Cats to Honor Eight Seniors against Louisville

Jan. 21, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky swimming and diving teams will honor eight seniors Saturday for the Cats’ Senior Day meet against intrastate rival Louisville at the Lancaster Aquatic Center at 2 p.m.

It will be the final home meet for seniors Chip Aplin, Colin Faris, Lisa Faulkner, Lindsey Graessle, Jenna Newsome, Chatham Penrod, Reinhardt Strijdom and Kayla Sergesketter.

Together, the eight have combined to place in the top 20 nationally on six occasions, earn 17 top-16 individual finishes at the Southeastern Conference Championships and five All-America honors.

Aplin, who currently leads the men’s team in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.34 earned Saturday against Alabama, is the anchor for UK’s 200- and 400-free relay teams, which rank seventh and eighth in the SEC, respectively. Aplin had a breakout performance as a junior in his three individual events at the SEC Championships, achieving career-best times in every event he competed in.

“Chip is one of the most talented swimmers I have ever worked with,” UK head coach Gary Conelly said. “He is a big-meet, high-pressure swimmer. When the heat is on, he is the guy to count on.”

Faris leads the Cats in the 100 freestyle and currently has the second-fastest time in the 50 free on the season. Faris also is the leadoff swimmer for UK’s 200- and 400-free relay teams. The Maysville, Ky., native holds the sixth-fastest 50-free time in school history and the eighth-fastest 100-free time.

“Colin is blue to the core,” Conelly said. “He’s a great teammate and he’s always there to help out and give you his best when you need it the most. In his sophomore year, he pretty much got our 200-free relay over the top and into the NCAA Championships. His friendly and positive outward demeanor often fools his competitors into thinking he isn’t focused. When it comes to racing he is incredibly focused and hard to beat.”

Faulkner, a diver who transferred to Kentucky from George Mason as a junior, has led the women’s diving unit in her two years with the Wildcats. She qualified on the three-meter board for the NCAA Championships as a junior, has already qualified for Zone Championships in the one- and three-meter this year as a senior, and leads the Cats in all three boards. Faulkner has finished in the top three in every dual meet during her career at Kentucky.

“Lisa transferred into the program and brought a big lift to our women’s team,” UK diving coach Ted Hautau said. “She is a tireless worker and has improved tremendously. She tallied a lot of wins for the program and made NCAAs. This year she has worked hard to improve her technique. I expect a good day out her Saturday against some very good competition with Louisville.”

“Lisa is one of the hardest-working athletes I have ever known,” Conelly said. “She’s very talented and she impressed the entire diving world when she made it on to the NCAA stage last year. She will be sorely missed and hard to replace.”

In her senior campaign, Graessle has been steady in leading the Cats in each of the breaststroke events, earning NCAA (B) provisional times, and career-best times in both events. Graessle is also a part of UK’s top 200- and 400-medley relay teams this season, which have also earned NCAA (B) times. As a junior, Graessle received All-American accolades as a part of two record-breaking relays, the 200- and 400-medley.

“Lindsey’s the team record holder in the 50 breast,” Conelly said. “She should have more records than that when she is done. She is hard working and soft spoken with a deep and vibrant competitive streak. She is a critical part of our team at conference and NCAAs. She has been a real joy to work with.”

Newsome currently has 14 top-three finishes as a senior and swims the second leg in the Cats’ top 200- and 400-free relay teams, which have both earned NCAA (B) provisional times this season. In her junior season, Newsome was a member of the 200-free relay team that finished in sixth place at the SEC Championships.

“Jenna is a strong competitor who has made a tremendous impact on our team and our top-10 times list,” Conelly said. “She is the backbone of any of our relays. I know I can always count on her to give her best effort in tough situations.”

Penrod is the owner of numerous program-record times, earning All-America honors as a junior by setting a school-record time in the 100-backstroke at the NCAA Championships. Penrod’s name is also listed in the record books at UK in the 200 backstroke where she set the time at the NCAA Championships. The Arcanum, Ohio, native was also a member of the record-breaking 200- and 400-medley relay teams at the NCAA Championships.  She has continued to lead the Cats as a senior with top times in the 100 and 200 backstroke.

“Chatham’s ability to overcome adversity is amazing and inspirational,” Conelly said. “Most swimmers couldn’t have faced the challenges she has overcome. She has a never-ending ability to improve. The best is yet come. She already owns every backstroke record we have, but I expect she won’t be satisfied until she rewrites them all again.”

Sergesketter has had a very strong senior campaign, leading the Cats in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle, and has already earned NCAA (B) provisional times in each of the three events. Sergesketter is also a member of the Cats’ top 200- and 400-freestyle relay teams and 200- and 400-medley relay teams, which have each earned NCAA (B) times. As a junior, Sergesketter became an All-American in the 200- and record-breaking 400-medley relays at the NCAA Championships. She was also a part of the record breaking 800-freestyle relay at the SEC Championships one season ago.

“Over the course of Kayla’s four years, she has become a dominating force on the team,” Conelly said. “Her training ethic is incredible. She, along with Chatham, have done an excellent job of leading and molding the women’s team into a top-20 caliber team. Like her fellow seniors, Kayla will be irreplaceable.”

As a senior, Strijdom currently has the fastest time on the team in the 200 freestyle, and swims the second leg of the Cats’ top 400- and 800-freestyle relay teams, which have both earned NCAA B-Cut times. In the 2009-10 campaign, Strijdom led off UK’s fourth-place-finishing 800-freestyle relay team at the SEC Championships and had five top-four finishes throughout the dual-meet season.

“Reinhardt has been a lot of fun to coach,” Conelly said. “Along the way I have pulled out about half my hair but it has still been a fun ride. He is great competitor and likes nothing more than to race. He can be a tenacious racer who will give everything he’s got when the big race comes along.”

Fans who cannot make it to the Lancaster Aquatic Center Saturday to watch the Cats and Cardinals compete can keep up with live stats online by visiting: http://www.ukathletics.com/sports/c-swim/spec-rel/meets/.

For fans and media wishing to attend the meet, parking structure No. 7 will be open and free to the public for use.

Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for all Kentucky swimming and diving news and for results from Saturday’s Senior Day meet.