Men’s 200 Fly Prelims
The Florida strategy in this men’s 200 fly was clear: push the pace early, and trust the famously-intense Gregg Troy training, as well as their notorious energy-conserving underwaters, to carry them through. They hit that strategy perfectly, as the Gators put one more nail in the Auburn streak with a 1-through-4 finish in this men’s 200 fly, including winning every single circle-seeded heat.
That included a 1:43.20 from Sebastien Rousseau for the top seed and a 1:43.64 from Cameron Martin for the 2nd seed in 1:43.63: both of whom were out in under 50 seconds (as was LSU sophomore Frank Greeff, the 5th seed who was chasing Rousseau). Dan Walace and Marcin Cieslak were both 1:44.3′s for Florida to fill out their results in this A-Final.
Greeff, South Carolina’s star Michael Flach, Mizzou’s Mack Darragh, and Auburn’s Arthur Mendes round out the A-Final; that includes a first-heat surprise from Mendes who’s shown more-than-once at this meet that he’s really settling in to the whole yards swimming scene.
Women’s 200 Fly Prelims
Once again, nobody held back early in this women’s 100 fly, as five different swimmers were out in under 56 seconds. That includes the two fastest starters: Cammile Adams of Texas A&M, the Olympian, and Caroline McElhany also of A&M as the second seed in 1:54.73. They were each out in 55-lows in that race. In the evening, they will be chased by Kelsey Floyd among others; she was 4th in 1:56.27, though won her heat easily so may have held back.
In between is the lone freshman in the final: Georgia’s Hali Flickinger, The Bulldogs actually got two in this final (Lauren Harrington was a 1:56.3 for the 5th seed) to continue to hold serve on what could have been their weakest day of the meet.
Of note, Tennessee’s Brooke Watson dropped 5 seconds to get into the A-Final; the senior is another great piece of the Tennessee 200 fly tradition.
Men’s 100 Back Prelims
Everyone was pushing their underwaters in this men’s 100 back prelim, and a few big names got nipped for passing the 15-meters, but those who nailed it came away with some big results. That included a 45.92 from Auburn’s Kyle Owens: the top time in the country this season (counting only college swimmers).
Tennessee’s Sam Rairden is one of the swimmers who has gotten a huge benefit from the SEC going to the 5-day schedule this year. The result is that the 100 fly and the 100 back are split over two days, and after taking 2nd in a school record in the 100 fly on Thursday night, he’s now the 2nd seed in this 100 back as well with a 46.77. His teammate Sean Lehane is 3rd in 46.80.
Owens is a big favorite to win this race, but Florida will match their A-finals qualifiers thanks to freshman Corey Main tying for 4th in 47.03 (matched by Missouri’s Logan Mosley). Florida, strangely given what they have in their pro groups and women’s side, doesn’t have a lot of great male 100 backstrokers in their college ranks. That’s sort of like what we saw at USC last year, where Dave Salo didn’t have much depth in his men’s college breaststroke group.
South Carolina’s Jay Warner was 6th in 47.39, followed by Georgia freshman Anival Rodriguez (47.61) and Kentucky’s Lucas Gerrotto (47.69).
Women’s 100 Back Prelims
On the women’s side, Texas A&M’s Paige Miller is the early beneficiary of the fly/black split at this year’s meet; in this race, which is her better but which is where she’s always tired at NCAA’s, she took the top seed in 51.55, which is the 4th-fastest time in the country this season. Just behind her, with the 5th-best time, was Florida’s Sinead Russell in 51.95. She’s the third freshman to dip under 52 seconds in this astounding backstroking class.
Missouri’s Dominique Bouchard and Georgia’s Megan Romano tied for 3rd in 52.02.
The Auburn women got two into this final, with junior Emily Bos going a 52.52 for 5th place, and another freshman Jillian Vitarius was 8th in 52.74.
Men’s 100 Breast Prelims
The Missouri men’s breaststroke group has really snuck up on everybody this season. Aside from diving, it’s easily the best group on this team and their biggest scoring, but they got 3 into the A-Final, including a 53.20 from Igor Kozlovskij for the 3rd-seed.
He was bested by Florida’s Matthew Elliott in 53.19; Elliott looked really strong on top of the water. Top honors, though, went to Georgia’s Nic Fink in 52.52. Missouri’s Sam Tierney, the 5th seed after prelims in 53.36, is capable of getting down to that 52-second level though, so don’t think this will be another Georgia runaway.
Women’s 100 Breast Prelims
Scene: a 58.22 flashes on the board. It’s prelims. A new SEC Championship Record by a mile. Breeja Larson? No. Micah Lawrence? Molly Hannis? Yes. Hannis has been a firestarter for the Volunteers since coming to campus two years ago, and she put up a big time with a 58.22 in prelims to break the SEC Championship Record.
Breeja Larson, the Texas A&M Olympian and fastest swimmer ever in the history of this event, came back two heats later and tied that record with a 58.22 of her own. Larson didn’t look like she was working too hard in that prelim (then again, when does she ever), but before you presume she’s just going to turn it on and blow away everyone in finals, remember that Hannis had a faster split on the breaststroke leg of the 200 medley.
Arkansas’ Nikki Daniels smoked her own School Record with a 59.26 for the 3rd seed, while a quartet of Auburn Tigers were also under a minute: the Norberg twins Lindsay and Lauren, sandwiching Lawrence in 59.6. Abby Duncan was 7th in 59.90.