Swimming and Diving Hits the Road for SEC Opener

Nov. 6, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's and women's swimming and diving teams return to action Thursday, traveling to Gainesville, Fla., to take on the Florida Gators in the Crimson Tide's 2013-14 Southeastern Conference opener.

"For us it's all about closing the gap," UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. "With teams like Florida, it won't be as noticeable as far as the score is concerned, but it's about being competitive, being in the races."

The meet will get underway at 7 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on the Florida Swim Network at www.floridaswimnetworks.com.

"A year ago, we would swim a team like Florida, a national powerhouse, and we wouldn't have been in many races," Pursley said. "They're still a stronger team than we are at this stage ... but, rather than being blown away, we're looking to close that gap."

The 17th ranked Alabama men (1-1, 0-0 SEC) take on a No. 1 Gator men's team (3-0, 2-0 SEC) that is coming off of a victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tide's 25th ranked women's team (2-0, 0-0 SEC) who defeated Florida State in their second dual meet of the season, face a stiff test against third-ranked Florida women (1-2, 1-1 SEC). The Gator women are coming off of a loss to SEC foe Georgia.

On the men's side of the slate, the 200 breaststroke promises to be one of the deepest and more intriguing races of the meet with Florida junior Matt Elliot ranked second in the nation in the event with a time of 1:57.61 while Tide freshman Anton McKee ranks third with a time of 1:57.98. Florida junior Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez ranks fourth in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:58.70 while Alabama freshman Pavel Romanov and Gator junior Dan Wallace also have top 25 times.

Tide sophomore Brian Westlake, who is ranked 17th in the 500 freestyle, could face off three Gators - Wallace, Andrea D'Arrigo, and Sebastien Rousseau - who are also ranked in the top 25 in the 500.

In the women's meet, the Tide's junior captain, Kaylin Burchell will battle Florida senior Hilda Luthersdottir in the breaststroke events were both women are ranked in the top-25 nationally.