By Will Pantages
Photo by Tim Casey
IOWA CITY, IA – The University of Florida men’s swimming & diving team tallied one national title, set four school records and ended the NCAA Championships in fifth place with 248 team points. The meet was held in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium in Iowa City, Iowa.
Since head coach Gregg Troy took over the men’s team before the 1999-2000 season, the Gators have scored a top-10 finish every year at the NCAA meet. This season, Texas won the team title with 528 points, followed by California (399), Michigan (312), USC (270) and UF (248) round out the top-five in the standings.
Florida had 15 individuals earn 40 All-American honors and sent their senior class out in style.
The 10-man class of Matt Curby, Matt Elliott, Colin Hamilton, Christian Homer, Ricky Munch, Carlos Omana, Billy Silva, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Thomas Veale and Dan Wallace leaves Florida with 47 All-American Honors, including 14 this week.
For the week, UF was led by freshman Caeleb Dressel as he became the first Gator to EVER win a 50-yard freestyle (18.67) NCAA Championship, which he achieved on day one of the competition. Overall, the Green Cove Springs, Fla. product garnered seven All-American accolades that included three as an individual ((50 Free, 100 Free*, 100 Fly*) and four as a member on UF’s relays (200 FR*, 400 FR*, 200 MR, 400 MR).
Dressel is the first freshman to earn seven tributes since Shaune Fraser in 2007 (200 IM*, 200 FR (p)*, 400 MR, 200 free, 800 FR, 200 MR (p)*, 200 fly).
In addition, he became the first Florida freshman to win an NCAA title since Darian Townsend achieved the accolade as a member of the UF’s first place 800-yard freestyle relay team (Ryan Lochte, Brian Hartley, Adam Sioui) in 2005. Dressel is also the first freshman to win an individual crown since Adam Sioui did so in the 200-yard freestyle in 2002.
Wallace and sophomore Mitch D’Arrigo were the other two standouts of the week for UF, as Wallace captured five All-American honors (500 Free, 200 Fly*, 400 IM, 400 FR*, 800 FR) and D’Arrigo grabbed four (200 Free*, 500 Free, 1,650 Free*, 800 FR) for the second consecutive year.
The North Berwick, Scotland native recorded his best race of the week on day one when he finished runner-up in the 500-yard freestyle with a school-record time of 4:10.48. Also, the Rome, Italy product notched his best finish in the same race, as he placed sixth with a time of 4:14.30.
On the boards, Zach Hernandez competed on the third and final day of the meet in the platform dive. He placed 16th in the prelims as he narrowly advanced to the finals following a career-best score of 379.75 points. The redshirt junior’s score qualified him for the consolation finals where he placed eighth with a score of 346.75 to earn honorable mention All-American honors.
Hernandez became UF’s first male diver to compete at the NCAA meet since Mike Lewark in 2012, and the program’s first All-American since Jonathan Wilcox earned the accolade on the one-meter board in 2006.
Florida will return 10 individuals from this NCAA Championship squad next season.
Diving Video of Zach Hernandez: