Friday is the penultimate day of the 2014 SEC Championships in Athens, Georgia, and for many fans, this is when the meet really begins to get exciting.
Friday will see the first individual races of the meet in the breaststroke and backstroke disciplines, where we’ll get to see NCAA contenders Olivia Smoliga (Georgia) and Breeja Larson (Texas A&M) in their best races, among others. The defending NCAA Champion in the 200 fly, Olympian Cammile Adams, will also be racing her primary event today.
In total, prelims will have a 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, and men’s platform diving, with the 400 medley relays coming in finals.
- Dates: Tuesday, February 18th – Saturday, February 22nd (Co-Ed); prelims 10AM/Finals 6PM
- Location: Gabrielsen Natatorium, University of Georgia (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: Georgia (4x – women), Florida (men) (results)
- Live Results
- Live Video: ESPN3.com
- Championship Central
Women’s 200 Fly – prelims
We’ve talked all year long how the women’s 200 fly field in the NCAA this year is the deepest we’ve seen in a long time, and this SEC prelims is further evidence of this.
Texas A&M senior Cammile Adams sits in her expected seat as the top seed after a 1:53.75 in the final heat, but there’s a lot of swimmers who aren’t too far behind her.
Georgia sophomore Hali Flickinger swam her best time by a full second for the 2nd seed in 1:54.34 – a time that would have placed her 2nd at last year’s NCAA Championship meet. Texas A&M’s Caroline McElhany was 3rd in 1:55.61, and Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel was 4th in 1:55.61.
Bechtel, who takes her 100 fly out so hard, is actually quite reserved in her 200 fly on the front-half. If she can find her perfect balance between going out hard and finishing hard, she’s an NCAA title contender in both butterfly races.
The youngest A-finalist is Florida freshman Taylor Katz, who was a 1:56.31 for the 5th seed and knocked two-and-a-half seconds off of her mid-season and lifetime best in the event.
Georgia’s Lauren Harrington (the NCAA runner-up) was a 1:57.02 for 6th, followed by her teamate Courtney Peters (1:57.23) and Auburn’s Alex Merritt (1:57.39).
Of note in the B final, as the 10th seed, is LSU freshman Kara Kopcso in 1:58.21. She beat Adams a few weeks ago in the teams’ dual meets (though she suited up for that race to try and get her NCAA cut early). She’s probably headed to Minneapolis regardless, but after dropping two seconds in the 200 IM earlier in the meet, we thought she might be in the A-final here. If she follows pattern, though, she might still have a good number in her for finals here in the 200 fly.
Georgia – 3 up
Florida – 1 up, 2 mid, 1 down
Texas A&M – 2 up, 1 down
Men’s 200 Fly – prelims
A year ago, if you’d said that Georgia’s Chase Kalisz would swim the 200 fly at the SEC Championships, we probably would have bet against you. If you’d said he’d be the top seed coming out of prelims at the SEC Championships, we’d all probably have had a good laugh.
Except, now he is.
A swimmer who coming into this season had never been better than 1:46.8 in the 200 fly, Kalisz is now the top seed headed into tonight’s finals in a 1:42.44, putting him just ahead of Florida senior Sebastien Rousseau in 1:42.50.
With the impressive depth of this event in the SEC, though, he’ll be in a fight to hold onto that top spot – it took a 1:44.4 to make top 8 in this race, which is only eight-tenths of a second slower than it took to make top 8 at NCAA’s last year.
Florida’s Sebastien Rousseau, an All-American in this event, is just behind Kalisz in 1:42.50. LSU’s Frank Greeff is 3rd in 1:43.66, a new lifetime best, and Georgia sophomore Ty Stewart is 4th in 1:43.75.
Florida was able to sneak three into the A-final of this race; that includes Dan Wallace, who’s been on fire all week, as the 5th seed in 1:43.79, and Marcin Cieslak, last year’s NCAA runner-up, in 1:44.49 as the 8th seed. Connor Signorin will be the 9th seed and center lane in the B-final tonight.
Auburn, meanwhile, only has one swimmer into the A-final: Arthur Mendes (1:43.95). They’ll need him to, and he has the opportunity to, move up a lot tonight.
Missouri’s Andrew Phillips is the 7th seed in 1:44.19.
Florida – 3 up, 2 mid, 1 down
Auburn – 1 up, 1 mid, 1 down
Georgia – 2 up, 1 mid
Women’s 100 Back – prelims
Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga has been on-fire at this year’s SEC Championships, but as she and every other backstroker in the country is going to keep running into this year, there’s never an easy path to a 100 yard title in the current environment of the NCAA.
Texas A&M’s Paige Miller, by a tenth, topped Smoliga for the number-one seed coming out of the heats of this event, with a 51.43 to Smoliga’s 51.53.
Combined with Florida’s Sinead Russell (52.46), that’s two Canadians in the top three seeds of this event.
The Auburn women, who came out of Thursday in just 5th place, should make a big run at Tennessee on Friday night, especially with three swimmers getting into this A-final in what is probably their best event. Emily Bos is the 4th seed in 52.49, Aubrey Peacock is the 5th seed in 52.59, and Sarah Reynolds is the 8th seed in 52.85. In addition, sophomore Jillian Vitarius is the top seed in the B-final in 53.04.
Also into the A-final is Tennessee’s Lauren Solernou as the 6th seed in 52.67 and LSU’s Caley Oquist, who was the 7th seed in a new school record of 52.83.
Georgia – 1 up
Florida – 1 up
Texas A&M – 1 up, 2 mid, 1 down
Men’s 100 Backstroke – prelims
There’s not a ton of star-power in this SEC’s men’s 100 backstroke, but like everything else at this meet, there’s a whole lot of depth. That means that the winner of this event in tonight’s final will earn some of that star power, with the top five coming out of prelims being separated by only about four-tenths of a second.
Tennessee’s Sam Rairden is the top seed in 46.01, and Georgia freshman Taylor Dale is 2nd in 46.06. After the senior Rairden, and in addition to Dale, there’s a lot of youth in this final – Auburn freshman Kyle Darmody is the 3rd seed in 46.12; Florida sophomore Corey Main is the 4th seed in 46.28; Tennessee sophomore Sean Lehane is the 5th seed in 46.34; and Florida freshman Jack Blyzinskyj is the 6th seed in 46.54.
The Auburn men, as they look to maintain contact tonight with Florida, did well to get two into the final, with senior James Disney-May joining Darmody as the 7th seed in 46.67. Alabama freshman Connor Oslin was 8th in 46.83.
Among the noteworthy swimmers falling to the B final was Auburn’s Joe Patching and Missouri’s Logan Mosley, who were the top two seeds coming into this 100 back. Auburn could have really done well with a third swimmer in the top 8 from a team scoring perspective.
Florida – 2 up, 1 mid
Auburn – 2 up, 1 mid, 1 down
Georgia – 1 up, 1 mid
Women’s 100 breast – prelims
The Texas A&M Aggies have built a formidable breaststroke reputation, and led by senior and two-time defending NCAA CHampion Breeja Larson, that breaststroke group took three out of the top five seeds in prelims of the 100 yard distance.
Larson was the top seed in 57.76, which is about half-a-second faster than she was in prelims of last year’s NCAA Championship meet. Remember that her lifetime best, which is the fastest 100 breaststroke ever swum by anybody, was done at this met last year in finals.
Her teammates Ashley McGregor (59.55 – 4th seed) and Sycerika McMahon (59.61 – 5th seed) also made the A-final.
Once again, Larson will be challenged tonight by Tennessee’s Molly Hannis, who was a 59.05. Alabama junior Kaylin Burchell is3rd in 59.23, which crushed her season-best by two seconds. She is one of two Crimson Tide swimmers in this A-final, as freshman Bridge Blood dropped over three seconds for the 8th spot in 59.97. It took under a minute to make the A-final here, and Alabama had two swimmers get there, despite nobody in Crimson Tide history having done it coming into this meet.
Completing the field of 8 tonight is Arkansas junior Nikki Daniels, who is in this A-final for the second-straight season, and Florida senior Hilda Luthersdottir, who sits 7th in 59.91.
With Margalis not swimming this 100 breast, this is one of Georgia’s weaker events, but despite nobody in the A-final, they still have four into the B-final.
Georgia – 4 mid
Florida – 1 up
Texas A&M – 3 up, 1 mid
Men’s 100 Breast – prelims
Just after watching his female teammates and their success in the women’s 100 breaststroke, Alabama freshman Anton McKee had a historic swim of his own. He posted a 52.40 to take the top seed in the men’s 100 breaststroke, which moved him to 2nd on Alabama’s all-time list and just .15 behind the school record held by the legendary Vlad Polyakov.
Close behind McKee was World Champs finalist Nic Fink of Georgia (52.41), with Florida’s Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez in 3rd with a 52.62.
Solaeche-Gomez’s teammate Matthew Elliott is the 4th seed in 53.03, and Missouri Tigers Sam Tierney (53.06) and Mark Conroy (53.30) are 5th-and-6th, respectively.
Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt qualified for the final in 7th in 53.31, and Kentucky’s George Greehalgh is 8th in 53.54.
Florida – 2 up, 1 mid
Auburn – 1 up, 2 down
Georgia – 1 up