Galyer Wins SEC Title as UK Posts Best Finish Since 2007
AUBURN, Ala. - For the second consecutive day, the Kentucky swimming and diving team won a Southeastern Conference title, thanks to sophomore Danielle Galyer in the 200 backstroke Saturday to highlight the final day of the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Auburn, Ala.
The Wildcats won their first SEC title since 2007 on Friday and 24 hours later, Galyer notched UK's second gold medal in as many days. The Greenville, S.C., native posted a school-record 1:50.95 in the 200 backstroke, UK's 10th program-record time at the five-day championships.
"I didn't know what to expect, I just wanted to make the A final, and then after prelims, I just wanted to medal," Galyer said. "When you're swimming a final, your training really comes into effect. It's a blank state in your mind, you have to let your training take you through the race."
Friday's title came courtesy of senior Christina Bechtel, who won the 200 butterfly, also with a school-record time. Before Friday, Kentucky's last swimming SEC title came in 2006 and its last female swimming championship was in 1999. Galyer became the 14th Wildcat to win an SEC title and the first to win a gold medal in the backstroke.
Galyer used a strong second 100 meters to secure the win. She trailed by 0.15 seconds after 50 meters, but jumped ahead by 0.07 seconds halfway through the race and extended the advantage to 0.71 seconds with 50 meters to go. A 28.22 in the final 50 meters was enough to secure a 1:50.95, breaking her own school record by 1.64 seconds. Galyer touched the wall in first to win by 0.73 seconds.
"Danielle swam a great race today, we are so proud of her," UK head coach Lars Jorgensen said. "She's worked hard and has improved so much. She swam smart today. She works so hard consistently and has developed nicely. She has a bright future ahead of her."
Along with Galyer's win, the final day of the SEC Championships was highlighted by two school-records by sophomore Drew Aviotti and a total of four top-nine individual finishes.
The Kentucky women finished seventh in the final team standings with 614 points, the Wildcats' best finish at the conference championships since 2011, when they also placed seventh. The women beat five teams at the annual event for the first time since 2008. Georgia claimed first for the sixth consecutive season.
The UK men placed 10th overall with 407 points. Florida claimed their third conference title in a row.
In total, 10 school records were set in five days at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center. Galyer and Bechtel, who also won a silver medal in the 100 butterfly, were joined on the podium by sophomore diver Rebecca Hamperian, who won silver on 1-meter.
"To win SEC titles on back-to-back days was phenomenal," Jorgensen said. "It was a great week for us. We still have a ways to go to where we want to be, but we've made a lot of progress, both on the swimming and diving side. We competed really hard and look forward to NCAAs, where we'll continue to make the program better."
Aviotti broke the UK record in the 1,650 with a time of 15:00.35 and finished ninth overall. The sophomore broke the mark that was set in 1997 while also registering a 9:03.30 to break the 1,000 freestyle record.
Freshman diver Levi Lindsey just missed out on a spot on the podium with a fourth-place finish on platform. Lindsey scored a career-best 403.30 in his first-ever SEC finals appearance.
Also in the top 24 in the 1,650, sophomore Brandon Flynn finished 17th with a 15:22.47, while freshman Jack Gunning recorded a 15:25.75, the seventh-fastest time in UK history, to finish 18th. Sophomore Jamie Stevenson placed 23rd with a 15:32.84, the ninth-fastest time in program history.
Along with Galyer, UK was joined by freshman Bridgette Alexander in the A final of the 200 backstroke. After recording a 1:53.41 in the prelims, the second-fastest time in school history, Alexander notched a 1:54.26 in the finals to finish seventh overall.
Sophomore Kendal Casey recorded a 15th-place finish in the women's 1,650 freestyle with a time of 16:27.68. Fellow sophomore Kelly Berger was 20th in 16:37.47, while freshman Aubrey Jones posted the seventh-fastest time in UK history with a 16:41.84 to place 23rd.
Senior Michael Christian tallied the second-fastest time in school history in the 200 backstroke prelims, and bested it by 0.34 seconds with a time of 1:44.27 in the C final. Christian finished second in his final and 18th overall.
Freshman Ann Davies advanced to the C final in the 200 breaststroke and placed eight in the final and 24th overall with a 2:15.90. She advanced to the finals with a 2:14.84 in the prelims, the fourth-fastest time in team history.
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