Hello Gator Nation! My name is Brad deBorde and I’m incredibly excited about this blog. I am currently a sophomore on the University of Florida Swimming Team, and I must say that I am enjoying every minute of the experience. I compete for the Gators as a sprinter, specializing in the 50m 100m and 200m freestyle and also the 100m butterfly.
As a Gator, I feel very fortunate to be part of one of the premier swimming programs in not only the nation, but in the world. Florida Swimming has produced over 2,300 All-American awards, 125 NCAA titles, 87 Olympians and countless other athletes who have found success at both the national and international levels since the program’s inception. In fact, UF swimmers have won medals at the Olympics since 1968, breaking national and world records along the way.
It’s quite humbling and, at the same time, invigorating to train in a facility that has developed such decorated champions. Due to the historical success and the amount of talent that this program attracts, I can’t imagine going to school or swimming anywhere other than UF.
Another major factor about swimming at the University of Florida is the close bond we have as a team. As I’ve learned over the past two years, the men’s and women’s swim teams are as close as any family. The level to which we support and care about each other is unprecedented. It is made even more extraordinary by the fact that both teams incorporate swimmers from every corner of the globe. This is what makes swimming at UF unique.
The UF swim team is known in the athletic community for how hard we train throughout the year. Outside of all the weight-lifting, running, and of course swim practices, we spend a lot of time together. It could be as simple as having a Mario Kart tournament or laying out in the Florida sunshine with some new music, we all love spending time with each other. Any swimmer will tell you that the swim team consists of their closest and best friends. Personally, I have gained a unique understanding of my teammates and have become familiar with their likes and dislikes, favorite foods, bands, songs, etc. Through all of the blood, sweat, and tears we have come to know each other on a very deep level. I would not trade these relationships for the world.
During home football games, we participate in one of the most well known swimming traditions. Every time Florida scores a touchdown, the male swimmers will form a massive dog pile in the stands. This gets us really pumped up and certainly in the mood for another touchdown celebration, since it’s so much fun for both the celebration participants and those who are watching.
Throughout my two years here, I have come to know that my experience as a UF athlete has been an irreplaceable part of my life and I am just proud to be a part of it. In just my first day here, I realized that I was part of a bigger picture. Not only had I become a swimmer, but I was now a representative for the Gator Nation. I became a part of a tradition of excellence. The way I felt the first day is the way I still feel today. I am so proud to be a member of such a talented group of individuals who all take such pride and honor in competing for the University of Florida.
I am excited about The Gator Grind blog so that I can share some of the insight into daily life of a swimmer at the University of Florida, beyond what is shown on the stat sheet. Be sure to follow our site for more updates!