- Dates: Tuesday, February 19th – Saturday, February 23rd (Co-Ed); prelims 10AM/Finals 6PM
- Location: Student Rec Center Natatorioum, Texas A&M University (Central Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: Georgia (results)
- Live Results:
- Live Video (If available): Will be available on either AggieAthletics.com or ESPN3.com
- Championship Central
I’m not going to lie. On a personal level, while I’ll watch any swimming that I can, there is no meet that I’m looking more forward to than the SEC women’s championship, and that’s not just because it’s the one that I’m going to be at. The Texas A&M Aggies are making their debut which makes one of the deepest conferences in swimming even deeper and now with a top 5 that rivals any: including the Pac 12.
Plus, we’ll get to see what Georgia has in them as they try to show the world that the women of Cal are not unbeatable. There’s suddenly a lot of “blood-in-the-water” between them and last year’s runners-up Tennessee after the UT women beat the Bulldogs in a dual meet last weekend. Plus, the number of U.S. Olympians at this meet is ungodly: Breeja, Cammile two-m’s-one-l Adams, Schmitty, Micah Lawrence, the Vreelander, Deisel Beisel; plus at least two more than just missed by the skins of their teeth: Kelsey Floyd and Megan Romano. Plus a ton of international Olympians, like 100 fly semi-finalist Kristel Vourna at ‘Bama.
It’s no wonder that the SEC Championships are a sellout every year – though the A&M organizers will tell you that they’ve never turned someone away from buying a ticket one of their meets, including NCAA’s in 2009. Can we get Dick Vitale out to call this meet? It’s going to be awesome, baby!
- Alabama: Kristel Vourna (junior butterflier); Emma Saunders (freshman freestyler); Paige McCleary (junior diver) – only one senior on the entire roster: Gallo.
- Arkansas: Chelsea Franklin (senior distance freestyler); Anna Mayfield (sophomore freestyler/backstroker); Nikki Daniels (sophomore breaststroker) – distance history, but new coach Sean Schimmel has built sprint group.
- Auburn: Olivia Scott (junior butterflier); Hannah Riordan (senior sprinter); Micah Lawrence (junior breaststroker); Emily Bos (junior backstroker) – Scott has emerged as a potential superstar after Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace’s graduation.
- Florida: Elizabeth Beisel (junior IM’er/All Around B.A.); Natalie Hinds (freshman sprinter); Sinead Russell (freshman backstroker); Ellese Zalewski (junior butterflier) – Hinds leads a refreshed spirit in the Gator sprint relays.
- Georgia: Allison Schmitt (senior mid-d freestyler); Megan Romano (senior free/backstroker); Shannon Vreeland (junior freestyler); Laura Ryan (senior diver) – We could run a list a mile long on stars for this Georgia team; that’s why they’re NCAA Championship contenders
- Kentucky: Mandy Myers (senior butterflier); Laura Dawson (freshman backstroker); Christa Cabot (freshman diver) – The success of a young diving core will make-or-break this meet for the ‘Cats.
- LSU: Sara Haley (senior butterflier); Alex Bettridge (sophomore diver); Torrey Bussey (junior breaststroker); Amber Carter (sophomore sprinter/butterflier) – There’s a lot of good pieces on this team, but they’ll have to put it all together to beat Mizzou.
- Missouri: Dominique Bouchard (senior backstroker); Cassie Cunningham (senior backstroker/freestyler); Rachel Ripley (senior breaststroker); Loren Figueroa (junior diver) – This team isn’t quite at the depth to contend for the conference crown, but they have a few pieces who will make their presence felt in year 1.
- South Carolina: Amanda Rutqvist (junior breaststroker); Rachael Schaffer (junior butterflier/IM’er); Patricia Kranz (sophomore diver) – Amanda Rutqvist could be a part of the breaststroke fun if she returns to her 2011 form.
- Tennessee: Kelsey Floyd (senior butterflier); Faith Johnson (freshman sprinter); Lindsay Gendron (junior Mid-D); Molly Hannis (sophomore breaststroker) – The team that just keeps surprising everybody; the Tennessee Volunteers for a second-straight season are poised for a big run at the SEC Championships after pulling off a big dual meet upset against Georgia.
- Texas A&M: Breeja Larson (junior breaststroker); Cammile Adams (junior butterflier/IM’er); Sarah Henry (sophomore IM’er/freestyler); Lili Ibanez (sophomore freestyler) – Still a very young Aggie team, this championship gets much tougher in the transition from the Big 12 to the SEC.
- Vanderbilt: Jennifer Mann (freshman breaststroker); Chrissy Oberg (sophomore backstroker) – freshman Jennifer Mann has crushed the Vandy recordbooks this year already: wait until she tapers.
200 Fly – Cammile Adams and Kelsey Floyd represent two Olympic Trials finalists in this 200 fly from this summer, with Adams winning that race and heading to London. Adams’ Aggie teammate Caroline McElhany was 5th in the finals as well, giving a 3rd Olympic Trials finalist in the race. The three are the only three A-finalists in the race from last year’s NCAA Championship meet that didn’t graduate, and though Adams has to be the favorite, will be in a dogfight for the win at NCAA’s. Maybe we can see a little chum-in-the-water at SEC’s.
500 Free – Allison Schmitt, Olympic 400 free silver medalist, should be a runaway in this equivalent 500 free, right? I wouldn’t count on it. She only ranks 5th in the conference so far this season. The leader is A&M’s Sarah Henry, who coming off of an injury year exploded in Houston in November with a 4:33.0 – the 5th-best time in history and only three-tenths off of Schmitt’s NCAA Record! I don’t think that anybody is really positive of where that came from, but it’s now out there to be reckoned with. Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel has flipped between the 200 IM and this 500 free as her day 1 NCAA event, but her freestyle has been incredible this season, so let’s hope she swims this race at least at SEC’s. Adams again was also a lifetime best mid-season in this race as well in 4:35.
400 IM – Another Cammile Adams race. She is best recognized for her 200 fly after making the Olympics in that race, but she was also 3rd at trials in the 400 IM. She’s never been as good in yards as she has been in long course, but she’ll see Elizabeth Beisel, Olympic silver medalist, in this race to pull her to new heights. Georgia’s Jana Mangimelli left the program early, which eliminates a third NCAA finalist from last year, but two other Bulldogs Melanie Margalis and Amber McDermott should be 4:05’s as well. This is another race where Henry destroyed her best time mid-season with a 4:03.0; she A-final’ed at NCAA’s in this event as a freshman pre injury as well. In this event last year at SEC’s, Besiel almost broke the American Record.
200 Breast – Another battle between Olympians, A&M’s Breeja Larson, already with the NCAA Record by half-a-second this season, and Micah Lawrence, who swam this race and made a final in London. And don’t forget that up until November, South Carolina’s Amanda Rutqvist was the SEC Record holder in the race from her freshmen season. Larson would seem to have a big advantage based on what she’s already done this season; but at the end of meets, Larson has historically had a little more trouble finishing with this 200 than she’s had timing out her 100 swims. Lawrence has had consistency issues in short course as well, but prior to her redshirt last year was usually very good at this Conference Championship anyway. Larson is so long, it’s unreal how few strokes she takes (as few as 4 per 25), but that can throw off her timing on turns; if she hits her turns, she’ll be an SEC Champion.
200 Back – Beisel is the defending NCAA Champion in this 200 back and leads the SEC this season, but within two-tenths of a second of her are freshman teammate Sinead Russell, the Canadian National Record holder in long course, and Missouri’s Dominique Bouchard, the back-half queen who has shown unprecedented speed in the 100 this year (she’s been a lifetime best of 52.2 already) that she can now lead into her amazing closing speed. Any of the three could take the title at this meet.
Remeber that the SEC is going to a new 5-day schedule this year. That should absolutely affect the outcome of the meet, especially for anybody who is attempting the 100 fly/100 back double – those races are now well spaced out.
200 Medley Relay
800 Free Relay
200 Free Relay
400 Medley Relay
400 Free Relay
Georgia should take the victory thanks to outstanding depth. Texas A&M and Tennessee fighting for 2nd could come down to just a few points. Both teams have good divers, though this season that’s probably an edge to Tennessee (Rebecca St. Germain has been battling injury – we don’t know for sure if she’ll even go on all three events). Divers become huge at conference meets where roster limits really matter, so that will tip this battle in Tennessee’s favorite this season for another runner-up finish.
Florida has a new dimension this year with their freshman class already points-ready in a big way at this meet; that combined with them looking awfully sharp early this year should be enough to hold off Auburn for 4th. We like what Arkansas has done early this year, crushing school records, and will have them sit just ahead of Missouri and LSU for 7th and 8th. Missouri is probably the 6th-best team, but remember that their coach Greg Rhodenbaugh comes from the Frank Busch school and they usually save as much as they can for NCAA’s.
- Texas A&M
- South Carolina