Sept. 24, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A new era in the long history of the University of Kentucky swimming and diving program begins Wednesday when the Wildcats square off against Georgia in a dual meet in Athens, Ga., at 2 p.m. ET.
For the first time in 23 years, a new head coach will lead UK as Lars Jorgensen takes over for Gary Conelly, who retired after 22 seasons at the helm. Jorgensen was named Kentucky’s head coach in May after serving as associate head coach last season.
The Wildcats will kick off the season against one of the toughest teams in the country. Georgia’s women’s squad is the defending NCAA and SEC champions, while the men are coming off a top-10 finish nationally and a third-place finish in the conference.
“Racing in Athens will be a great preview for us, since it’s the site of the SEC Championships in February,” Jorgensen said. “It’s early in the season, but it’s a great chance to go down to Athens, they have a wonderful facility, their women’s team is the defending national champions and they also have a very good men’s team. Jack Bauerle is one of the best coaches in the country, so it’s a tough way to open up the season, but we’re also very excited for the challenge.”
The UK men are coming off a 22nd-place national finish in 2013. Then-junior diver Greg Ferrucci placed fourth in all three NCAA diving events and became the first UK diver to earn First-Team All-America honors in one season in all three diving events. The women, who sent then-sophomores Christina Bechtel and Christa Cabot to the NCAA Championships, did not place in 2013.
Wednesday’s matchup between the two SEC squads will have a double distance format. Some of the events will include the 150, 300 and 2,000 freestyle, the 300 individual medley and the 150 and 300 backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
Follow Along From Athens
Fans can follow along with all the action from UGA’s Gabrielsen Natatorium with live results available at GeorgiaDogs.com. Additional updates can be found at @UKSwimDive, the official Twitter account of the UK swimming and diving program.
Georgia boasts one of the richest traditions in collegiate swimming and diving. UGA’s women’s program boasts five national titles, most recently in 2013. The men own three SEC titles, while the women have won 10, including the last four.
146 women and 92 UGA men have been named All-Americans, while at least one Georgia swimmer or diver has claimed an individual NCAA title every year since 1995.
The Georgia women’s team is coming off the program’s fifth national title and a fourth-straight SEC championship. Since Gabrielsen Natatorium opened in 1995, the Lady Bulldogs are 83-1 in their home pool and have won 82 straight meets in Athens.
The Bulldog men finished 10th at the 2013 NCAA Championships and a third-place finish at the SEC Championships. The national finish was Georgia’s 10th top-10 finish in the last 12 seasons.
Last Time Out: Blue/White Scrimmage
Wednesday’s meet at Georgia marks the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign, but the Wildcats unofficially got the season underway with a highly competitive Blue/White Scrimmage last Friday. The white team used a strong comeback to win the spirited intrasquad event, 293-288.
The white team, down by as many as 38 points, mounted a comeback that saw them cut a 28-point deficit to six points in just three events. It came down to the final race, and with wins in the final two races, combined with each team winning one of the two final diving events, the white squad came away with the victory.
A full recap from the annual intrasquad can be found here.
Up Next: UK Hosts Ohio State
UK returns home to host Ohio State on Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. in the Lancaster Aquatics Center. The OSU men finished 12th in the country last season, while the women claimed a 28th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
One of two home meets for the Wildcats, UK also hosts Cincinnati on Feb. 1 at 12 p.m. Admission is free for all Kentucky home swimming and diving meets.
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.
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 meets with four SEC foes and two home competitions. The Wildcats host Ohio State on Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. and Cincinnati on Feb. 1 at noon. Both events will be held at the Lancaster Aquatics Center on the UK campus. The season begins with a dual meet at Georgia on Sept 25, when the Blue and White go up against the defending national champion women’s team and No. 10 men’s team.
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.