Gators swimmers clean up with SEC awards

Kieran Smith

Florida sophomore Kieran Smith was named SEC Male Swimmer of the Year and Gators men’s head coach Anthony Nesty received Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year for the second straight season, the league announced.

Florida also placed five on the All-SEC First Team, eight on the Second Team and three on the All-Freshman Team.

Also, nine UF women’s swimmers and divers earned SEC postseason honors during the same announcement.

For the men, Smith, this year’s SEC Swimmer of the Meet, earns his first career Swimmer of the Year accolade after a record-breaking SEC championship performance. He set a new American and NCAA record in the 500 free (4:06.32) on the second night of competition, as well posting a new SEC and Florida 200 free record with his lead-off split of 1:30.11 to help Florida win its eighth-straight 800 free relay event title in SEC record fashion.

He would claim another SEC event crown in the 400 IM and reel in a bronze medal with his third-place finish in the 100 free. Additionally, he was a member of two Gator relays that earned runner-up finishes.

The Gators have now won the award seven of the last 10 years (Caeleb Dressel- 2016-18, Marcin Cieslak- 2012 & 2014 and Conor Dwyer- 2010-11).

Nesty, in his second year at the helm of the Gators men’s program, garners his second-straight Coach of the Year honor after leading Florida to its eighth-straight and 41st-overall SEC title. At SEC’s, Florida tallied 15 medals, five SEC event titles and set 17 new top-10 program swims.

Under his leadership, 14 Gators were named All-Americans, which tied for the fifth-most in the nation and the most in the SEC.

Five Gators would earn All-SEC First Team accolades: Khader Baqlah, Clark Beach, Robert Finke, Gerry Quinn and Kieran Smith. The First Team consists of the top finisher in each event at SEC’s.

The Gators females, who placed seven on the Second Team and a pair on the All-Freshman team, tallied nine total postseason honors for the second-straight season after a runner-up finish at the 2020 SEC Championships, registering 1,079.5 points and seven medals over five days of competition.

Emma Ball, Leah Braswell, Sherridon Dressel, Bella Garofalo, Vanessa Pearl, Elizabeth Perez and Emma Whitner all landed on the All-SEC Second Team after posting a second or third-place finish at SEC’s.

For Ball , Braswell, Dressel, Garofalo and Pearl, this marks back-to-back postseason SEC honor after earning All-SEC recognition last season.

Perez and Whitner reel in their first career postseason conference accolade and posting their first podium finish of their careers at the conference meet.

Kathleen Golding and Allie Piccirillo were named to the All-Freshman team after placing top-eight or finishing as the highest scoring freshman in their respective event.

In their first SEC Championship experience, Golding posted a seventh-place finish in the 400 IM, while Piccirillo was the top freshman finisher in the 200 fly, tallying 16 points with her 11th-place finish.