Higgins and Crew Post National Top-30 Times at NCAA Last Chance
COLUMBUS, Ohio/ATHENS, Ga. –Kentucky swimming saw multiple career-best performances at a pair of NCAA Last Chance qualifiers, hosted by Ohio State and Georgia. In addition to swimming short course yards, a handful of Wildcats also swam in the long course meters (LCM) portion at Ohio State.
Kendra Crew improved on her Kentucky record-breaking performance from the SEC Championships last week, clocking in at 2:10.31 for a new school standard in the 200 breast. Her time is now good for 30th in the NCAA, and she has also recorded NCAA B cuts in the 100 breast and 200 IM. Swimming alongside Crew was Ann Davies, who recently posted the second-fastest time in the event in school history. Davies swam the second-fastest time of her career at Ohio State, clocking in at 2:13.13.
Kyle Higgins improved to 25th in the nation in the 200 fly, winning the event at the Bulldog Invitational at Georgia. He swam the second-fastest time of his career and the fastest of the season, touching in at 1:43.65, less than .3 seconds off his personal best.
Also competing in the SCY time trials were Kayla Churman, Kristen Keifer, Kelly Berger and Meredith Whisenhunt. Churman clocked the eighth-fastest time in school history in the 100 back, finishing fifth in 55.26 seconds while Keifer recorded a 56.27. Kelly Berger swam in the 500 free as the lone competitor in the event, finishing in 4:48.12. Meredith Whisenhunt rounded things out with a 55.48 in the 100 fly, a career best by more than two seconds.
Kentucky recorded five new Olympic Trials cuts in the LCM portion of the schedule, which gave Kentucky 25 Wildcats who have recorded a standard in at least one event. The benchmark of 25 qualifiers has been a standard for Kentucky this year, to which head coach Lars Jorgensen commented, “To have 25 qualifiers for Olympic Trials is a huge improvement from 2012. I think we can qualify a few more as well. We look forward to Omaha in June.”
Though not an American qualifier, Zimbabwe native Sean Gunn competed in the 100 free and posted a personal record of 50.91 seconds. His time not only easily falls under his national standard, but now stands as the new national record for Zimbabwe.
Joining Gunn on the men’s side and recording Olympic Trials cuts were freshmen David Dingess and Josh Swart. Dingess clocked in at 54.18 seconds in the 100 fly, the fastest of the season by a Wildcat, to earn his spot at the Olympic Trials. Swart punched his ticket to Omaha in the 100 back, finishing in 56.98 seconds for a time that is just six hundredths of a second off the Kentucky LCM record set by Shane Eliason in 2008. Rookie Cobe Garcia narrowly missed out on a cut in the 50 free, as his time of 23.33 seconds was just four hundredths of a second off a qualifying time. Walker Thaning rounded out the men, finishing the 100 back in 57.52 seconds.
On the women’s side, Whisenhunt swam in both the 100 and 200 fly, missing out on a trials cut in the 100 fly in 1:03.73 but notched a cut in the 200 fly in 2:14.34. Two Wildcats qualified in the 200 back, with Churman leading the way in 2:16.38 while Keifer was right behind in 2:16.40. The final trails cut came by way of Berger in the 800 free, clocking in at 8:48.46. Also competing were Morgan Belli and Crew in the 200 IM, paced by Belli in 2:21.81 while Crew clocked a 2:22.10. Davies also swam in the 100 breast, just missing out on a cut in 1:12.30.
The Wildcats will await the announcement of the invitees to the 2016 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, which will be held March 17-19 for the women and March 24-26 for the men. The diving squad will vie for spots at the national championship based on their performances at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships on March 10-12.
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