One thing is for sure: in the modern era the pride in UF athletics has expanded to capture a broad spectrum of men’s and women’s sports. Championship after championship, the University of Florida is counted as one of the dominate “All Sports” programs in the NCAA. Clearly, being a Gator means being great. This summer, with an SEC record-breaking combined total of 30 Gator Greats (Alumni) and current Gator Athletes in Rio at the Olympics Games, UF continues to prove that it really is “Great to be a Florida Gator” to the entire world.
So what do the Olympics look like in Orange and Blue? Here’s a glimpse:
UF is known for producing world class swimmers. Caeleb Dressel is one of those. Being the number 3 recruit in the state of Florida when UF picked him up, nobody is really surprised that Team USA also caught onto this 19 year old’s greatness. During the 2016 season, Dressel became an NCAA Champion in the 50 Free and the 100 Free. His season performance was so significant he was named 2016 NCAA Co-Swimmer of the Year. Caeleb got to add another big title to his list on August 7th: that’s right, Gold Medalist. Alongside arguably the best swimmer in history, Michael Phelps, Dressel contributed to Team USA’s Gold Medal in the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay. Caeleb isn’t the only Gator seeing his first Olympics. Fellow swimmers, Mitch D’Arrigo (ITA), Corey Main (NZ), Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez (ESP), Jan Switkowski (POL), Rex Tullius (Virgin Islands), Dan Wallace (UK) and Pawel Werner (POL) are also hitting the Olympic pool for the first time.
However, while the Gators history in swimming is well known, the list of first time Gator Olympians is across many sports. In the sport of Indoor Volleyball, Aury Cruz will represent her home country of Puerto Rico as well as Kelley Murphy, representing the USA, both in their first Olympics and both are the first Gators to participate in Olympic Indoor Volleyball. The Rio Games made history by bringing back Golf as an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904. And you better believe the Gators are in on the debut action. Gator Golfer, Sandra Gal will be competing in her first Games for Germany in this iconic year for the Golf world.
Gators are also fast and if you were to head over to the track in Rio, you’d see another handful of Gators making their countries proud. Gator Track and Field Stars, Andres Arroyo (PR), Arman Hall (USA), Eddie Lovett (Virgin Islands) and Stipe Zunic (CRO) are some proud Gators excited to experience the Olympics also for the first time.
Even more impressive, if all 15 of the first time Olympians do compete, that will bring UF to a remarkable total of 178 Gators to ever compete in an Olympics.
All and all, UF Athletes will represent a total of 16 different countries in four different sports. 2 Gators are making their fourth Olympic appearance, 5 Gators are on their third trip to the Games and 8 Gators are previous medal winners including veteran Olympian swimmers Ryan Lochte, Elizabeth Beisel and Connor Dwyer who are looking to add to their medal counts for Team USA, making their country and University extremely proud.
But there is no doubt: no matter what country a Gator Olympian represents, Gator Nation is filled with immense pride.
As UF likes to say, “Gator Nation is everywhere.” And that includes Rio this summer.
Get pumped, Gators.
Right over left, arms locked at the elbows… get ready to Chomp. Gator Nation is strong, Gator Nation is fast, Gator Nation is going for Gold.
See you at the Podium.
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Lead Image Credits: Florida Gators Olympics Facebook