Florida will set foot inside the natatorium for a meet for the first time in over a year
By Layne Weitzel
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It’s here.
In its final contest of the regular season, No. 10/20 Florida welcomes No. 20/15 Tennessee to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium on Saturday morning.
The Gators were unable to access the facility during an eight-month renovation that transformed the O’Dome into the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. They last competed at their home pool on Jan. 23, 2016 and have endured a tough stretch of 10 consecutive team road meets this season.
As Saturday is its only home regular-season competition of the year, Florida will honor its seven seniors – Jack Blyzinskyj, Mitch D’Arrigo, Alex Dehner, Autumn Finke, Georgia Hohmann, Taylor Katz and Alyssa Yambor-Maul – during the meet.
“I don’t think they (the team) could be any more excited about our first and only home meet and also being our last regular-season competition,” Florida associate head coach Jeff Poppell said Monday. “They’re excited to be in the home pool. It’s been a long season with every meet of ours being on the road.
“But there’s also another special element to this week being that it’s our senior day. We’ve got some outstanding seniors that we’re looking forward to recognizing in front of their family, friends and peers. That also adds an additional level of excitement for everybody on the team. I think it adds a little bit more to the meet in terms of importance and obviously making sure we see those seniors out the right way.”
The Florida men haven’t lost to Tennessee since Feb. 2, 2008 in Knoxville and will look to preserve that eight-meet win streak this weekend. The women will aim to extend their win streak over the Volunteers to three meets. All-time, the Gator women have won 27 of 29 meetings with Tennessee, while the men have edged out the Volunteers 22-20 over the years.
The times for the meet start and senior ceremony have been adjusted due to Tennessee’s post-meet travel schedule. Diving will begin at 8:45 a.m., and the senior ceremony will follow at 10 a.m.
In addition, Florida Swim Network will also air its College SwimDay pre-show at 9:30 a.m. prior to the meet. The show will feature former Gators Natalie Hinds, Jessica Thielmann and Kahlia Warner, as well as David Van Buskirk and Florida football great James Bates. Florida head coach Gregg Troy and Tennessee’s Matt Kredich will also appear on College SwimDay.
Fans can enter the facility at Gate 2, and doors open at 8 a.m. Admission is free. Due to the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center hosting FHSAA Competitive Cheerleading State Championships on Saturday and Sunday, parking may be limited. Fans are also encouraged to wear blue.
ORDER OF EVENTS
3-meter diving (women), 1-meter diving (men)
200 medley relay
1-meter diving (women)
3-meter diving (men)
400 free relay
Presented by Pinch a Penny
- Giveaway: The first 300 fans will receive a blue Florida swimming and diving t-shirt.
- Rowdy Reptile Check-In: Students can check in on the Rowdy Reptiles app from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. for six points. It is also a prize pick-up, so come redeem points for prizes.
- Dance Marathon Check-In: UF DM organizations are invited to attend the game and check in for their organization. The organization with the highest attendance will receive $250 donated on their behalf, and the highest percentage will also receive $250.