Women Aim For Top-10 Finish at NCAAs
COLUMBUS, Ohio--- Seven members of the University of Kentucky women’s swimming and diving team will represent the team at the 2008 NCAA Championships, Thurs.-Sat., hosted by the Ohio State University.
The women are coming off a school-best 12th place finish a season ago, and are aiming to improve that finish with a top-10 placement in the country this season. Kentucky will take six NCAA veterans to the pool this week, with only sophomore Megan Pulskamp being a first-time participant.
Seniors Heather and Jenny Bradford, Lindsay Myhre, Kari Retrum, Jill Southerlan and Lauren Willis will conclude their careers at the national meet this week. All six of the women have earned All-America accolades during their careers.
Jenny Bradford will take the top-seed with a time of 22.00 into the 50-freestyle event this week. Bradford’s clip, which she set in the preliminary heat of the SEC Championships, ranks first nationally with the second-fastest time clocking in at 22.02. The senior has earned top-eight finishes in the event in each of the past two seasons. Bradford will also compete in the 100-free and 100-fly for the third straight year.
Heather Bradford is eighth nationally in the 50-free with a time of 22.24, a career-best time that she reached at the conference meet. Bradford placed in the top-16 in the event for the first time in her career at the 2007 NCAA Championships, and earned a bronze medal in the event at this season’s SEC meet. Bradford is also among the competitors in the 100-fly and 100-free. At the 2007 NCAAs, she placed seventh overall in the 100-fly, earning her first career All-America honor.
Fellow senior Lauren Willis will also compete in the 50-free event for the second consecutive season. She enters the meet with a time of 23.03. Additionally, Willis will also take to the pool in the 100-free.
The trio, along with Pulskamp, combines to form a potent 200-free relay team. A year ago the 200-free relay team placed seventh overall, a first in school history. But, this season’s squad eclipsed the UK record-setting time en route to a second place finish at the conference meet. The 200-free relay is seeded fifth with a time of 1:29.12. Wisconsin holds the top seed having registered a 1:28.51 time.
The Bradfords, Willis and Pulskamp will also compete together in the 400-free relay on the final night of competition. The quartet set a UK record in the event at the 2008 SEC Championships, and concluded the week with records in both sprint freestyle relays. They are seeded 17th in the event with a time of 3:19.39.
Pulskamp will compete in two individual events as a first time NCAA participant. The sophomore is among the field in both the 100- and 200-fly events.
Myhre and Southerlan will combine with the Bradfords in the medley relay events. Southerlan opens the relays in the backstroke leg, as Myhre swims the breaststroke leg. Heather Bradford swims butterfly with Jenny Bradford anchoring in the freestyle leg. Kentucky’s 200-medley relay is seeded 14th this season having clocked in a time of 1:39.33.
Myhre will return to the pool in individual races in both breaststroke events. A year ago, she competed in the 100-breast placing 34th overall. This year she will compete in both events for the first time in her career, having earned an NCAA ‘B’ time standard in the 200-breast at the conference meet.
On the boards, Kentucky is represented by Retrum who is a repeat member of the diving field. Retrum appeared in her first career NCAA Championships just a season ago and earned two All-America honorable mention distinctions. Retrum took 11th on platform and 12th on one-meter. She will return this year and compete in all three diving events, having placed second on the one-meter, sixth on three-meter and fourth on platform at this year’s SEC Championships.
The NCAA Championships are spread over a three day period. The first event of the meet is the 200-freestyle relay. Auburn University is the nation’s reining national champions and also the 2008 SEC Champions. Live stats are available at Ohio State’s website www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. The official psych sheet can be found at www.ncaaswim.com/pdf/OfficialPsych.pdf?DB_OEM_ID=17300
Complete coverage and results of the UK women’s swimming and diving team will be available at www.ukathletics.com.