Lawless’ Distance Sweep Helps Gators to Victory over Alabama

FLORIDA VS. ALABAMA
Hosted by Florida Wednesday, October 25th 25 Yards Dual Meet Format
FINAL TEAM SCORES:

Florida hosted its first SEC meet of the season on Wednesday, as the Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Gainesville for dual meet action. The defending SEC champion Gator men won a close battle with Alabama by 18 points, while the Gator women picked up a 28-point victory.

MEN: Florida 158, Alabama 140 WOMEN: Florida 166, Alabama 134

Florida’s Ben Lawless, a 2016 NCAA scorer in the mile, led the way with 2 individual wins. He opened with a 15:19.82 in the 1650 free, leading a 1-2 finish with teammate Blake Manganiello (15:26.03). He then went on to win the 500 free with the only sub-4:30 time of the field, touching in 4:28.81.

NCAA sprint champion Caeleb Dressel put up a 19.90 in the 50 free to touch ahead of Alabama’s Zane Waddell (20.18). He was slightly faster than that on the leadoff leg of the 200 free relay in 19.86. Dressel also swam the 200 free (1:37.46), finishing 3rd behind teammate Khader Baqlah (1:36.92) and Alabama’s Robert Howard (1:37.35).

Gator freshman Taylor Ault picked up the first dual meet win of her collegiate career for the women. Her 16:44.84 was over 5 seconds faster than her time from the All-Florida Invite. Following closely behind was teammate Kahra Williams in 16:45.83.

Ault also took 3rd in the 500 free (4:57.12). Winning that race was Savanna Faulconer, who touched over 4 seconds ahead of anyone else in 4:50.98. Faulconer took 2nd in the 200 free (1:50.18) earlier in the session. She got off to the early lead, but was outpaced by teammate Kelsey Dambacher (1:49.27) on the back half. Faulconer closed the session with another runner-up finish in the 400 IM. She battled closely with teammate Kelly Fertel, with Fertel pulling narrowly ahead after the backstroke leg and extending her lead to win it in 4:14.04 to Faulconer’s 4:15.05.

Alabama freshman Flora Molnar turned in a pair of wins for the women. In the 100 free, she turned in a 50.18 to out-swim Florida’s Sherridon Dressel (50.74), becoming the 9th fastest performer in school history in the process. She later won the 100 fly, taking the early lead and holding off teammate Hannah Musser (54.60) to win in 54.49. Teammate Justine Macfarlane also won a double for the tide with times of 1:02.30 in the 100 breast and 2:14.14 in the 200 breast.

The Tide’s Laurent Bams swam the first 100 breast of his collegiate career, dominating the 100 breast by over 2 seconds in 53.40. That made him the 4th fastest swimmer in program history. Bams later swam the 100 fly, touching in a 46.89 that would have placed 1st had he not been ultimately DQed. Florida’s Jan Switkowski won the event in 47.87, followed by Maxime Rooney in 48.45.

All-American backstroker Luke Kaliszak, one of the top contenders for the SEC and NCAA 100 back title this season, picked up a win in the 100 back. He used his front half speed to take the edge over teammate Christopher Reid, the 200 back SEC champ, and held him off to win it 48.25 to 48.82.

PRESS RELEASE – FLORIDA:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In the first dual meet of a packed SEC week for the Gators, the No. 3 Florida men defeated No. 16 Alabama, 158-140, while the No. 20 Gator women topped the Crimson Tide, 166-134 at the Alabama Aquatics Center.

Senior Ben Lawless led the way for the Gator men, claiming two individual wins in the 500 and 1,650 free races. He recorded a time of 4:28.81 in the 500 free and swam a 15:19.82 in the 1,650.

Khader Baqlah and Caeleb Dressel aided the men’s eight individual wins with first-place finishes of their own in the 200 free and 50 free, respectively. Baqlah swam a B-cut 1:36.92 in the 200 free, while Dressel posted a B-cut time of 19.10 in the 50 free.

Marco Guarente earned his first individual win of the season, topping the 200 breast field with a time of 2:01.80. The SEC Male Swimmer of the Week, Jan Switkowski, finished first in the 100 fly with a time of 47.87 and classmate Mark Szaranek won the 400 IM, posting a swim of 3:50.44.

Alex Farrow rounded out the individual wins for the Gator men, claiming first on the 3-meter board with a score of 322.20.

On the women’s side, the Gators collected nine individual wins, including two from sophomore Brooke Madden. She posted a score of 285.60 on the 1-meter and 296.40 on the 3-meter to sweep both events.

Taylor Ault earned the second win of her collegiate career, registering a time of 16:44.84 in the 1,650 free. She was followed up by Kelsey Dambacher and Emma Ball, who recorded first-place finishes in the 200 free (1:49.27) and 100 back (53.80), respectively. Ball’s time of 53.80 was a B-cut qualification.

Hannah Burns tallied her second individual win of the season as well, swimming a 2:00.38 in the 200 fly. Kelly Fertel and Savanna Faulconer continued their successes, winning the 400 IM (4:14.04) and the 500 free (4:50.98), respectively.

Closing out the women’s individual wins was Sydney Sell, who’s first win of the season came in the 200 back where she finished with a time of 1:59.50.

The Gators return to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to face Georgia on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. Thursday’s session contains diving, while Friday’s contains both swimming and diving. The first 200 students to the O’Dome on Friday will receive a free pink T-shirt for breast cancer awareness.

How it Happened

Lawless led the men’s eight wins, picking up two of his own en route to Florida’s victory. The women finished with nine individual wins, thanks in part to Madden’s sweep of the boards. The men recorded seven B-cut times on Wednesday, with Dressel recording two. Baqlah, Rooney, Switkowski, Szaranek, Grant Sanders were responsible for the others. The women notched three B-cut times, with Ball, Fertel, and Faulconer all hitting the mark. Three divers recorded four NCAA Zone qualifying scores at Alabama, with Madden notching on the 1 and the 3-meter boards. Syskakis and Farrow both registered the scores on the 3-meter board. The women recorded 25 top-3 finishes at the meet, while the men registered 26 swimmers in the top-3.

Straight from the Source – Head Coach Gregg Troy:

“We did a great job racing on both sides. Very good team effort, despite not winning any relays. The divers did an especially good job today.”
“The divers did well today. Not their best diving today, but at this point in the season that is expected. The great thing is that we competed much better. Coming off of the Indiana/Texas meet, that was our main focus and they did just that.” “If you can miss a dive and not let it take you out of the competition, you can still earn some valuable team points. Going 1-2 in three events is a testament to that. Now let’s see if we can maintain that focus against Georgia.”

Up Next

The Gators return to Gainesville to face SEC opponent Georgia on Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s session will contain only diving and will begin at 6 p.m. Friday kicks off at 10 a.m. and will feature both swimming and diving. This will be streamed on the SEC Network + as well as the WatchESPN app. The Georgia Bulldogs are ranked in the CSCAA Top 25 Poll, with the women sitting at sixth and the men ranked 12th. Follow @GatorsSwimDv as well as the meet mobile app for the latest updates on the races.
PRESS RELEASE – ALABAMA:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama swimming and diving teams battled to the end against the Florida Gators Wednesday afternoon, coming up just short in both the men’s and women’s meets. The Crimson Tide men fell 158-140, while Alabama women lost 166-134. It was the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

“While I’m not happy that we didn’t win the meets, I couldn’t be prouder of the effort from the team today,” UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. “They went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the country and really gave it their best shot.”

The Tide started the day by sweeping the men’s and women’s 400 medley relays. Senior Bailey Scott, juniors Justine Macfarlane and Katie Kelsoe and freshman Flora Molnar combined for a time of 3:39.57 to win the opening women’s relay. Senior Luke Kaliszak, juniors Laurent Bams and Robert Howard along with sophomore Zane Waddell claimed victory for the men with a time of 3:09.90.

The Tide closed the meet the same way they started it, winning the men’s and women’s 200 freestyle relays. Seniors Temarie Tomley and Lindsay Morrow, Molnar and Scott claimed the victory for the women with a time of 1:31.85. Freshman Jack Blake, Waddell, Bams and Howard combined for a time of 1:18.88 to secure men’s win.

“We raced hard and tough all the way to the very end,” Pursley said. “Even when it was clear that we were going to come up on the short end, they finished strong with a statement, winning those relays to end the meet.”

In between the relays, the Tide men tallied six individual wins while the women won five. Highlights include Molnar posting a 50.18 to become the ninth fastest 100 freestyler in UA history in just her second collegiate meet and Bams going 53.40 in his first collegiate 100 breaststroke to become the fourth fastest UA swimmer ever in that event. Molnar would go on to add a win the 100 butterfly (54.49) later in the meet.

Kaliszak took first in the 100 backstroke after touching the wall with a 48.25. Fellow senior Christopher Reid took second in the 100 backstroke (48.82), before touching the wall with a 1:45.32 in the 200 backstroke to reel in another individual win for the men.

Senior Will Freeman won the 200 butterfly (1:46.41) and was second in the 500 freestyle (4:30.94). Howard (43.72) and Waddell (44.32) went one and two in the 100 freestyle.

Junior Robbie Costine and senior David Morton took first and second off the men’s 1-meter springboard. Costine took top honors with a score of 342.38, while Morton was second with a 281.63.

Macfarlane had a very good day in the breaststroke events. In addition to swimming the breaststroke leg on the winning 400 medley relay, she took top honors in both the 100 (1:02.30) and 200 (2:14.14) breaststroke events. Junior Sarah Helm took second in the 100 breaststroke clocking a 1:03.83.

Scott (23.06) and senior Lindsay Morrow (23.33) took first and second, respectively, in the 50 freestyle. Molnar continues to impress in her rookie season, earning individual wins in both the 100 freestyle (50.18) and 100 butterfly (54.49). Senior Hannah Musser took second in the 100 butterfly touching the wall with a 54.60.

Alabama returns to action Friday, Oct. 27, traveling to Auburn, Ala. to take on the Auburn Tigers.

For all the latest information on the Alabama swimming and diving teams, follow AlabamaSwimDive on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can be found at @UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.

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