Wildcats Prepped for Back-to-Back SEC Duals at Auburn and South Carolina

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky’s swimming and diving teams will kick off the 2016-17 campaign with back-to-back Southeastern Conference duals at Auburn (Oct. 12) and South Carolina (Oct. 13). Both meets are slated to begin at Noon ET.

“Both Auburn and South Carolina are good teams on both sides who competed well in the postseason last year,” said head coach Lars Jorgensen. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we want to be competitive and see where we are at the start of the season. It’s exciting to race against the best and I think our athletes are going to step up to that challenge. We look forward to competing against both teams.” 

Coming off a successful 2015-16 campaign in which Kentucky saw 14 school records broken, the Wildcats return an experienced roster which features 55 student-athletes from last year’s squads. Eleven of the 13 swimmers and divers that competed in the 2016 NCAA Championships return, and all six of the program’s 2015-16 All-Americans, including Danielle Galyer, the defending NCAA champion in the 200-meter backstroke.

“The challenge for us will be to swim one meet, travel, and then swim South Carolina. But the reason we did that is because we’ll have to compete back-to-back days at SECs and NCAAs,” explained Jorgensen. “The intent is for them to swim fast at Auburn and then try to swim as fast at South Carolina because that prepares us for the end of the season.”

WILDCATS TO WATCH
In her final season as a Wildcat, Galyer will look to defend her national title and regain her SEC title in the 200 backstroke. The senior represents one of the most decorated swimmers in Kentucky history, holding school records in the 100 and 200 backstroke, the 200 IM and a member of four of the fastest relay teams in school history.

Freshman Asia Seidt emerged as one of the top freshmen after the Blue-White meet, placing first in the 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard IM for the women. The Louisville, Kentucky product qualified for five events in the Olympic Trials over the summer, and finished 21st overall in the 200 back.

Kentucky hopes to see sophomore Cobe Garcia continue to develop and stand out for the men. Last season, Garcia was named the team’s Most Improved Swimmer after recording two wins in the 50 free during the regular season, clocking in at 44.22 seconds in the 100 free for No. 11 in Kentucky’s all-time records list and qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 50 free.

Rebecca Hamperian and Seb Masterton both will be strong competitors for the Wildcats this season after both coming off successful 2016 campaigns. Hamperian earned the silver medal in the 1-meter dive at the SEC Championships last season and qualified all three dives at the NCAA Championships. Masterton had an exceptional freshmen season, earning All-American honors after placing 11th in the platform dive. He also turned in a second-place finish at the SEC Champions in both the 3-meter and platform team to earn All-SEC Second Team honors. 

SCOUTING AUBURN
The Auburn men finished 10th at the NCAA Championships and second at the SEC Championships last season, while the women finished 33rd at NCAAs and fourth at SECs. 

The Tigers opened their season Oct. 8, with a pair of wins against Wisconsin. Joe Patching won three individual events for the men and Natasha Lloyd and Ashley Neidigh each won two for the women. In all, the Auburn men won nine events and won the meet 156-144, while the women won 10 events to win 165-135.

SERIES HISTORY VS. THE TIGERS
The Auburn women own a 6-2 advantage in all-time dual meets against the Wildcats, while the men claim a 5-3 lead. The last dual meet between the two schools was Nov. 2, 2012, in Lexington when the Tigers swept the meet. The men won, 205.5-94.5, and the women, 212.5-87.5. 

SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA
The South Carolina men turned in a 19th place finish at NCAAs and seventh at SECs last season. The women finished 29th and 11th, respectively. The Gamecocks return distance swimmer Akaram Mahmoud, who earned the title in the 1650 freestyle at SECs with a time of 14:35.49, and earned the silver at NCAAs in the same event, touching in at 14:31.66.

This will be the first outing of the season for the Gamecocks, as their first scheduled meet at the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational was canceled due to Hurricane Matthew.

SERIES HISTORY VS. THE GAMECOCKS
UK's women's team is 13-7 all-time vs. South Carolina in dual meet competition, while the men are 12-8. The teams last met in 2014 in Lexington, when the women claimed a 177-123 win over the Lady Gamecocks. The Wildcat men suffered a 207.5-92.5 loss.

2015-16 IN REVIEW
During the 2015-16 campaign, Kentucky saw 14 school records broken along with the program’s first ever NCAA swimming champion in Danielle Galyer. The women’s squad finished 20th at the NCAA Championships last season and notched 619 points at the SEC Championships, the highest ever SEC point-total in the program’s history, to finish eighth at the tournament. The men finished ninth in the SEC last year in a league that features six teams ranked in the top-25 with an additional two receiving votes in the CSCAA Coaches poll.  Overall, the Wildcats picked up nine All-America accolades throughout six different events. 

For the latest on the Kentucky swimming and diving program, follow @UKSwimDive on Twitter, on Facebook at Facebook.com/UKSwimDive, and on the web at UKathletics.com.