ORLANDO – Led by its 200-individual medley swimmers, a runner-up finish from senior Allan Gutierrez, and another runner-up from its 200-medley relay team, Florida Southern finished the first day of the Sunshine State Conference Men's Swimming Championships in second place. The Moccasins trail Nova Southeastern by only 14 points, and are just 12 points ahead of third-place Tampa.
Of the four events held on the first day of the conference meet, the 200-IM was Florida Southern's best with four swimmers advancing to the championship finals and two more reaching the consolation finals. That gave Florida Southern six of the point-scoring positions, and no other team had more than two in the championship race. That's where senior Dylan Lake (Los Alamos, N.M.), senior Luis Rojas (Caracas, Venezuela), and sophomore Jesus Marin (Cumana, Venezuela) finished 3-4-5, and redshirt sophomore Alec Wathen (Sunrise, Fla.) finished eighth, with Lake and Marin reaching the NCAA "B" standard for the first time this season. The Mocs also received points from sophomore Evan Coleman (Yarmouth, Maine) and freshman Parker Basting (Gainesville, Fla.) in the consolation in the finals.
The 200-IM was won by Saint Leo junior Pawel Trenda, who set the new meet record in beating defending champion Marco Aldabe of Nova Southeastern by just under one second. Earlier in the day Rojas had defeated Aldabe in the preliminaries.
Gutierrez made his mark in the 50-freestyle where the senior from San Pedro Sula, Honduras was runner-up to Saint Leo junior Matheus Assis, who won the title for the third year in a row. Assis had a winning time of 20.05 seconds, and Gutierrez came in at 20.11 seconds, bettering his previous season's best time by nearly four-tenths of a second. Sophomore Marco Palacios (Madrid, Spain) was eighth in the 50-freestyle.
Florida Southern's second runner-up finish on Thursday night was in the 200-medley relay, where Palacios, freshman Luis Jasso (Monterrey, Mexico), junior Edson Lima (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Gutierrez came in just behind Nova Southeastern. The Moccasins had a time of 1:28.94, which was their best of the season in the 200-medley relay while trailing the Sharks by only 0.39 seconds. Nova's time of 1:28.55 was a new meet record and barely ended Florida Southern's four-year reign in the 200-medley relay.
In the 1,000-freestyle, which was the first event of the meet, the Moccasins were led by junior Raul Garrastazu (Dorado, P.R.), who finished fifth with a time of 9:23.84, while junior Juan Tolosa (Guipuzcoa, Spain) was eighth in 9:32.81. Saint Leo got the win from freshman Daniel Bis in a meet and Sunshine State Conference record time of 9:01.09. Garrastazu and Tolosa were the only two swimmers among the top eight who were not freshmen.
Day two of the championships is Friday with prelims beginning at 10 a.m., and the finals in three individual events and two relay events beginning at 6 p.m.