The Auburn men are tied with Tennessee for first place through the first day with 106 points each. LSU and Georgia are tied for third at 73 apiece. Auburn’s women are in second place with 101 points, just behind Tennessee, who leads with 118. LSU is third with 74 points and Georgia is in fourth place with 72.
"Amazing start for us tonight," Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. "The divers really set it up for us. We came in with confidence, knowing we were going to be ahead after diving. The relays really did their job; we had some amazing splits."
Dantin earned her second career SEC title, setting new records for both Auburn and Tennessee’s facility with a score of 332.40. She led from start to finish, never trailing at the end of any round in either prelims or finals. It was Auburn’s third SEC women’s diving title under head diving coach Jeff Shaffer and the second by Dantin. It was also the first 1-meter title by an Auburn women’s diver since 1990.
"This meet is one of my favorites of the whole year, and to be able to do this for myself and for the team is great," Dantin said. "It’s not just an individual event at this meet; it’s the whole team. That’s what I am the most excited for, and since this was the first event I hope it gets all of the swimmers pumped up and the rest of the divers really going."
Auburn also advanced two divers to the men’s 3-meter finals. Sophomore John Santeiu barely missed the medal stand, earning a fourth-place finish with a season-best score of 386.80. Freshman Fraser McKean took 8th place, scoring a 334.45.
"What a great way to get the championship meet started," Auburn head diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "Vennie came back after a somewhat-missed fifth dive to finish strong and take the title. She showed so much leadership, leading by example. It was an equally strong performance for Anna, improving from her prelims score."
The men’s 200 medley relay team got their meet off to a fast start, winning the event for the sixth time in the last seven years. The team of Kyle Owens, Stuart Ferguson, Marcelo Chierighini and Karl Krug posted an NCAA ‘A’ cut time of 1:24.38 to beat Georgia by nearly two seconds. Krug recorded a freestyle split of 18.85 to pull away from the Bulldog team two lanes over.
Auburn closed out the night with a thrilling victory in the men’s 800 freestyle relay, only the second time in the last 12 years for the Tigers to win the event. The team of Kyle Owens, James Disney-May, Allen Browning and Zane Grothe posted an NCAA ‘A’ cut time of 6:20.63 to out-touch Florida’s team by .23 seconds and earn the win.
"We've just been working really hard on it all year," Owens said. "Auburn is notorious for not having that strong of an 800 free relay, and this group decided that was going to change this year. And it has."
Grothe started on the final leg with a lead of less than a tenth of a second, but saw that lead evaporate after 150 yards. At the turn for the final 25 yards, Florida’s anchor swimmer appeared to have a head-and-shoulders lead. But Grothe found an extra gear in the last five yards and overtook his Gator counterpart for a huge win.
"I’m so proud of the fight we showed in the 800 free relay," Hawke said. "It just speaks to the character of this team and how much they want it."
The women’s 200 medley relay team earned a runner-up finish with an NCAA ‘A’ cut time of 1:36.47 from Emily Bos, Lauren Norberg, Olivia Scott and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace. Vanderpool-Wallace made some history with her freestyle leg; her split of 20.80 seconds was the fastest 50-yard split ever posted by a women’s swimmer at any level.
"Arianna is the first female in history to split 20, that’s huge," Hawke said. "She blazed past 21 (seconds); that was awesome. It’s just a matter of getting into the meet for these girls; we started well."
Auburn’s women took fourth place in the 800 freestyle relay as Katie Gardocki, Becca Jones, Megan Fonteno and Scott posted a time of 7:06.47.
"The team did great today," Lady Vol head coach Matt Kredich said. "The divers got us off to a phenomenal start. Those three (Tori Lamp, Gabrielle Trudeau and Jodie McGroarty) were just absolutely tough. They all got better in the finals and that really set the stage for the 200y medley relay."
In the 200y medley relay, the quartet of senior Jenny Connolly, juniors Kelsey Floyd and Caroline Simmons and freshman Molly Hannis got the squad off to a tremendous start in the pool.
The foursome set SEC, UT and Allan Jones Aquatic Center records in the event. Their readout of 1:35.33 is also the fastest in the NCAA this season and an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
"That was a great relay with four great legs," Kredich said. "When you set an SEC record that is a pretty good relay. So that was really exciting."
Connolly set the tone by swimming the fastest lead leg of the event, and the Lady Vols were never caught.
"We knew that we could win this relay," Floyd said. "We just really wanted to do this for the team. This is our home pool. No one beats us in the medley relay in our home pool."
All three Lady Vol divers competed in the 1-meter finals, as senior Gabrielle Trudeau, redshirt junior Jodie McGroarty and redshirt sophomore Tori Lamp all finished in the top eight in prelims.
Lamp had the highest finish of the group, notching runner-up with a career-best score of 326.35. The tally is the second best in Lady Vol history, only behind Jaime Sanger.
"To get all three in the finals really helps our team," Tennessee head coach Dave Parrington said. "I’m always looking to win the event, but by having three in there we got big points as all three were in the top five. Tori really showed her competitive skills all day today, particularly in the finals. She is a real gamer and I’m real proud of her."
Trudeau’s tally of 315.10 was also a career best and placed her fourth. McGroarty was one spot behind in fifth after accumulating a six-round score of 311.05, another career best.
"Gaby was steady all day long," Parrington said. "Jodie also did a great job as well and I couldn’t be more proud of the competitiveness tonight. For each one of them scoring their career highs was a great way to get the meet started."
During the prelims, Lamp recorded a score of 311.60 to notch second; Trudeau claimed fourth after a mark of 303.40 and McGroarty’s tally of 290.30 was good for sixth.
The Orange and White closed out the meet by almost setting another Tennessee record in the 800y free relay. The quartet of sophomores Alexandria Frasier, Lindsay Gendron and Kate McNeilis and Floyd put forth a third-place time of 7:03.63.
That clocking was a full 19 seconds better than the previous season best, an NCAA "B" cut and just .19 seconds shy from being a Lady Vol record.
The first night of the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships was all about the relays, as both the men and women took to the pool for the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relay races Wednesday night at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, and collected four pieces of hardware on the night. Both squads brought home a bronze medal in the 200 medley relay, and a set of silvers after thrilling finishes in the 800 freestyle relay.
Following the first night of competition, both Gator squads are in sixth place with the women owning 66 points, and the men 67. With 118 points, the Lady Vols have claimed the top-spot, while there is a tie on the men’s side as Auburn and Tennessee have 106 points a piece heading into Thursday’s competition.
"I’m really pleased with how everyone came out and performed tonight," remarked head coachGregg Troy. "I told you that we would see good, hard, honest efforts from our kids and we ended up seeing just that. We’re working on the team score, which will come, but on the same token our individual times, which we saw in the women’s 800 freestyle relay."
It was a nail-biting, nerve-wrecking race that closed out the first night of competition for anyone in the stands, no matter your colors, but especially those in varying shades of orange and blue as Florida and Auburn raced head-to-head until the Tigers touched the wall two tenths of a second ahead (6:20.63) of the Gators who stopped the clock at 6:20.86 (NCAA B), for the first and second fastest times in the country, respectively.
Sophomore Marcin Cieslak (Warsaw, Poland) readied the Gators from the get-go with a personal-best 200 free performance and lead-off split of 1:34.79 – the third fastest 200 free in the nation. The sophomore was followed by teammatesConnor Signorin (East Windsor, N.J), Nicholas Caldwell (Sarasota, Fla.) andEduardo Solaeche-Gomez (Madrid, Spain). Following a constant battle for first, one that had Auburn just .5 seconds leading into the final leg, freshman Solaeche-Gomez anchored the Gators with a 1:34.30 split. Despite his efforts, it simply wasn’t enough to capture the win.
"Unfortunately, we didn’t finish first, but with our relays not in the best spot heading into this weekend I am pleased with what we got," said Troy. "We have a young team, but we try not to let that get in the way. I think Eduardo, Marcin…all of them showed us that tonight – they all swam hard and pushed into the wall. We gave them a run for their money on that one."
Another group of underclassmen took to the water in earlier in the day as freshmen Christian Homer (Trinidad & Tobago) and Matt Elliott (Peoria, Ill.), as well as sophomores Cieslak and Brad deBorde (Longwood, Fla.) touched in a NCAA ‘B’ provisional mark of 1:26.28 for a third-place effort and bronze medal. It was with the help of Cieslak and deBorde that solidified the Gators’ place on the podium, as they were in sixth place after the first half of the race, entering the butterfly stroke. Cieslak contributed a 20.83 split, while deBorde closed with a solid 18.74 effort to secure the hardware.
The women opened the night with a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay after the group of three sophomores –Elizabeth Beisel (North Kingstown, R.I.), Hilda Luthersdottir (Hafnarfjordur, Iceland) andEllese Zalewski (Melbourne, Australia), as well as senior Sarah Bateman(Orlando, Fla.) stopped the clock in a NCAA ‘B’ 1:37.29, which stands as the fifth quickest time in Gator history. Bateman’s 21.60 anchor gave the Gators the extra boost they needed to finish ahead of fourth-place Georgia (1:37.62).
It was another battle between the Bulldogs and Gators when JuniorJamie Bohunicky (Gainesville, Fla.) kick-started the 800-freestyle relay team that finished in 7:00.32, now holds the second fastest time in the country, behind first-place finisher Georgia (6:59.42), third quickest finish in Florida’s record book and an automatic ticket to the NCAA meet in Auburn, Ala., come mid-March.
With the efforts of Beisel andTeresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.), the Gators pushed ahead and into the first-place spot heading into the last leg. FreshmanNatasha Fung (Edmonton, Canada) gave her all for the Gators in the final 200 split, but wasn’t able to hold on and secure the lead as she slipped behind the Bulldogs - reigning SEC champions, and nation’s fastest 800 freestyle relay group heading into the conference championships.
"The girls came in and accomplished one part of the meet that we had talked about – qualifying for the NCAA meet in March. When you do that, and put in the second fastest time in the country behind the nation’s leader – it’s really not that bad," explained Troy. "Would you love to win? Of course, but NCAA is our ultimate goal, and they made it there with their time."
On the boards, sophomore Mike Lewark (Davie, Fla.) finished 16th diving three-meters from the water with a mark of 326.60, while redshirt sophomoreChris Jones (Palm City, Fla.) finished 20th with a score of 310.50.
Senior Kayle Doback (Lake Brantley, Fla.), the women’s lone diver at SECs finished 19th in one-meter competition with a score of 234.40.
The Alabama swimming and diving teams got off to a fast start at the Southeastern Conference Championships being held at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center on the University of Tennessee campus this week.
"Every swim we’ve had so far has been a lifetime best," UA head coach Eric McIlquham said. "Put that together with a school record on day one and we’re definitely ready to go. We just need to come in tomorrow morning and get after it from start to finish."
The Crimson Tide women earned a new school record in the 200 medley relay. Sophomore Stephanie Kinsey, freshman Kaylin Burchell along with sophomore Kristel Vourna and Alex Popa combined to post a 1:38.68, bettering the old mark, set in 2009, by more than half a second. Burchell posted the second fastest breaststroke split of the night and Alabama took fifth overall.
"Any time you can break a school record it’s a very good thing," McIlquham said. "It was an awesome swim, with everyone looking sharp right out of the gate."
Earlier in the night sophomore diver Paige McCleary scored a 301.35 to take seventh place in the championship final of the 1-meter board. It marked the second year in a row that McCleary, the 2011 SEC Female Diver of the Year, has finished in the top eight off the 1-meter.
"Paige did a great job off the 1-meter again this year," McIlquham said. "She closed out her list strong to get into finals and then to move up to seventh in finals."
Sophomore Anna Rae Gwarjanski, senior Suzanne Schwee, junior Jenna Gallo and senior Shelby Hixon posted a 7:26.53 to take ninth in the 800 freestyle relay. Gwarjanski led the relay off in a time of 1:48.66, which ranks her fourth all-time for the Tide in the 200 freestyle.
Junior Reese Shirey along with sophomores Devan Terry, Alex Coci and Vlad Caciuc took seventh in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:28.25. Alabama’s 800 freestyle relay’s fourth place finish was wiped out by disqualification after a bad exchange.
Freshman diver Jordan Lesser led the Tide men off the 3-meter board, scoring 318.90 points to take 17th place, one spot out of scoring team points.
Both the LSU men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are off to an impressive third place start after the first day of competition at the SEC Championships hosted at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn.
The men have 73 points under their belt and sit tied in third place with Georgia and trail first place Auburn and Tennessee. The women have a slight edge in third with 74 points and are behind only Tennessee and Auburn.
The first day of competition witnessed the 200 medley relays, 800 freestyle relays, men’s three-meter dive and the women’s one-meter dive. Tomorrows events will start the individual swims.
"We certainly have some expectations for the individual part of the competition," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "We’ll wake up in the morning and be ready to go."
The men’s 200 medley relay led off by freshman Michael Young followed by juniors Andrei Tuomola and Martin Jungfleisch and sophomore Michael Saco set the tone for LSU in the day’s first final. The Tigers notched a season best 1:26.73 to earn a NCAA ‘B’ Cut.
The men’s 800 freestyle relay was even more impressive behind gutsy swims by freshmen Frank Greeff and Dillon Love, as well as juniors Craig Hamilton and Nick Kunkel. The season low time of 6:28.85 earned a NCAA ‘B’ Cut and missed the school record by .02 seconds.
"Really both the freestyle relays on the men’s and the women’s side were really good," Geyer said. "On the men’s side to have Frank Greeff lead off in his first SEC race, he threw out a lifetime best split, was fantastic. Another freshman in Dillon Love had an exceptional swim as well. It was terrific for those guys to take on the pressure like an amateur in the meet and really thrive."
The women’s 200 medley relay behind junior Rainey White, sophomore Torrey Bussey, junior Amanda Kendall and senior Samantha Goates notched a mark of 1:38.68 in a sixth place finish. The 800 free relay consisted of Kendall, juniors Sara Haley, Sally Wood and White cranked out a time of 7:13.24 in a sixth place finish. Both marks punched out NCAA ‘B’ Cuts.
Freshman diver Alex Bettridge posted a lifetime best score on the one-meter with a score of 302.60 in a sixth place finish in her post-season debut. That score places Bettridge in sole possession of sixth place in program history in the one-meter.
Fellow diver Elle Schmidt earned her highest one-meter post-season score and highest finish (10th) in her three-year career with a mark of 269.25.
"Alex performance today was phenomenal," Coach Doug Shaffer said. "She competed with the SEC’s elite. She was the only freshman in the women’s one-meter final. She put up a personal best score. This will definitely give her confidence moving forward into the three-meter and platform."
On the men’s three-meter springboard, sophomore Sean McKinney out scored his Tiger teammates with a total of 337.50 in an 11th place finish. He was followed in 12th and 13th by sophomore Daniel Helm and senior Matt Vieke respectively.
"Sean really rose and competed really well," Shaffer said. "He had one dive that narrowly missed. He was our most solid performer. It was realistic for us to have two or three divers in the finals in the three-meter event, but we did not perform at that level today."
The University of Arkansas swimming and diving team sits in 7th place after a solid day one of the SEC Championships at the Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn. Arkansas has 59 points, just 15 out of third place, while the host Volunteers are in the lead with 118.
On a short first day that included one-meter diving, the 200 medley relay, and the 800 freestyle relay, Arkansas had scoring athletes or relay teams in all three events.
"Our first swims are under our belt," said Arkansas head coach Jeff Poppell. "We’ve got to come in tomorrow, with the first individual swims of the meet, and get as many second swims and finals as possible."
The first swimming event of the meet, the 200 medley relay, saw the Arkansas team of sophomore Liz Braun, freshman Nikki Daniels, senior Katie Whitbeck and freshman Susanna White score and place eighth with a time of 1:42.18. That marked the Razorbacks’ fastest time in the event this season, and the fourth-best in school history.
"This is the fastest conference in the country," Poppell said of the competition that includes three top-five teams in the country. "It’s really important that we don’t get overwhelmed by that and we continue to focus on what we need to do. If we focus on ourselves, we’ll do really well."
Sophomore Nicole Menzel swam her best 200 yard leadoff split of the year in the 800 freestyle relay, in 1:48.60. Menzel led teammates, junior Sigrun Sverrisdottir, senior Alison Templin and junior Chelsea Franklin to a 7:21.27 finish, the team’s second-fastest time in the event this season.
In the preliminary session of one-meter diving, both junior Kesha Naylor and senior Liana Bugslag were in contention, but were narrowly denied top-eight finishes and a chance to compete in the finals. Naylor finished ninth with 269.75 points, and Bugslag placed 11th, with 267.90. Naylor had a spot in the top eight and the evening finals session until the very last diver of the preliminary rounds pushed her into ninth place and out of the finals.
"We’ve got two-thirds of the team that hasn’t even touched the water yet," Poppell said. "For most of our team tomorrow will be the first swimming event."