The Tennessee swimming and diving team was well aware of the daunting task that Florida presented when it came to town for Senior Day at the Allen Jones Aquatic Center on Friday.
Florida beat the Vols 178-122 on the men’s side, which was the first dual meet loss for the Tennessee men since losing to the then-No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers on Oct. 27.
After losing two of their last three meets, the No. 7 Lady Vols rebounded with a dominating victory against the No. 16 Gator women, winning by a score of 184-116.
“Our women should feel really good about this performance,” Matt Kredich said. “We didn’t really show any weaknesses; I thought we were strong across all of our events.”
Erika Brown and Meghan Small led the Lady Vols with two individual victories each.
Brown, a sophomore, won the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.74) and the 100-yard butterfly (52.31). Small won the 200-yard butterfly (1:59.44) and the 200-yard IM (1:59.94).
“We had people rising to the occasion that haven’t necessarily done so yet,” Kredich said. “We had people that have struggled the past few weeks have some outstanding swims.”
The Lady Vols also took first in the 200-yard medley relay to start the meet behind performances of Micah Bohon, Nikol Popov, Erika Brown and Stanzi Moseley.
On the men’s side, junior Kyle DeCoursey boosted the Vols with a win in the 100-yard freestyle (44.05). He was narrowly edged out in the 50-yard freestyle by Olympian Caeleb Dressel.
“Kyle got behind and envisioned himself winning,” Kredich said. “He and Caeleb were right next to each other in the medley relay, and Kyle got him there. That was a big step for Kyle because Caeleb has beat him the last couple years at SECs and NCAAs.”
Kredich says that despite the loss, his men’s team learned things that they can take into the championship meets.
“I thought our competitiveness was uniformly high … we didn’t have quite the presence that I hoped we would have had, but we certainly didn’t give up,” Kredich said.
In the diving well, Tennessee fared well on both the men’s side and the women’s side.
Colin Zeng won the men’s 1-meter event (397.88), and senior Liam Stone edged out Zeng in the 3-meter (387.75 to 387.00).
“That was big for him (Stone),” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “It shows some really good signs for him, he’s kind of looking like himself. I am really pumped about what he did today.”
Junior Rachel Rubadue won the 3-meter event for the Lady Vols, beating Florida sophomore diver Brooke Madden, who swept the springboard events when the two teams met last season.
“She (Rubadue) is a whole lot better diver right now,” Parrington said. “She has completely changed her game. She’s much more dynamic as a diver.”
Now Tennessee will turn its attention to the SEC Championship meet, which will take place Feb. 14-18 in College Station, Texas.
“Our focus is to keep emphasizing the things we have done well. I think we have made a lot of progress this year,” Kredich said. “We want to ride our strengths into the SECs.”