug. 14.