Florida sophomore Caeleb Dressel is coming off a strong summer in which he became the second-fastest American this year in the long course 50 freestyle. The train kept rolling in his first meet of the new collegiate season with strong times on day one of the All-Florida Invite.
The meet features the University of Florida as hosts, with Florida State, Miami, Nova Southeastern, Florida Gulf Coast and Towson. Florida Gulf Coast prevented Florida from winning all 10 events tonight with a win in the women’s 400 medley relay.
Dressel gave Florida a big win in the 200 free relay, splitting a 19.27 on the third leg to help the Gators post a 1:19.61. Enzo Martinez (20.80), Corey Main (19.63) and Jack Blyzinskyj (19.91) were the other three on the relay. The Gators were the only team to have swimmers go under 20 seconds in the race.
Dressel was back for the 200 IM, an event rarely swims. But he showed that he is a clutch performer, winning with a 1:47.87. The highlight of his swim was, naturally, the freestyle leg, where he split 24.61. That was the key to winning the race, as he was four tenths of a second behind teammate Mark Szaranek after the breaststroke leg. Szaranek finished in 1:48.36 as the two Gators were the only ones under 1:50.
Dressel, the reigning NCAA champion in the 50 free, was the odds-on favorite to win the splash-and-dash tonight, especially after posting a 19.80 in prelims. But the heavy racing schedule likely got the better of him, as Main out-touched Dressel for the win, 20.18 to 20.42. Jason McCormick of Florida State was right behind with a 20.44.
Dressel rebounded to split 47.75 on the butterfly leg to help Florida dominate the 400 medley relay with a 3:14.83. Blyzinskyj (47.02, backstroke), Szaranek (56.12, breaststroke) and Main (43.94, freestyle) also contributed to the 4.5-second win over Florida State.
The other men’s swimming event of the night was the 500 freestyle, and Florida took the top three spots. Pawel Werner took the win with a 4:24.55, while Mitch D’Arrigo settled for second with a 4:24.75 after leading by more than a second at 400 yards. Arthur Frayler finished comfortably in third with a 4:29.58.
Senior Natalie Hinds won two events in the women’s meet, starting off with a 22.17 on the second leg of the 200 free relay that posted a 1:32.53 for the win. Hinds, a multiple NCAA finalist, returned for a 23.00 to win the 50 freestyle.
Hinds split 53.30 on the butterfly leg of the 400 medley relay, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Florida Gulf Coast, who provided a bit of an upset with a 3:45.74 for the win to Florida’s 3:46.57. Florida Gulf Coast’s relay consisted of Barbara Caraballo (56.95, backstroke), Katie Armitage (1:01.49, breaststroke), Christina Elmgreen (56.59, butterfly) and Katie Latham (50.71, freestyle).
Taylor Katz opened up a big lead at the 150-meter mark to help win the 500 free with a 4:50.91. Macey Arnold gave Towson its top finish of the night, placing second with a 4:54.00. Jessica Thielmann was third in 4:54.95.
Florida went 1-2 in the women’s 200 IM. Ashlee Linn took the win with a 2:02.99, using a strong backstroke leg to pull away from teammate Hannah Burns, who was second with a 2:03.99. Towson’s Charlotte Holz took third in 2:05.26.
Florida piled on the points in diving, as Kahlia Warner led a 1-2-3 finish in the women’s 1-meter with 306.55 points. Florida State’s Tyler Roberge won the men’s 3-meter by a little less than two points with 352.05 over the 350.70 by Florida’s Sam Smith.