Florida men’s swimming wins first SEC title since 1993; Gators capture eight championships

The No. 2 Florida Gators men’s swimming and diving program entered the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships on Wednesday looking to get over the hump and take home the title for the first time in 20 years. After leading the pack for the final three days of the event, the Gators finally accomplished that feat on Saturday, taking home the 34th SEC Championship in team history and first since 1993.

Florida (1408.0) beat the Auburn Tigers (1196.0) for the title, snapping a 16-year winning streak and reclaiming the pool after finishing second to Auburn for 11-straight years. The No. 11 Gators women (1190.5) were not as lucky, finishing third behind the Georgia Bulldogs (1420.0) and host Texas A&M Aggies (1296.0).

The men’s and women’s teams combined for eight individual SEC Championships (five and three, respectively). Florida also won four individual awards and earned 21 NCAA “A” time automatic qualifying marks.

2013 SEC Awards (4)
» SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy
» SEC Commissioner’s Trophy (High Point Winner, women) – Elizabeth Beisel
» SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year – Natalie Hinds
» SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year – Cassie Weil

2013 SEC Individual Titles (8)
» Men’s 100-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (46.02s) [back-to-back]
» Men’s 200-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (1:42.17)
» Men’s 200-yard breaststroke – Matt Elliott (1:54.13)
» Men’s 200-yard freestyle – Pawel Werner (1:33.82)
» Men’s 800-yard freestyle relay – Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak (6:14.76)
» Women’s 100-yard butterfly – Natalie Hinds (51.70s)
» Women’s 200-yard backstroke – Elizabeth Beisel (1:50.40) [third-straight]
» Women’s 400-yard individual medley – Elizabeth Beisel (3:59.53) [third-straight]

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14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Rather than doubling down on disappointment while stuck playing in the state North Carolina, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (4-1) came from behind on Monday to pick up a huge victory over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1) in Chapel Hill, NC. UNC, which took over for UF as the No. 1 team in the country last week, held a 2-0 advantage over its visitors after winning the doubles point and a singles match to start the contest. The Gators answered by rallying with four consecutive singles match victories to pick up the 4-2 win. First, junior Olivia Janowicz took down No. 79 Tessa Lyons 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Brianna Morgan then picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 122 Lauren McHale, leaving the match in the hands of Florida’s two best players. No. 4 senior Lauren Embree came through in the clutch once again with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, and No. 9 junior Sofie Oyen fought hard on court two to defeat No. 30 Zoe De Bruycker 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. UF’s loss on Sunday at No. 4 Duke was its first in over a year’s time. By taking down the Tar Heels on Monday, the Gators avoided falling in consecutive matches for the first time in three years.

» Former Florida guard Matt Walsh, who signed a deal with Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in August 2012, told OGGOA on Monday that his contract has been purchased by Brose Baskets of Bamberg, Germany. The three-time defending German champions play in the Euroleague and are hoping Walsh helps push them to a fourth-straight title.

» Despite multiple reports pointing to the contrary, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Friday said he has “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin raised concerns about Minnesota’s offense (and how he was not utilized much) prior to the 2012 season and reportedly got into an explosive verbal argument with head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. While it does look like he and the Vikings will split ways, multiple players have come out in his defense and expressed their desire to see him return to the team. The latest to do so is quarterback Christian Ponder, who said he “obviously” wants Harvin to return because “he’s a tremendous player” and “a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general.” Ponder told KFAN in Minneapolis, MN that he and Harvin have a good relationship and “spent some extra time together” working on their on-field chemistry during the last offseason.

Read 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

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Gator Bites for Thursday, September 27

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» In his second contribution to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah discusses helping host a basketball tournament that featured members of different local gangs all playing together “to promote peace and bring some positivity into the neighborhood.” Noah, through his Noah’s Arc Foundation, helps “children develop a stronger sense of self” in order to help fulfill their dreams.

What I witnessed was different gangs, different religions and different kinds of people joining forces to address the problems that affect a community they all share. I felt we accomplished our goal on a micro-level for that one day, and hopefully the effects will stretch far beyond.

» Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal recently sat down for some interviews as he prepares to begin his first NBA season. Beal spoke to a member of the Wizards’ staff about going through his first media day as a professional (Video) and The Wall Street Journal (video below) about being a young man suddenly coming into money as a professional basketball player.

Check out 10 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, September 27

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FOUR Olympic BITS: Lochte, Wambach, band

1 » Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte said he was disappointed in his performance at the 2012 London Olympics, but it appears as if he will use that as motivation going forward after saying Sunday that he plans to not only compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics but participate in more events as well. “I’m probably going to swim more events in 2016, and I’m going to swim as long as I’m having fun,” he said. Lochte plans to concentrate on shorter events but will keep swimming the 400 Meter Individual medley, an event he says he has not lost in three years. “I told my coach, ‘I’ll stop swimming that event when someone beats me,” he said. Lochte will prepare for 2016 outside of Gainesville, FL as he will now be training on the West Coast. He did say, however, that he will visit from time-to-time to work with Florida head coach Gregg Troy and strength and conditioning coordinator Matt DeLancey.

2 » Already 32 years old, U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach also told the Associated Press over the weekend that she has designs on remaining with the team the 2016 Olympics despite the fact that she’s had a nagging Achilles injury over the last three years. “It’s eased over the last couple of weeks, and I am happy,” she said. “I’ve even been talking about for sure playing through the next Olympics right now if my body can hold up.” Wambach, who entered Monday’s quarterfinals match against Canada with 142 goals in 186 international matches, would almost guarantee herself of matching and surpassing Mia Hamm’s international goal record.

3 » Though Lochte admitted that he was disappointed in his Olympic performance, fans expressing a similar sentiment after having their expectations raised to impossibly high levels have been criticized by some for having those opinions. Taking a different look at Lochte’s successes and failures is Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde, who notes that the effort is what should be praised even if the accomplishments fell short in the eyes of some. “Michael [Phelps] and Ryan are the only guys who have ever done that,” Troy told Forde about the program that the duo took on in London, England. He also notes that Lochte is in a special category with Phelps as two American generalists who “have remained elite across three Olympiads” as each won I.M. medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

4 » The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band completed its Olympic experience one week ago but posted the video below upon their return featuring all 230 band members singing the school’s alma mater at the Tower of London. Check it out:

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SIX BITS: Jenkins, Dunlap, Tebow, Lochte

1 » After weeks of posturing, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and the St. Louis Rams finally came to terms Tuesday evening on a four-year rookie contract that will pay Jenkins $5 million over its duration including $3.1 million guaranteed. As first reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the contract ensures that Jenkins will be in camp on time. He will compete for a starting role immediately and could prove to be the steal of the drat that St. Louis hoped he was when the team selected him No. 39 overall.

2 » Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap has proven that he can be an effective pass rusher when he is on the field; unfortunately nagging injuries have kept him from being as consistent as either he or his team would have liked over the first two years of his career. In a recent conversation with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer indicated that Dunlap could be dominant if he finds a way to become a tougher player. “He doesn’t know how to fight through nagging things yet,” Zimmer said of Dunlap. “In this game, you can’t be a track guy. You’ve got to be a football player. Because you’re going to have bruises and bumps and be sore, so you’ve got to fight through it. That’s a little bit of immaturity and growing up. Usually they say with defensive linemen it takes about three years before they really kind of figure it out. So this is his third year, and I’m hoping he can live up to my expectations.”

3 » The ways in which the New York Jets plan to use quarterback Tim Tebow seemingly increase by the day, which is why it should probably come as no surprise that the team is now considering using him on its kickoff coverage team. According to the New York Daily News, Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff thinks there may be a benefit to throwing a quarterback on the field for one of the roughest plays in all of sports. “There are certain situations [on kickoffs] where he might be on the field that he could be utilized possibly to block or possibly to field a ball,” Westhoff told the paper. “If a team squibs it at you or pops it at you, he might be the perfect guy to put in that could make an adjustment. If they kick it deep, he could block. If they squib it or pop it, he could be a guy that we’d have with a ball in his hands.” He went on to clarify that stance. “His role with me won’t be a paramount role,” Westhoff added. “I’m not counting on Tebow coming in and being a hardcore special teams player. That’s not what we want. We have a limited role for him, but it will be one that presents problems. That’s what Tebow is all about. He presents problems to good football teams in a lot of aspects. You have to be aware of it. If you’re not aware of it, it could jump up and smack you.”

Read three more BITS on Lochte, Florida/Georgetown and Taylor…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Jenkins, Dunlap, Tebow, Lochte

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7/2: Gators wrap up 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes and 35 current and former Florida swimmers participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, OR and Omaha, NE over the last two weeks.

In all seven Gators – four track & field athletes, three swimmers – qualified for the 2012 London Olympics after competing in the two events. Joining these current and former student-athletes are Mike Holloway, an assistant coach on Team USA for sprinters and hurdlers, and Gregg Troy, the Americans’ head swimming coach for these Olympic games.

OGGOA will offer comprehensive coverage of the 2012 London Olympics including a dedicated page, numerous widgets and daily updates. Below is the final update for the track & field and swimming team trials, which concluded on Monday.

EVENT RESULTS – JULY 2

Swimming
WOMEN’S 50 METER FREESTYLE
Dara Torres4th – 24.82Did not qualify
» Torres’s Olympic career ends with 12 medals (four golds) over five games.

QUALIFIED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump, Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor – Men’s Triple Jump
Kerron Clement – Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles

Swimming
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke

(Additional relays that McQuay, Clement, Lochte, Dwyer and Beisel may compete in have yet to be determined or announced.)

ELIMINATED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Senior Gray Horn – Men’s Decathalon – finished third, did not qualify
Junior Dwight Barbiasz – Men’s High Jump – advanced to finals
Wes Stockbarger – Men’s Discus Throw – advanced to finals
Senior Jeff Demps – Men’s 100 Meter Dash – advanced to finals
Freshman Marquis Dendy – Men’s Long Jump – advanced to finals
Mason Cathey – Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase – advanced to finals
Calvin Smith – Men’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Ebony Eutsey – Women’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Freshman Dedric Dukes – Men’s 200 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Eddie Lovett – Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles – advanced to semifinals
Junior Jeremy Postin – Men’s Hammer Throw
Sophomore Cory McGee – Women’s 1,500 Meter Run

Swimming
Men: Rex Tullius (finals), Matthew Norton, Mike Joyce, Alex Martin, junior Cameron Martin, junior Jason Taylor, sophomore Connor Signorin, sophomore Bradley deBorde, freshman Matt Elliott (finals), freshman Austin Ringquist, freshman Matthew Curby, freshman Carlos Omana, freshman James Turner, freshman Austin Manganiello, freshman Ricky Munch, freshman Nicholas Caldwell, freshman Colin Hamilton, freshman Billy Silva
Women: Dara Torres (finals), senior Teresa Crippen (finals – 2), junior Jamie Bohunicky, junior Sharla Milne, sophomore Kaitlin Frehling, sophomore Trish Regan, sophomore Alicia Mathieu, sophomore Julia Treible, sophomore Alana Pazevic, freshman Rebecca Rainer, freshman Molly Dubrasky, freshman Jordan Smith, freshman Savannah Napier, freshman Lauren Neidigh,

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Florida’s Ryan Lochte, Gregg Troy featured in Gatorade’s new Win From Within commercial

Gatorade will premiere a brand new television commercial on Friday night as part of their Win From Within campaign featuring former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte and current Florida head swimming coach Gregg Troy.

Troy, who has also been named head men’s swimming coach for the 2012 London Olympics, discusses Lochte’s change of mindset from someone who liked to compete at swimming to an athlete who decided to become a world-class swimmer. Lochte is set to be one of the faces of the 2012 Olympics for the United States.

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FOUR BITS: Bond, Manuel, Dwyer, swimming

1 » Florida Gators guard Jaterra Bonds, who is second on the women’s basketball team in points this year, was named to the 2011 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team on Tuesday. She won the SEC Freshman of the Week award twice this season and scored a career-high 22 points one week ago.

2 » Former Gators safety Marquand Manuel, a sixth-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, completed an eight-year NFL career in 2009 and has been hired as an intern with the football staff, according to the University of Florida. Manuel, who played under former head coach Steve Spurrier from 1998-2001, totaled 308 tackles (nine for loss), six interceptions, 22 passes defended, eight sacks and six fumble recoveries in his college career. He played in both a SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl and was an honor student at UF. In the league, he saw extensive time from 2002-2006 with Cincinnati, Seattle and Green Bay. Manuel caught and returned an interception 32 yards in the 2005 NFC Championship game to help send Seattle to Super Bowl XL, a game in which he started. He also spent a full season as a starter with Green Bay the following season before being released by the team and bouncing around the NFL until deciding to call it quits.

3 » Florida senior swimmer Conor Dwyer has been chosen as the cover athlete for the March 2011 issue of Swimming World Magazine, which is a College Championships Preview issue. Dwyer is the defending NCAA National Men’s Swimmer of the Year and is having yet another fantastic season.

4 » Gators swimming, under head coach Gregg Troy, has announced a significant restructuring of the program due to the 2012 London Olympics. Troy was named head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Swimming Team and, with Florida’s blessing, will need some assistance handling both gigs next season. Below is a portion of UF’s release, which can be read in full here.

The University of Florida men’s and women’s swimming program will undergo an organizational restructuring in preparation of the 2012 Olympic year, head coach Gregg Troy announced Tuesday. Assistant head coaches Martyn Wilby and Anthony Nesty have each been promoted to the title of associate head coach, while assistant coach Steve Jungbluth has been named recruiting coordinator. Assistant coach Leah Martindale-Stancil will retain her duties on deck as well as her role as swim camp director, while Erva Gilliam has been elevated to the director of swimming operations.

“The restructuring of our program will provide us with an opportunity on deck to really focus in on the first-hand development of premier performances by our swimmers,” Troy said. “With the number of current and post-graduate swimmers here on our campus that are training towards the 2012 London Olympics, the delegation of administrative duties will allow us more time on deck to really work hand-in-hand with the training of each of our student-athletes, allowing them to compete for SEC, NCAA and Olympic Championships.”

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