Roundup: Smith sets American swim record to pace Gators

Kieran Smith
AUBURN, Ala. — Florida’s Kieran Smith set an American and NCAA record Wednesday in winning the 500 free style in 4:06.32 at the SEC swimming and diving championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.
“It’s special,” Smith said. “Going into to the meet, we knew we could be around 4:08’s maybe, but 4:06 was incredible swim. Lights out. It just felt really, really good throughout the whole time.”
Smith’s record-breaking time helped Florida, which heads into day three in second place, win its 23rd 500 free SEC title. The mark will stand as a American, NCAA, U.S. Open, SEC, Florida and personal-record time for the event.

The Ridgefield, Conn. native’s mark beat Zane Grothe’s previous American record of 4:07.25 set on Nov. 30, 2017 by almost a full second. He beat the previous top NCAA mark of 4:08.19 (Townley Haas, March 28th, 2019) by nearly two seconds and the previous SEC record by more than four seconds.

Florida notched its third medal of the night with a second-place finish in the 200 free relay. Eric Friese, Kieran Smith, Will Davis and Isaac Davis produced the fifth-fastest swim in school history as the group combined for a swim of 1:16.33.

In Tuesday’s first day, Florida’s men’s 800 free relay team shattered multiple records on their way to an eighth straight SEC title.
The squad of Smith, Gerry Quinn, Khader Baqlah and Clark Beach combined for a SEC championship record time of 6:09.91, beating a mark set last year by the Gators in Athens, Ga., by .59 seconds.
Smith also shattered records of his own with his lead-off split of 1:30.11, the fourth-fastest swim posted in history.
The 200 medley relay team of Dakota Mahaffey, Marco Guarente, Eric Friese and Will Davis made a podium stop with their third-place nod. The squad combined for a time of 1:24.51 and was led by Will Davis’ 18.61 50 free split to anchor the relay.
The UF women enter day three of the competition in second place with 356.5 points, trailing the leader, Tennessee, by 28.5 points.

To begin the finals session Wednesday, Florida’s 200 free relay of Sherridon Dressel, Bella Garofalo, Gabby Hillis and Talia Bates combined for a time of 1:28.13, the fourth-fastest mark in school history. The time earned the group a sixth-place finish.

Individually, Vanessa Pearl would win the 200 IM B-final with the seventh-fastest time in the NCAA at the time of the swim.

Leah Braswell would also win a B-final, touching first in 500 free on Wednesday evening with a time of 4:38.22.

She would beat the remainder of her heat by two full seconds, with teammate Taylor Ault finishing runner-up in a season-best tally of 4:40.32.

Two more Gators appeared in the B-final as Savanna Faulconer would also produce a season-best time of 4:42.59 and Tori Bindi would set a personal-record in the event for the second time of the day, touching in 4:42.84.

Overall, she finished 3.5 seconds faster than her previous lifetime-best heading into Wednesday.

Bella Garofalo and Gabby Hillis wrapped-up B-finalists for Florida, as the pair finished 7th and 8th, respectively, in the 50 free. Garofalo improved on her morning swim to finish in 22.30, good for a season-best, while Hillis touched just .17 seconds later.

Tylor Mathieu, Georgia Darwent and Nikki Miller competed in the 500 free C-final, with Mathieu finishing runner-up in a new personal-best B-cut swim of 4:42.10.

Darwent would also notch a B-cut with her swim of 4:46.86, with Miller right behind her to finish in seventh-place with a mark of 4:47.83.

Kathleen Golding qualified for her first SEC Championship event final, notching a B-cut swim of 1:58.18. The mark tied for third-fastest in her heat.

For the UF women on Tuesday, the medley relay of Emma Ball, Vanessa Pearl, Sherridon Dressel and Bella Garofalo earned a bronze medal for their combined A-cut swim of 1:36.10, the third-fastest mark in program history.
Softball: No. 7 Florida defeated visiting Jacksonville 8-0 behind pitcher Natalie Lugo’s complete-game no-hitter. Lugo (5-1) struck out nine and walked one in the run-ruled five-inning contest.
Kendyl Lindaman drilled a two-run home run, Charla Echols hit a solo home run and Jordan Roberts hit a RBI single and run-scoring double to support Lugo.
Gators (12-1) will now take flight to Palm Springs, Calif., to take on nationally ranked No. 1 UCLA, No. 5 Arizona, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 25 Northwestern at the Marry Nutter Collegiate Classic. The team will close out the classic against Nebraska on Sunday.
Florida holds an all-time record of 23-0 against Jacksonville (7-4).