SEC Weekly Preview: Florida Faces LSU in Rivalry Showdown

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Florida's Maxime Rooney. Photo Courtesy: Donna Nelson

By Dan D’Addona.

The SEC Conference has opened its swimming & diving season, and while some teams have started with a tune-up meet, this week will be the first full week of competition throughout the conference.

The action will span nearly the entire week with meets Wednesday-Saturday in different parts of the country.

One of the biggest meets of the week is on Thursday when Florida swims at rival LSU.

The Florida-LSU rivalry has been huge in football and big in other sports. While it has never been at quite the football level in the pool, it is still one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in the SEC.

The meet starts at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Florida is coming off of a men’s victory against Florida Atlantic to open the season. The women are 3-0 with the most recent victory coming against Florida Gulf Coast.

The Gators have new coaches this year after the retirement of Gregg Troy. Anthony Nesty leads the men’s program, while Jeff Poppell is the women’s head coach.

The Florida men are led by Maxime Rooney and Khader Baqlah.

Last week, Rooney, a returning All-American, brought home first in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly. He clocked a time of 20.57 in the 50-yard freestyle and set a new personal-best time in the 100-yard butterfly, with a swim of 47.87.

Sherridon Dressel, Vanessa Pearl and Mabel Zavaros have led the Florida women.

Meanwhile, LSU is coming off a victorious first meet and has some very talented divers seemingly every year.

On Wednesday, Kentucky and Missouri head to Indiana to face the Hoosiers, along with Notre Dame.

On Friday, Texas A&M heads to Ohio State to face the Buckeyes, along with Louisville. Vanderbilt hosts Campbell and South Carolina hosts NC State.

On Saturday, Missouri swims at Vanderbilt and Georgia swims at Arkansas.