Gainesville, FL - University of Florida swimmers Gemma Spofforth
(West Sussex, England) and senior Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.) were
named the 2010 recipients of the Ben Hill Griffin Award, announced
Tuesday by the University Athletic Association.
The award, established by Gator Boosters, Inc., and the UAA, recognizes and honors the top male and female student-athletes who excel in both athletic and academic achievement and in extra-curricular involvement. This is the first time since the inception of the honor in 1992 that one sport has won both the men’s and women’s award.
Spofforth joins former Gator swimmer Nicole Haislett (1992-93) and
former volleyball player Angie McGinnis (2006-07) as the only women to
win the women’s award in back-to-back years, while Dwyer becomes the first Gator swimmer to earn the men’s honor since former Gator great and Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte (2004).
Graduating this past December as one three UF students to receive the
UF Alumni Association’s Outstanding Leadership Award for Graduating
Seniors, Spofforth exhausted her eligibility with seven NCAA titles, two
NCAA records, 25 All-America honors, 13 All-SEC honors, 11 SEC
championships, four SEC records and nine school records.
The England native, who is the only swimmer to win the women’s Ben Hill Griffin Award besides Haislett, was named the 2010 SEC Female Swimmer of the Year this past season for the second consecutive year en route to helping the Gators win their first national championship in 28 years. At the NCAA Championships, the 2009 and 2010 CSCAA Academic All-American captured individual national titles in the 100-yard backstroke and as a member of the Gators’ 200-yard freestyle relay squad. With the 100 back title, Spofforth became one of five swimmers in NCAA history to win three straight national titles in the 100 back.
Spofforth not only shined as a Gator on the national stage, but as a
representative of her country. Swimming for Great Britain, she became a
World Champion and World Record Holder after winning the 100-meter back at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome. Already the British record holder in the 100-meter back, she then took the 50 and 200-meter back British records at the 2009 Scottish Nationals (Britain’s World Trials).
Spofforth became the first female Gator to qualify for the 2008 Beijing
Olympics, doing so in the 100 and 200-meter back and went on to record a career-best time and finish fourth in the 100-meter race. She also broke the British Commonwealth and European Records with her 100-yard back split as a member of the fourth-place British 400-meter medley relay team at the 2008 Olympic Games. Recently, Spofforth secured funding from her home country and host of the 2012 Olympics to train for the Games in Gainesville at UF’s pools.
Out of the pool, Spofforth continues to work inside the Gainesville
community to better the lives of those around her. On top of countless
hours spent at the Alachua County Crisis Center taking phone calls and
counseling people in need, she also spearheaded the Student-Athlete
Advisory Committee’s (SAAC) inaugural Golden Gators Award ceremony and worked with Goodwill Gators delivering sneakers to local students through the Gator Tracks program. Spofforth additionally participated in Climb for Cancer Sports Camp, which allows children with cancer the chance to interact with Gator student-athletes.
Dwyer, a current captain on the men’s team, had one of the most
successful individual campaigns in school history this past season. The
senior earned the first seven All-America honors of his career to go
along with individual titles in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle at both
the NCAA Championships and SEC Championships. He became the first Gator to win both the 200 and 500 free races in the same NCAA meet and the first men’s swimmer in the NCAA to do so in nine years. For his efforts, Dwyer was named the 2010 NCAA and SEC Male Swimmer of the Year. Dwyer stands in the top 10 in school history in 14 different events, owning the school record in the 500 free and being a member of the school-record 400 and 800 free-relay squads.
This past summer, the senior made a splash on the national scene,
finishing in the top 10 of three different events at the 2010 Long
Course U.S. Nationals in Irvine, Calif. Dwyer swam personal-best times
in the 100-meter free (50.13, 19th place), 200-meter free (1:47.35,
fifth), 400-meter free (3:51.40, sixth) and 200-meter individual medley
All four times were top 10 in school history, and earned him his
first-ever spot on the U.S. National Team. From July 16-31, Dwyer will
travel with his fellow countrymen to Shanghai, China, where Team USA
will compete against the world in the 14th FINA World Championships.
Next year, from June 25-July 2, Dwyer will take his talents to the 2012
Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., for a chance to swim under current
Florida head coach and U.S. men’s head coach Gregg Troy at the 2012
Dwyer, who joins Lochte and former Olympic silver medalist Greg Burgess as the only swimmers to win the men’s Ben Hill Griffin Award, has continued his record-setting pace this season. Earlier this month, the Illinois native became the first swimmer in SEC history to be named SEC Male Swimmer of the Week four times in the same season. Dwyer currently owns the fastest NCAA times this year in the 1,000 free (9:00.48) and 400 IM (3:45.21), while holding top-five times nationally in the 200 free (1:34.70, fourth) and 200 IM (1:45.52, fourth). Along with three other teammates, Dwyer is additionally part of the country’s fifth-fastest 800 free relay squad this year (6:31.74).
The award is named after Ben Hill Griffin and his family, who have been
long-time, avid supporters and fans of Gator athletics. The selection
committee was comprised of UAA senior administrators, appointed by
athletics director Jeremy Foley. Each coach is allowed one submission.
Spofforth and Dwyer will be presented with their awards at the UF Hall
of Fame Banquet on Fri., April 8. For information about attending the
Hall of Fame Banquet, please call Gator Boosters at (352) 375-4683 ext. 5000.
Ben Hill Griffin Award Winners (Bold Denotes Swimmer)
Chrissy Van Fleet
Track & Field
Track & Field