Alfonso Mestre, Ekaterina Nikonova Double as Florida Sweeps Tennessee

Alfonso Mestre -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Alfonso Mestre, Ekaterina Nikonova Double as Florida Sweeps Tennessee

The men and women of the University of Florida were both victorious Saturday as SEC rival Tennessee traveled to Gainesville. The Gator men were led by Alfonso MestreMacguire McDuff, Josh Liendo and Adam Chaney in a 171.5-to-128.5 victory, while the Florida women dominated 204 to 96.

Mestre led a 1-2-3 finish for Florida in the 1000 freestyle as he clocked 9:04.97, and he added a win in the 500 free (4:21.16). Macduff edged out teammate Jake Mitchell in the 200 free 1:36.61 to 1:36.74. Liendo, off to an impressive start at Florida after winning Commonwealth Games gold for Canada in the 100-meter butterfly this year, won the 50 free in 19.34, taking down Tennessee’s Jordan Crooks (19.58), and Chaney topped the field in the 100 backstroke in 47.50.

Joaquin Gonzalez Pinero touched in 1:46.11 to lead a Florida 1-2-3 in the 200 butterfly, and Julian Smith led yet another Gators sweep in the 200 IM with his 1:46.79. Christopher Donald won 1-meter diving (349.12). McDuff, Liendo, Eric Friese and Alberto Mestre combined to swim a time of 2:52.49 and win the 400 free relay.

The Tennessee men began the day by defeating a Florida team returning Chaney and Friese from last year’s national-title-winning team. Here, the group of Harrison LierzMichael HoulieJordan Crooks and Gui Caribe won the event in 1:25.95. Later on, Jarrel Dillard won the 100 breaststroke in 53.44, and he again finished on top in the 200 breast with a mark of 1:56.31. Caribe edged out McDuff to win the 100 free, 43.00 to 43.03, and Nick Simons won the 200 back (1:44.79). Finally, Crooks went 46.82 to win the 100 fly. Bryden Hattie secured the win in 3-meter diving (396.90).

For Florida’s women in the dominant effort, Ekaterina Nikonova was the star performer as she won the 200 free (1:45.75) and 100 free (49.51) while anchoring a pair of winning relays. Nikonova entered the water for the 200 medley relay almost a half-second down on the Volunteers, but she split 22.17 to lift a team also consisting of Katie MackNina Kucheran and Talia Bates to a win. The Gators finished in 1:39.32, five hundredths ahead of Tennessee. At the end of the meet, Bates, Micayla Cronk, Mack and Nikonova won the 400 free relay in 3:17.70.

Anna Auld opened the day with a 1000 free win (9:45.17), and Amanda Ray led a 1-2-3-4 finish in the 200 fly with her time of 1:57.73. Bates led the way in the 50 free (22.82). Hayden Miller swam a time of 4:45.49 for a 3.5-second win in the 50 free, and Olivia Peoples (100 fly, 53.90) and Zoe Dixon (200 IM, 2:00.05) were also individual winners. Diving wins went to Elettra Neroni on 3-meter (339.98) and Maha Amer on 1-meter (350.55).

Tennessee tried to stay competitive as Josephine Fuller edged out Bates in the 100 back, 53.84 to 53.97 and then won the 200 back (1:55.13), and Mona McSharry swept the 100 breast (1:00.88) and 200 breast (2:15.07). But no other women got into the win column for the Volunteers all day.


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