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UK Swimming and Diving Travels to SEC Championships

Head coach Lars Jorgensen and the Wildcats open the SEC Championships Tuesday

Head coach Lars Jorgensen and the Wildcats open the SEC Championships Tuesday

Feb. 17, 2014

SWIMMING AND DIVING AT SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
When:
Tuesday, Feb. 18-Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 | Prelims: 10 a.m. ET, Finals: 6 p.m. ET
Where: Gabrielsen Natatorium, Athens, Ga.
Live Results: GeorgiaDogs.com
Live Video: GeorgiaDogs.com (Feb. 18-20) | ESPN3/WatchESPN.com (Feb. 21-22)
More Info: Meet Notes | Meet Central
Video: Coach Jorgensen, Ferrucci and Berger Preview the SEC Championships
Additional Info: Twitter | Facebook

ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Kentucky swimming and diving team begins postseason competition Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships in Athens, Ga. Competition begins Feb. 18 and runs through Feb. 22, where 42 conference champions will be crowned along with a men's and women's team champion.

Hosted by the University of Georgia at Gabrielsen Natatorium, swimming preliminaries are scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. ET and diving prelims at 1 p.m., while the finals will begin each day at 6 p.m.

It's the best conference in America," first-year head coach Lars Jorgensen said. "Five or six of the top ten teams are in our conference, its going to be a great meet, it's fun to compete against the best. Not only the best athletes in the country, but some of the best in the world. It's going to be a great meet down in Athens and we're looking forward to it.

Both the UK men and women placed ninth at last season's conference championship, hosted by Texas A&M. Florida won the men's championship, while Georgia claimed its fourth consecutive women's title in 2013. Kentucky's highest-ever finish at the league championship was third, most recently in 1999 by the women and in 1960 by the men.

Kentucky is coming off a win over Cincinnati by both the men and women on Senior Day in Lexington on Feb. 1. The Wildcats won 26 of the 32 events en route to a 213-80 win by the men, and a 186-106 win from the UK women. Junior swimmer Christina Bechtel, senior diver Greg Ferrucci and junior diver Christa Cabot each won two events.

"You always want to see progression, from October through February, and I think we've seen that," Jorgensen added. "We have a lot to look forward to. I think we have some people vying for SEC championships. It's a great facility, I think it's the best pool in the country, Georgia is a great host. We are excited."

Six of the SEC's 10 men's teams and six of 12 women's squads are ranked in the CollegeSwimming.com Top 25. The men are headlined by top-ranked Florida, while the women's ranking has defending national champion Georgia No. 1. The UK men are ranked 28th and the women are 40th nationally.

FOLLOWING THE WILDCATS IN ATHENS, GA.
Fans can follow along with all the action from UGA's Gabrielsen Natatorium with live results at GeorgiaDogs.com. A live stream of Tuesday through Thursday's finals will be available on GeorgiaDogs.com, while Friday and Saturday's finals will be streamed live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com.

Additional updates and behind-the-scenes notes and photos can be found at @UKSwimDive, the official Twitter account of the UK swimming and diving program.

ESPNU will recap the championships with a 90-minute highlight show. The men's show will air on March 3 at 4 p.m. ET, while the women's show will air March 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

UK'S SEC CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
The Wildcat men have finished as high as third twice at the SEC Championships, in 1954 and 1960. UK's last top-five finish was in 2008, when it placed fifth. The Kentucky women's highest finish was third, in 1999. First held in 1981, the Wildcats' first SEC Championship was 1985.

UK swimmers and divers have won a total of 23 individual conference titles, 13 by the women and 10 by the men. Kentucky is led by Taryn Ignacio's five and Roger Messick's four. Ignacio, Kentucky's lone national champion, claimed two diving titles in 2005 and 2007 along with one win in 2006. Messick won two swimming titles in 1955 and another two in 1957. Ignacio's wins in 2007 are the last league titles for the Wildcats.

LAST TIME OUT: VS. CINCINNATI
Kentucky closed out the 2014 regular season with a bang on Feb. 1, winning 26 of the 32 events held in a win over Cincinnati. The UK men beat the Bearcats 213-80, while the Wildcats also came out on the winning side for the women, collecting a 186-106 win.

Junior Christina Bechtel collected two wins, taking the crown in both the 100-butterfly and the 50-freestyle. Bechtel tapped in No. 1 in the 50-freestyle in just less than 24 seconds, at 23.93, while recording a 55.37 in the 100-fly to take the top spot on the podium.

Senior Greg Ferrucci won both the men's 1-meter and 3-meter competitions, with a 398.25 on the 1-meter and a mark of 374.33. Junior Christa Cabot also won both the 1-meter and the 3-meter for Kentucky. Cabot scored a 335.70 on the 3-meter, while collecting a 330.83 to win on the lower board.

A full recap from UK's win can be found here.

UP NEXT: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Postseason competition continues for UK at the NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, for those that qualify. Divers will qualify at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships March 13-15 in Columbus, Ohio. The NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will be held March 20-23 in Minneapolis, Minn., while the men's championships are scheduled for March 27-30 in Austin, Texas.

WILDCATS EARN FIVE SEC ATHLETE OF THE WEEK HONORS
The Wildcats have been honored with five Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Week honors this season. Freshman Brandon Flynn was named the Freshman of the Week on Oct. 29, while junior swimmer Christina Bechtel and senior diver Greg Ferrucci were honored with the season's first Athlete the Week awards on Oct. 15. Bechtel was honored again on Nov. 27 with Swimmer of the Week accolades, while Ferrucci earned the season's final Diver of the Week award on Feb. 4.

Bechtel broke two school records, set two meet records and recorded three NCAA `A' or `B' qualifying times in seven events Nov. 22-24 at the Ohio State Invitational to earn her second SEC honor. Competing against four teams, three of them ranked in the top 14 nationally, Bechtel posted career best times in all individual events. 

Flynn was named the SEC's Male Freshman Swimmer of the Week for the first time in his career after he won all four events he competed in against Missouri and Southern Illinois over two days. Flynn recorded his first collegiate win in the men's 400 individual medley, and, eight events later, he returned to the water to win the men's 500 freestyle. The next day, Flynn won the 1,000 yard freestyle in 9:21.94 before leading the way as the UK men finished one-two-three in the 500 yard freestyle.

Ferrucci won all four diving events to open the year. At Georgia on Sept. 25, he notched victories in the 1- and 3-meter dives, while the senior swept the diving events again at home against Ohio State on Oct. 11. 

Bechtel earned her first career SEC Female Swimmer of the Week honor after a two-win performance Oct. 11 against Ohio State. On the strengths of two wins in the butterfly against Ohio State, Bechtel was ranked second nationally in the 100-yard butterfly after she finished first with a time of 54.34. Bechtel, an NCAA qualifier last year, also posted a win in the 200-yard butterfly against the Buckeyes.

Ferrucci earned his ninth career SEC weekly award on Feb. 4 after the senior won both the 1- and 3-meter competition with season-high scores against Cincinnati on Senior Day in Lexington. The Huntersville, N.C., native posted a 398.25 in the 1-meter event to shatter his previous season-best by more than 20 points. His score is the second-best in the SEC this season. In the 3-meter competition, Ferrucci tallied a 374.33, a season-best by nearly 30 points.

MYERS, SIMPSON NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
Swimmers Maclin Simpson and Abby Myers were named to the 2014 men's and women's Swimming and Diving Community Service Team. Simpson, a senior, is named to the team for the second time in his career, while Myers, a junior, earned her first Community Service Team honor. The team highlights an athlete from each school who gives back to his or her community in superior service efforts.

Simpson, a Louisville, Ky., native, was also named to the Community Service Team in 2012. A three-time team captain, the senior participated in an Ethiopian Mission Trip in the summer of 2013 with several other UK student-athletes. He also volunteered with the UK Children's Hospital Blanket Project, Back Pack Program packing and delivery, Back-to-School Picnic and Cats Cultivating Character. He was Inducted into Kentucky's prestigious Frank G. Ham Society of Character in 2013. A marketing and management major, Simpson is also a two-time SEC All-Academic Team honoree.

From Cranberry Township, Pa., Myers was named to the Community Service Team for the first time in her career. The junior volunteered with the International Book Project, coached the Fintastics team for the Special Olympics YMCA and was a United Way collection drive volunteer. She also worked on the UK Children's Hospital Blanket Project, Cats Cultivating Character and the Back Pack Program delivery. A 2014 nominee for the University of Kentucky's prestigious Frank G. Ham Society of Character, Myers is a Kinesiology and Health Promotions Major with a Pre-Physical Therapy concentration.

THE JORGENSEN FILE
Lars Jorgensen is in his first season as head coach at Kentucky after serving as an associate head coach for the Wildcats last season. A 1988 Olympian and standout student-athlete at the University of Tennessee, Jorgensen served as interim head coach for his alma mater in 2011-12. He also spent time on the coaching staffs at Toledo and LSU.

As a student-athlete at UT, Jorgensen holds the school record in the 1,000 freestyle, set in 1992. He earned a silver medal at the 1993 SEC Championships in the 1,650 freestyle and helped the Volunteers to a third-place finish.

At the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Jorgensen placed ninth in the 1,500-meter freestyle. His brother Daniel also competed in 1988, making them the second pair of brothers to participate in an Olympics. Daniel returned to the Olympics in 1992 and won a bronze medal as part of the 800 freestyle team, while their father, Niels, was an Olympic wrestler for Denmark.

RETURNING STARPOWER
UK returns all four student-athletes that competed at the 2013 Men's and Women's NCAA Championships. Senior diver Greg Ferrucci is coming off fourth-place finishes in all three NCAA events and became the first diver to earn First-Team All-America honors in one season on the 1 meter, 3 meter and platform. Senior John Fox and juniors Christina Bechtel and Christa Cabot made their first NCAA appearance in 2013.

2013-14 CAPTAINS ANNOUNCED
Seniors John Fox and Maclin Simpson and junior Michael Christian were named captains of the UK men's team, while juniors Christina Bechtel, Christa Cabot and Lindsay Hill were announced as captains of the women's squad.

A LOOK AT THE 2013-14 SCHEDULE
The 2013-14 campaign features dual or tri meets with five SEC foes and two home competitions. In addition to Oct. 11's home opener against Ohio State, the Wildcats welcome Cincinnati to Lexington on Feb. 1 at noon at the Lancaster Aquatics Center on the UK campus.

The 2014 SEC Championships will be held Feb. 18-22 in Athens, Ga. The NCAA Women's Championship will be in Minneapolis, Minn., March 20-23, while the men's national championship will be March 27-30 in Austin, Texas.

The complete 2013-14 schedule can be found here.

For complete news and updates on the Kentucky Swimming and Diving program, go to UKathletics.com/SwimmingDiving. Breaking news, behind-the-scenes updates, photos and more can be found on Twitter at @UKSwimDive and Facebook at Facebook.com/UKSwimDive.


 

 

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