Swimming and Diving Primed for SEC Championships



KENTUCKY AT
2016 SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
----
MEET CENTER
When:
Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 16-20
10 a.m./6 p.m. CT
Where:
Friday:
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Performance List: Men
Performance List: Women
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky’s swimming and diving teams will look to further improve under third year head coach Lars Jorgensen at the 2016 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by the University of Missouri on Feb. 16-20 in Columbia, Mo. 

The women finished 16th in the nation last year, the best team finish under Jorgensen’s tenure, following their seventh-place showing at the 2015 SEC Championships with 614 points.  Though the Wildcats suffered the loss of an impactful senior class headlined by US National Team member and NCAA runner-up in the 200 fly, Christina Bechtel, the Kentucky women have continued to make strides in both the conference and national level. 

Kentucky returns 2015’s SEC champion in the 200 back, Danielle Galyer, who currently holds the fastest seed time for the upcoming conference meet in the event with an NCAA A cut time of 1:51.52.  Galyer has also posted NCAA B cuts in the 100 back (52.45), 200 IM (2:00.12) and 200 free (1:46.78).  Joining Galyer in the backstroke races is Bridgette Alexander, who has posted B cuts in both the 100 (53.30) and 200 back (1:53.91).  Both backstrokers are returning All-Americans for the Blue and White, along with diver Rebecca Hamperian, who was named First Team All-America in both the 1-meter and platform dives.  Hamperian continues to lead the team with season bests of 299.70 in the 1-meter,  319.65 in the 3-meter, and 275.55 on tower.

The Wildcats have had strong performances from veterans and newcomers alike this year, with 24 total NCAA B cuts and eight times that rank nationally in the top-25.  In November, Kentucky had five different records broken at the Ohio State Invitational.  Of considerable note was Kendal Casey’s 4:42.58 in the 500 free, which shattered UK’s oldest standing record previously set by Kelly Heath in 1995.  Casey also paces the team in the 1650 free in 16:15.53, a personal record for the junior that stands as the second-fastest in program laurels.  Another record also fell courtesy of Kendra Crew in the 200 breast, becoming the first Wildcat to go sub-2:12 after posting a time of 2:11.97. 

UK also saw three long course meters broken by Ann Davies in the 200 IM (2:18.09), Kathryn Painter in the 400 IM (4:49.06) and Geena Freriks in the 100 free (56.29).  Freriks has also made her way into the UK record books as a freshman in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle, highlighted by her time of 1:46.78 in the 200 free that ranks second on Kentucky’s all-time list.  She has also swam a 4:44.35 in the 500 free, good for fourth all-time, and a 49.49 in the 100 free for the fifth-fastest swim in school history.  Painter, also in her rookie year, is just .06 seconds off the 400 IM record in 4:11.45, and is sixth all-time in the mile in 16:27.22. The Wildcats are also led by a freshman in the butterfly races, with Haley McInerny’s time of 1:59.50 in the 200 fly standing as the fourth-fastest in program history while her 54.28 is good for 10th all-time. 

Kentucky has a pair of relays that rank in the top-25 nationally, as Galyer, Crew, McInerny and Freriks have gone 3:34.85 for a B cut in the 400 medley relay while Galyer, Freriks, McInerny and Casey were just off the B cut mark in the 800 free relay in 7:11.62.  Both relays are the 12th-fastest in the NCAA this year.

The Wildcat men have made strides this season and will look to improve on a 10th-place finish with 407 points at last year’s league meet.  Kentucky broke through a barrier this season, winning its first SEC dual in seven years when it downed LSU on Jan. 9, 198-188.  The team returns three qualifiers from last year’s NCAA Championships in Kyle Higgins, Brandon Flynn and Levi Lindsey, who have continued to have success through the 2015-16 campaign.  Higgins leads the team in the butterfly races as well as the 500 free, with B cuts in the 100 (48.09) and 200 fly (1:45.30) along with a 4:24.24 in the 500 free.  Flynn has posted a top-25 time in the 400 IM in a B cut time of 3:47.70, which ranks 21st in the nation.  The junior also posted the third-fastest time in UK history in the 200 IM in 1:48.35. 

Lindsey has recorded season-best scores of 337.13 in the 1-meter, 360.60 in the 3-meter, and 321.38 on tower, but has been paced in each event by freshman Seb Masterton, who was named the SEC Diver of the Week twice in his rookie campaign.  The British product has put up the fourth-highest score in school history on tower with a 388.35, and ranks fifth in both the 1-meter and 3-meter with scores of 378.10 and 384.90, respectively. 

Kentucky has also seen top-25 performances out of Drew Aviotti and the 800 free relay lineup of Sean Gunn, Scott Crosthwaite, Higgins and Flynn.  Aviotti holds the No. 23 time in the 1650 free, just five seconds off his UK record in 15:05.24, while the relay quartet posted a 6:33.42 to sit at No. 24 in the NCAA.  Gunn and Crosthwaite appear atop UK’s top times of the season in the 100 and 200 free, respectively, with Gunn having swum a 44.85 in the 100 free while Crosthwaite recorded a B cut time of 1:37.59 in the 200 free.  Pacing the 50 free is freshman Cobe Garcia, who swam an in-season career-best time of 20.21 to hold the fastest mark on the team.

UK will look to senior All-American George Greenhalgh in the breaststroke races, who will return to competition after redshirting the 2014-15 season.  Greenhalgh did not swim in the tapered OSU Invite in November, but posted an in-season B cut of 55.37 in the 100 breast while his best dual mark in the 200 breast stands at 2:02.47.  Flynn holds the fastest time of the season in the 200 breast, swimming a 2:00.57 for the fifth-fastest time in UK laurels.  Veteran Wildcat Walker Thaning has led the team in the backstroke races, swimming a personal-best 48.57 in the 100 back while also recording a 1:47.34 in the 200 back. 

Tuesday’s program will be a relatively light one, with the women’s 1-meter prelims at 11 a.m. CT and men’s 3-meter prelims at 2:15 p.m.  The finals for the women’s 1-meter will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 200 medley relays at 6:15, the men’s 3-meter finals at 6:30 p.m. and the 800 free relays at 7:15 p.m.  For the remaining four days, the prelims will begin at 10 a.m. with the finals starting at 6 p.m.  Wednesday will include the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free, men’s 1-meter dive and 200 free relay.  Thursday will run through the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free and women’s 3-meter dive.  Friday will see the 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, men’s platform dive and 400 medley relay.  The final day of the championships will include the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, women’s platform dive, 1650 free and 400 free relay. 

SCOUTING THE SEC
The Southeastern Conference is arguably the strongest league in collegiate swimming today, with more teams in the CSCAA Top-25 than any other conference on both the men’s and women’s sides.  For the men, the SEC boasts eight teams in the top-25, while the Big Ten and American Athletic Conferences have five teams apiece, followed by four from the Pac-12, two in the Ivy League and one in the Big 12.  The women’s side also features eight teams in the top-25, headlined by No. 1 Georgia, while the B1G follows with seven teams, the Pac-12 with five, the ACC with four and the Big 12 with one.

To provide a simple indicator of each team’s strength, a table below outlines how many NCAA A and B cuts, or automatic and consideration qualifying times for the NCAA Championships, have been posted by each team as well as how many times rank in the top-25 and top-10.  The table also provides information on how many All-America awards the team received at the 2015 NCAA Championships from its returners, as well as All-America honorable mention nods.  The team that leads in each category will have its number appear in  bold red .  The table reflects times swum prior to Feb. 8.

Men

School

(CSCAA Rank)

NCAA B Cuts

NCAA A Cuts

Top-25 Times

Top-10 Times

2015 All-America Honors from Returners

Returning A-A Honorable Mentions

Alabama (11)

34

4

17

11

16

5

Auburn (6)

40

3

19

8

17

8

Florida (5)

46

10

29

16

11

15

Georgia (3)

49

7

30

18

7

15

Kentucky (NR)

13

0

3

0

0

0

LSU (25)

21

0

6

0

0

0

Missouri (13)

40

7

14

11

4

11

South Carolina (RV)

21

0

7

3

2

4

Tennessee (10)

20

2

8

4

7

10

Texas A&M (24)

18

0

4

0

0

0

 

Women

School

NCAA B Cuts

NCAA A Cuts

Top-25 Times

Top-10 Times

Returning

All-Americans

Returning A-A Honorable Mentions

Alabama (23)

23

0

8

1

0

0

Arkansas (RV)

27

0

7

0

0

0

Auburn (11)

50

0

18

4

4

8

Florida (9)

39

1

14

8

10

5

Georgia (1)

46

11

35

20

25

8

Kentucky (NR)

24

1

8

1

3

4

LSU (20)

23

0

10

2

0

4

Missouri (21)

31

5

13

6

6

7

South Carolina (NR)

7

0

0

0

0

0

Tennessee (13)

42

3

17

6

5

11

Texas A&M (5)

59

4

25

11

8

11

Vanderbilt

5

0

0

0

0

0

 


ALABAMA
The Alabama men finished third at last year’s SEC Championships with 1,084 points, and return all six athletes that registered a championship title for the Crimson Tide. Leading the way for Alabama is sophomore Kristian Gkolomeev, who is the reigning NCAA champion in the 100 free and runner-up in the 50 free, winning both titles at the SEC level while also swimming on the winning 200 free and 400 medley relays.  Alabama returns five other All-Americans in Alex Gray, Luke Kaliszak, Anton McKee, Connor Oslin and Brett Walsh, as the group combined for 16 All-America honors and five honorable mentions.  Oslin will be defending his title in the 100 back as well as the 400 medley relay with McKee, Walsh and Gkolomeev, while the 200 free relay of Gkolomeev, Gray, Kaliszak and Walsh will also be fighting for a reprise this year.  Currently, the 200 free relay has the top time in the nation, while the 200 medley lineup of Olsin, Pavel Romanov, Walsh and Gkolomeev has the second-fastest mark this year.

The Alabama women placed ninth with 535 points at the 2015 SEC Championships, but did not have any returning member of the team capture a crown last year.  The Crimson Tide lost their sole All-American and SEC champion in the 100 and 200 breast, Kaylin Burchell.  Alabama swimmers have recorded 23 NCAA B cuts, including one time that ranks in the top-10 of collegiate swims for this year courtesy of Mia Nonnenburg in the 400 IM.

ARKANSAS
Arkansas sponsors only a women’s team, which is receiving votes in the CSCAA poll.  The Razorbacks placed 10th at last year’s championship with 465 points, and did not have any champions.  Arkansas lost its only NCAA scorer in breaststroker Nikki Daniels, but the team has posted seven times that rank in the top-25 with Anna Mayfield in the 100 back and 500 free along with Maddie Monroe in the 100 and 200 free.  Additionally, the 200 free and medley relay, along with the 400 free relay, rank within the top-25 nationally.

AUBURN
Auburn’s men hold down the No. 6 spot in the CSCAA poll, and return a group of athlete that collected 17 All-America honors last season.  The Tigers lose All-American diver and the 2015 SEC champion in the platform dive, Fraser McKean, but return the quartet of Kyle Darmody, Michael Duderstadt, Arthur Mendes and Jacob Molacek that captured the SEC title in the 400 free relay and earned All-America accolades, along with All-Americans Hugo Morris and Joe Patching. 

Auburn’s women are ranked 11th in the nation and finished in the top half of the conference after taking sixth at the SEC Championships with 722 points.  The Tigers return six athletes who combined for four All-America First Team nods and eight honorable mentions.  Auburn’s team depth is showcased in its 50 NCAA B cuts, the second-most in the SEC, highlighted by the eighth-fastest 200 medley relay in the nation behind Ashton Ellzy, Allyx Purcell, Shannon McKernan and Aly Tetzloff.

FLORIDA
Florida’s men, ranked fifth in the nation, will be defending their 2015 SEC Championship title after they won with 1,134.5 points.  The Gators have recorded the most automatic NCAA qualifying times in the SEC, with 10 NCAA A cuts.  Headlining the eight athletes that combined for 11 All-America First Team honors and 15 honorable mentions is Caeleb Dressel, who holds the fastest time this year in the 50 free and the second-fastest in the 100 free and 100 fly after claiming the SEC title in the 100 fly and the NCAA championship in the 50 free last year.  Florida also returns half of its SEC championship lineup in the 800 free with Mitch D’Arrigo and Pawel Warner, with D’Arrigo defending his conference title in the 500 free.  The Gators have put up impressive times in their relays, with NCAA A cuts in all five lineups.  Additionally, Florida is the only school in the nation to rank in the top-five in every relay.  Florida ranks first in the nation in the 400 free relay, second in the 800 free relay, third in the 200 and 400 medley relays, and fourth in the 200 free relay. 

The No. 9 Florida women finished third at the SEC Championships last season with 963.5 points, and return all six athletes that combined for 10 All-America First Team distinctions and five honorable mentions.  Looking to defend SEC titles will be Natalie Hinds in the 100 free, Amelia Maughan in the 200 IM and Jessica Thielmann in the 1650 free.  Both Hinds and Thielmann medaled at the national level, taking third in the 100 free and mile, respectively.  Florida also returns All-American diver Kahlia Warner, who had her highest national finish in the 1-meter dive.


GEORGIA
The Bulldog men sit at No. 3 in the CSCAA poll, and finished runner-up at last year’s SEC Championships with 1,134.5 points.  Georgia has three athletes that claimed SEC titles last year on the roster, but will not see the American record holder in the 400 IM, Chase Kalisz, due to his decision to redshirt the season in anticipation of the 2016 Olympics.  Ty Stewart will return to defend his title in the 200 IM and Matias Koski aims for another crown in the 200 free, while the Bulldogs lose the 100 and 200 breast champion, Nicolas Fink.  Despite the loss of Fink and Kalisz’s redshirting, the Bulldogs are still a power due to their depth with the most NCAA B cuts (49), top-25 times (30) and top-10 times (18) than any other SEC school.  Georgia currently has five times that rank either first or second in the nation, with Koski holding the No. 1 spot in the 200 free, Jay Litherland and Gunnar Bentz recording the top two times in the 400 IM, and Pace Clark and Taylor Dale ranking second in the 200 fly and 100 back, respectively.

Georgia’s women are the highest ranked team in collegiate swimming, and had a clear win in the SEC Championships last season with 1,450 points. The Bulldogs also finished second at the NCAA Championships with 452 points, and return 10 athletes that combined for a whopping 25 First Team All-America titles and eight additional honorable mentions.  Senior Hali Flickinger can compete in a multitude of events for Georgia, as she was the SEC champion and national runner-up in the 400 IM while also swimming on the SEC title and national third-place 800 free relay lineup.  Flickinger currently holds the top time in the NCAA in the 200 free and 200 fly while also swimming on the nation-leading 400 and 800 free relays.  Pairing up with Flickinger in both relays are Olivia Smoliga, who boasts the nation’s fastest times in the 50  and 100 free, Meaghan Raab and Brittany MacLean, who holds the No. 2 times in the 500 and 1650 free. 

LSU
LSU’s men are ranked 25th in the nation and took ninth at last year’s championships with 538.5 points.  The Tigers did not have any member of the team claim a championship crown last year, nor did they place at the NCAA Championships.  LSU’s swimmers have recorded 21 NCAA B cuts this year, with six times that rank in the top-25 of this year’s NCAA swims.  Logan Rysemus headlines the top times for the Tigers, ranking 13th in the 100 fly and 18th in the 100 back while leading off on the No. 21 200 medley relay and anchoring the No. 15 medley relay.  Appearing alongside Rysemus in the 200 medley relay are Silas Dejean, Alex Linge and Joao Mescolote, while Brandon Goldman, Dejean and Linge round out the 400 medley relay quartet.  LSU also has the 21st-fastest 200 free relay in the nation behind Mescolote, Tyler Harper, Devin McCaffrey and Linge.

The women’s team is ranked No. 20 and finished fifth at the SEC Championships last year with 727 points while also placing 34th at the NCAA Championships with 15 points.  The Tigers return three athletes who collected All-America honorable mention in Kara Kopcso, Madison Sthamann and 2015 SEC platform champion Cassie Weil. Kopcso took home honors in the 200 fly, while Sthamann placed in the top-16 in the platform dive and Weil was an honorable mention in the 3-meter dive.  Kopcso has upped her performance this season, posting a pair of times that rank in the top-10 of NCAA competitors this year, ranking seventh in the 200 fly and ninth in the 200 IM.  The Tigers have had success this season in their relays, with the 400 and 800 free as well as the 200 and 400 medley relays ranking in the top-25 nationally.

MISSOURI
The host Tigers are ranked 13th in the nation on the men’s side, and took sixth at last year’s SEC Championships with 594 points before finishing 11th at the NCAA Championships with 132.5 points.  Though no member of the Missouri squad claimed an SEC title last season, the Tigers have an impressive 11 marks that rank in the top-10 along with seven automatic qualifiers and return seven athletes that combined for four First Team All-America honors and 11 honorable mentions.  Michael Chadwick holds the fastest time in the 100 free this year and the second-fastest mark in the 50 free, both of which are NCAA A cuts.  Mizzou also has a stronghold in transfer athlete Fabian Schwingenschlogl, who leads the nation in the 100 breast and ranks sixth in the 200 breast.  The remaining A cuts come from the relays, highlighted by the nation-leading 200 medley relay behind Dillon Love, Schwingenschlogl, Andrew Sansoucie and Chadwick.  The Tigers are also ranked second in the 200 free and 400 medley relays, and posted an additional automatic qualifying time in the 400 free relay.

Missouri’s women enter the meet ranked No. 21 and finished eighth at last year’s conference championships with 594 points along with a 14th-place showing at the national meet with 100 points.  Like the men, the Mizzou women did not boast any SEC champions but return six athletes who combined for six First Team All-America honors and seven honorable mentions.  A pair to watch will be Abby Duncan and Katharine Ross, who are two of the SEC’s top breaststrokers.  Ross holds the third-fastest time in the nation in the 100 breast while Duncan is fifth, both of which are A cuts and the top times in the conference.  Duncan holds the advantage in the 200 breast, with the fastest time among NCAA competitors, and also appears on the 200 and 400 medley relays that rank fifth and sixth, respectively, with automatic qualifying marks.  

SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina’s men finished seventh at last year’s championships with 567 points before placing 19th at the NCAA Championships with 51 points, and are receiving votes in the CSCAA poll.  Four Gamecocks return to the team that combined for two All-America First Team nods and four honorable mentions, two of which currently hold times that rank in the top-10 nationally.  Nils Wich-Glasen, an All-American in the 200 breast, holds the ninth-fastest time in the 100 breast and is 10th in the 200 breast, while Akaram Mahmoud is the sixth-fastest in the nation in the 1650 free.  South Carolina thrives in the longer distances, including two relays ranked in the top-25 with the 800 free relay coming in at No. 19 while the 400 free relay is 25th in the nation.

The women’s team finished 11th at last year’s championships and did not place at the NCAA Championships.  The Gamecocks have posted seven NCAA B cuts this season, with Emma Barksdale holding three to her name.  The freshman ranks in the top-50 in both the 200 and 400 IM, while she is also the second-fastest on the team in the 200 breast behind Kersten Dirrane, who has also posted a consideration mark in the 100 breast.  Also notching B cuts are Brittany Oxley in the 200 breast and Marissa Delgado in the 200 fly. 

TENNESSEE
Tennessee’s men are ranked 10th in the nation, and finished fourth at the SEC meet with 918 points and 14th at the NCAA Championships with 111 points.  The Vols return four SEC champions, along with four more who were part of the group that earned seven All-America First Team and 10 honorable mentions.  Tennessee showed its strength in diving last season, with Mauricio Robles claiming the title on the 1-meter springboard and Liam Stone taking home the crown on the 3-meter springboard, with both earning All-America First Team honors in the 3-meter dive.  Also returning to the roster are Sean Lehane and Peter John Stevens, who both swam on the winning 200 medley relay team while Lehane was crowned the champion in the 200 back and went on to finish runner-up in the event at the NCAA Championships.  Lehane has recorded one of the team’s two A cuts, ranking fourth in the nation in the 100 back while Evan Pinon is fourth in his respective specialty, the 1650 free. 

The women’s team, which finished also finished fourth at the SEC Championship after tallying 745.5 points and went on to take 11th at the NCAA Championships with 125 points, enters the meet ranked 13th in the nation.  The Vols return four swimmers who were part of SEC winning relays in the 200 and 400 medley relays.  Harper Bruens and Faith Johnson appeared on both lineups, while Anna DeMonte led off on the 200 medley relay and Amanda Carner took her place in the 400 medley relay.  This year, it has been the 200 and 400 free relays that have excelled for the Vols, both recording automatic qualifying times while ranking in the top-eight nationally.  Additionally, freshman Madeline Banic has recorded an automatic qualifying time in the 100 fly with her nation-leading mark.

TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M’s men’s squad, which finished eighth last year at the SEC meet with 555 points and scored 4.5 points at the NCAA Championships to finish 38th, is ranked No. 24 in the nation but does not return its lone scorer from the national championships.  The Aggies have posted four times that rank in the top-25 nationally, with Brock Bonetti contributing to three of those marks after ranking 15th in the 100 back, 25th in the 200 back and leading off on the No. 18 400 medley relay along with Mauro Castillo, Türker Ayar and Jacob Gonzales.  Castillo has also posted a top time nationally, ranking 11th in the 200 breast.

The Aggie women, ranked fifth in the nation, came in runner-up at last year’s SEC Championships with 1,166 points and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships with 231 points.  Nine athletes return to the roster that combined for eight All-America First Team honors along with 11 honorable mentions, including the 2015 SEC champion in the 100 fly, Beryl Gastaldello.  The sophomore ranks fifth in the nation in the event, but has notched A cuts in the 50 free, ranking third among NCAA competitors, and the sixth-ranked 200 medley relay, leading off on the lineup along with Sycerika McMahon, Sarah Gibson and Lexie Lupton.  The Aggies also have seen A cuts from Bethany Galat, who ranks second in the 400 IM and fourth in the 200 IM. 

VANDERBILT
Vanderbilt also fields just a women’s team, which finished 12th at last year’s SEC Championships with 173 points and did not have any representatives at the NCAA Championships.  The Commodores currently have three athletes who have recorded NCAA B cuts, headlined by Kara Lucenti in the 100 and 200 breast as well as the 400 IM.  Breanna Sapienza and Kayla Moran have also recorded consideration marks, both of which are in the 100 fly.