Bobby Finke Swims 14:27 1650 Free as Georgia Tech Invite Concludes

Bobby Finke -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bobby Finke Swims 14:27 1650 Free as Georgia Tech Invite Concludes

After using stunning performances to capture Olympic gold medals in both the 800 and 1500-meter freestyle events this summer, Bobby Finke is back for his senior season at Florida, the fourth year in a college career in which he has stretched the limits of imagination in the 1650 free. Three times in his career, he has swum 14:12 in the 1650, which is six seconds faster than any other human. Finke is not quite back to that form yet, but he did swim the nation’s fastest time in the event to win by 15 seconds at the Georgia Tech Invitational.

Finke swam a 14:27.70 Saturday evening, well ahead of Georgia Tech freshman Mert Kilavuz (14:42.62) and Finke’s own Florida teammate Trey Freeman (14:50.11). Finke is already faster than any other competitor from last year’s NCAA Championships, although this race lost some luster when Georgia sophomore Jake Magahey, last year’s NCAA runnerup and the NCAA champion in the 500 free, was ruled out of the meet with a non-COVID illness.

Elsewhere, Georgia Tech’s Christian Ferraro recorded the nation’s top time in the men’s 200 fly when he swam a 1:40.33 in prelims before he won the event in finals in 1:40.97. Ferraro was a DFS in the event at NCAAs last year, but he has already swum quick enough to be an A-finalist at the national meet. Florida’s Jace Crawford took second (1:43.96), and Georgia Tech’s Antonio Romero placed third (1:45.42).

In the women’s 200 fly, Georgia’s Dakota Luther recorded a comfortable win, her 1:54.16 beating the field by two seconds. Florida’s Amanda Ray was second in 1:56.19, and third went to Georgia Tech’s McKenzie Campbell (1:56.90). In the previous women’s race, Luther’s Bulldogs teammate Zoie Hartman used a furiosu 32.98 final 50 to storm past Florida State’s Nina Kucheran and win the 200 breast. Hartman touched in 2:08.11, compared to Kucheran’s 2:08.57. Georgia’s Danielle Della Torre placed third in 2:09.36.

Auburn’s Reid Mikuta, fresh off an impressive 51.33 100 breast on Friday, added a win in the 200 breast in 1:53.69. Florida’s Dillon Hillis finished second in 1:55.34, just ahead of teammate Kevin Vargas (1:55.46). Auburn also scored a win in the women’s 200 back from Meghan Lee, who posted a 1:54.99 to beat out Georgia’s Millie Sansome (1:55.60) and Florida State’s Pia Murray (1:55.73).

Florida swept the victories in the 100 freestyle races. Talia Bates, who was second in the 200 free at NCAAs last year, won the women’s event in 48.60, narrowly beating out Georgia’s Gabi Fa’Amausili (48.88), while Auburn’s Rebekah Hamilton was third (49.04). Gator Eric Friese won the men’s 100 free in 42.55, while Florida State’s Peter Varjasi placed second in 42.80. Georgia’s Luca Urlando, who missed Thursday’s action before being cleared to swim Friday, picked up his only top-three finish of the meet by placing third in 42.88.

Georgia freshman Abby McCulloh continued her impressive fall with a win in the women’s 1650 free, her time of 15:57.23 beating the field by a significant 17 seconds. Only five swimmers broke 16:00 at last year’s NCAA Championships, so McCulloh could be on her way to making a significant impact on the national level. Florida teammates Elise Bauer (16:14.91) and Leah DeGeorge (16:15.48) placed second and third, respectively.

Florida posted an impressive win in the men’s 400 free relay with Macguire McDuff (43.49), Adam Chaney (42.02) and Gerry Quinn (42.55) combining for a 2:49.82. Georgia placed second in 2:50.89 after Urlando led off in 42.57 and Dillon Downing anchored in 42.10, and Auburn finished third in 2:51.39.

The women’s 400 free relay went to Georgia in a tight finish over Florida and Auburn. The Bulldogs’ team of Fa’Amausili (49.34), Maxine Parker (48.88), Callie Dickinson (48.87) and Hartmann (47.68) won in 3:14.77, while Florida finished in 3:15.03 and Auburn was clocked at 3:15.29.

Florida’s Kieran Smith, who had a relatively quiet weekend after posting four strong swims and two individual victories on Thursday, did not compete on the final day.

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