It’s Friday night in College Station, Texas, and the second-to-last evening session of the 2013 SEC Championships are sure to please. The women’s 200 fly final is a matchup of three Olympic Trials finalists, which should be the race of the night. Maybe most importantly, watch Breeja Larson get pushed in a 100 yard breaststroke like we haven’t seen her pushed in a long time, from Tennessee sophomore Molly Hannis.The lineup tonight will feature the 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, 400 medley relays, and our first shot at platform diving as the women go off the high-dives.
Men’s 200 Fly Finals
This men’s 200 fly final was a story of two different styles and two different approaches. Whereas junior Sebastien Rousseau was out very hard, like most of the Florida Gators have been in this meet, his teammate and classmate Marcin Cieslak lurked. Rousseau was out in 49.1; Cieslak lurked. Rousseau was ahead of SEC Record pace at the 150, a second better than he was in the morning, and Cieslak lurked. 3 yards to go, Cieslak lurked. Then, Cieslak pounced, taking the victory over Rousseau in 1:42.17 – .01 seconds ahead of his teammate Rousseau.
Still, a 1-2-3 finish from Florida (along with senior Cameron Martin in 3rd in 1:43.04) fired up the Florida team, who has looked focus on the team battle this entire meet.
South Carolina’s Michael Flach took 4th in 1:43.42, and Florida’s Dan Wallace was 5th in 1:44.18. The entire A-Final was faster in the evening than in the morning, all the way down to Auburn’s Arthur Mendes in 1:45.46, who is really settling into yards swimming nicely at this meet after only about 7 weeks in the United States.
Women’s 200 Fly Final
As the Aggies balance in limbo for the next few seasons, junior (Olympian) Cammile Adams won the 200 fly in 1:52.48: a new SEC Record, though not a Texas A&M School Record. As their first year in the conference, this is one of the handful of records that will stand like this for now, though with only a tenth to go to catch her swim from NCAA’s last year, it shouldn’t last too long.
The old record stood at 52.53, set by former Florida Gator Jemma Lowe in 2009.
This swim was a big psychological edge for the Aggies, as Adams and her teammate Caroline McElhany went 1-2, with the latter touching in 1:53.24. That means they both beat out fellow Olympic Trials finalist Kelsey Floyd from Tennessee, who was a 1:54.78. Floyd was among one of the few competitors for these top two spots at NCAA’s now that Katinka Hosszu is graduated. If Jasmine Tosky swims it, she could compete, perhaps an Amanda Nugent from West Virginia, but at least mentally, the Aggies will sit in a good place headed toward March.
Men’s 100 Back Final
Auburn’s Kyle Owens was pushed a little harder than I think he wanted to be in this men’s 100 back final, but at the final touch the times were a lot further apart than the eyeballs reported them to be as Kyle Owens won in 45.60. That lowers his nation-leading time in the 100 back, although still no college swimmer has bettered the twin 45.3’s of high school swimmers Jack Conger and Ryan Murphy this season.
But I digress. The man that pushed Owens the whole way was Tennessee’s Sam Rairden. He and Owens split almost dead-even, aside from the second 25 yards where Owens got almost his entire lead. Rairden got a 2nd-place finish for the second-straight night, after doing the same in the 100 fly on Thursday. As we mentioned this morning, the new 5-day SEC schedule that split up the 100 fly and the 100 back really benefited him (though maybe not as much as we saw in the next race, the women’s 100 back).
Missouri’s Logan Mosley took 3rd in 46.74 as the Tigers have some good momentum going on Friday (as do the Auburn, Tigers, and the LSU, Tigers. It’s a Tigers kind of night).
Florida’s Corey Main, their lone A-Finalist, represented well in 46.84 as just a freshman, with South Carolina’s Jay Warner taking 5th in 47.26.
Seah Lehane from Tennessee tied Kentucky’s Lucas Gerotto for 6th; noting that the freshman, Lehane, looked very good as he sets up for his preferred 200 backstroke later in the meet.
LSU’s Michael Young won the B-Final in 47.64.
As alluded to, A&M’s Paige Miller, another swimmer who does the 100 fly/100 back double at NCAA’s, benefited big by the 5-day schedule. She took a win in the women’s 100 back in 51.62 to just miss her school record of 51.55 set in prelims.
Georgia’s Megan Romano was 2nd in 51.87 – about half-a-second off of her best time from NCAA’s last year. Other than her 20.99 50 freestyle split on the 200 free relay, there hasn’t been much at this meet that indicates that Romano is shaved and tapered, meaning we should see some more records go down at NCAA’s.
Florida’s Sinead Russell took 3rd in 51.95, matching exactly her prelims swim, and Missouri’s Dominique Bouchard was a 52.08 for 4th. More Missouri momentum as Cassie Cunningham won the B-Final in 52.31; that was about half-a-second faster than she was in prelims, and a personal best for her.
Men’s 100 Breast Final
Georgia sophomore Nic Fink is now two-for-two in the SEC 100 breast in his career, as he pulled away for an NCAA Automatic Qualifying Time and another win for the young Georgia men’s team in 52.34. That means that the record of the great Jeremy Linn lives one more year, since 1997 in 51.86.
Missouri’s Igor Kozlovskij, not their A breaststroker coming into the season, took 2nd in 52.89, followed by LSU’s Andrei Tuomola in 53.02 and another Missouri swimmer Mark Conroy in 53.07. The school’s record holder, sophomore Sam Tierney, was 7th in 53.43.
Note the result of the lone freshman in any of the finals, LSU’s Gabriel Rooker who was 3rd in the B-Final in 53.85. Things don’t get any easier for him as there’s youth all over the place in this event in this conference, but this swim along with a 52.9 relay split says that he’ll be mixing things up next year.
Women’s 100 Breast Final
And then the bomb dropped. Tennessee’s Molly Hannis looked like she was going to give A&M’s Breeja Larson a run in this 100 breaststroke after 50 yards; Larson was out a bit off of her record pace, while Hannis was well under it in 27.0. Larson took the lead away in the third 25 though, and it was all clean water en route to a new U.S. Open, American, NCAA, SEC, and Texas A&M Record of 57.43. (Read more about that record here).
Senior Lindsey Norberg from Auburn surprised to win the race-within-the-race between the four Auburn finalist, touching 3rd overall in 59.43, a big-time personal best. She was only the third among the Auburn breaststrokes coming in, and now she’s third-best in the SEC. Her teammates Micah Lawrence (59.74) was 5th, and twin sister Lauren Norberg was 7th in 59.97.
Georgia’s Melanie Margalis took 4th in 59.73, with Florida’s Hilda Luthersdottir winning the B-Final in 1:00.15. She’s the biggest key, and question mark, to their medley relay, and that swim should clear up a lot of those questions.
Women’s Platform Final
Anybody who thinks that diving doesn’t belong with college swimming needs to have watched this platform final at SEC’s. The crowd was into it, and the divers were giving them every reason to cheer. Tennessee’s Tori Lamp, who has been up-and-down at this meet, came through huge with a new SEC Record score of 341.90. She won the war, but it was the hometown diver Jesse McCaulay who won a big battle with the crowd. She is just now coming into her own, out of the impressive diving program in nearby the Woodlands, Texas, who earned a single perfect 10 on her 5th dive. It was dropped as her highest score, but the crowd erupted when they saw the number flash on the scoreboard.
Lamp, however, overwhelmed with a much more difficult slate of dives as the victory by 13 points.
Georgia’s Laura Ryan, just as A&M was starting to make a dent in her team’s lead, scored a clutch 319.95 for 3rd to keep the Bulldogs comfortable headed into the meet’s final day.
Men’s 400 Medley Relay
The Auburn men have a really outstanding medley relay this year, and posted a 3:05.92, the second-fastest time in the country, to win handily tonight in College Station. That included a very controlled 46.0 split from Arthur Mendes and a 41.33 anchor from Marcelo Chierighini: an all-Brazilian back-half. What scary is that even with how good this Auburn relay is with no weakness and a whole lot of strength, Cal was still two seconds faster at NCAA’s last year.
Florida took 2nd in 3:07.80, including a 45.78 on the butterfly leg from Marcin Cieslak. Tennessee, who unfortunately couldn’t put Rairden on both the backstroke and butterfly legs, was 3rd in 3:09.20 and Georgia was 4th in 3:09.77.
Women’s 400 Medley Relay
The math worked out well for Texas A&M in this race, after winning the 100 back, the 100 breast, taking a 3rd in the 100 fly, and having an anchor Lili Ibanez who’s swimming very well. The question that remained was which records would be broken. Yet another SEC Conference record went down, as the Aggies put up a 3:28.93. That’s also the best time in the country by a full second. That included a 57.2 split for Larson on the breaststroke, a 51.6 for McElhany on the fly, and a 47.8 for Ibanez on the anchor. That atoned for Miller not being quite as fast as she was for the individual event win.
That A&M relay still doesn’t have a single senior on it (it feels like we’ve been saying that for about 3 years now).
Georgia, on a 47.74 anchor from Allison Schmitt, was 2nd in 3:31.34, followed by the defending champs from Tennessee in 3:31.80. Molly Hannis, likely exhausted from her emotional breaststroke battle, split just a 59.1 on their breaststroke leg.
Team Standings with 1 day to go
Both team races are fairly comfortable. With now over a 200 point margin ahead of Auburn, the Florida men would need a real disaster to lose their lead. It looks like the Auburn streak might finally come to an end after 16 years. Auburn does look like they’re in a good position for 2nd; though Georgia has won a lot of races, Auburn’s depth and diving still has them solidly in 2nd.
On the women’s side, Texas A&M is just close enough to give a little intrigue to the battle. Still, with events like the 1650 free and the 100 free, where Georgia should be so good, they should be in line for their 4th-straight title.
1. Georgia 1058
2. Texas A&M 985
3. Florida 852.5
4. Tennessee 810
5. Auburn 657
6. LSU 432
7. Arkansas 406
8. Missouri 391
9. Kentucky 326.5
10. Alabama 264
11. South Carolina 192
12. Vanderbilt 140
1. Florida 1038
2. Auburn 823.5
3. Georgia 679
4. Tennessee 570.5
5. Missouri 531
6. LSU 530.5
7. Texas A&M 517.5
8. South Carolina 444.5
9. Kentucky 367.5
10. Alabama 302