2015 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships: Day 4 Finals Real-Time Recap

The races on tonight’s Finals session agenda for the 2015 SEC Championships will be electrifying, with the men’s and women’s 200 fly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 400 medley relay.  Keep refreshing this page for event-by-event updates as the Finals unfold tonight. You can also follow our live Twitter account, @SwimSwamLive, for quicker, brief updates on event results.

2015 SEC Championships

  • Tuesday, February 17-Saturday, February 21
  • Auburn, Alabama – James E. Martin Aquatic Center
  • Prelims/Finals W-F 10AM/6PM, Tuesday 10AM/5:30PM (Central time)
  • Defending Champs: Georgia women (5x) Florida men (2x) (results)
  • Live results
  • Live video
  • Championship Central

Catching Up

To kick-off the night, we will be treated to a culmination of talent in the 200 fly event, with last year’s SEC runner-up Chase Kalisz looking to slide into the number one spot in this year’s edition of the race.  He is the top seed coming into tonight’s final, but Tennessee’s Sam McHugh and Auburn’s Hugo Morris look to disrupt his plans, as each of these swimmers A-Final qualifying times were within thirteen one-hundredths of one another.

The women’s prelims saw Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel wrangle in the 2nd-fastest time in the country, only behind her own top time she earned in the fall.  Georgia’s Hali Flickinger was also on fire this morning, pulling in her fastest time of the season.  Flickinger will also see teammates Lauren Harrington, Megan Kingsley and Courtney Weaver in the final, giving Georgia a humongous point punch in this race no matter how the chips fall.

The 100 backstroke races will see Alabama’s Connor Oslin trying to back up his monster morning performance – 45.47 A cut, 2nd in the nation – with a subsequent dominant swim tonight.  Florida and Auburn have Jack Blyzinskiyj and Joe Patching, respectively, standing in his way.  Last year’s SEC champ Kyle Darmody is lurking in a far lane tonight as well.

Olivia Smoliga was the top seed this morning with a 51.66, falling just shy of the NCAA automatic qualifying time, which may give her the oomph she needs to stake her claim on the SEC title ahead of raging Aggie Beryl Gastaldello.    They were the only two swimmers to dip under the 52-mark this morning, but expect more to do so in this heated firefight tonight.

Several candidates for the SEC’s 100 breaststroke title are tucked in both the women’s and men’s finals.  Nic Fink and Sam Tierney are the top two seeds for the men, while Kaylin Burchell and Molly Hannis are the top two seeds for the women.  Plenty of swimmers in the field look to snatch the victory away tonight, including up-and-comer Peter Stevens, the rocket from Auburn on the men’s side.  For the women, both Nikki Daniels and Bridget Blood made it to last year’s A-Final, finishing 7th and 8th, so they have some incentive to top what they did previously and move on up the podium tonight.

The final swimming event of the evening will be the men’s and women’s 400 yard medley relay.  Both Missouri and Georgia women have clocked times this year within hundredths of one another – 3:32.60 for Mizzou and 3:32.64 for Georgia – so look for this one to come down to the wire, per the usual for conference relays.  The men’s race looks good for Georgia as well, with Nic Fink, Pace Clark and other A-Finalists in their arsenal from which to launch their assault.  But, Florida, Auburn – everyone – will be ready to charge and unleash an off-the-hook swim to end the night.

MEN’S 200 FLY – FINALS

Georgia’s Chase Kalisz earned the win and men’s 200 fly SEC title tonight in a time of 1:41.70.  That his fastest time this year.  Kalisz actually had the fourth-slowest opening fifty, but turned it on for the back half, as is his modus operandi, clocking the field’s fastest fifty coming home.

Tennessee freshman Sam McHugh threw down his best time ever tonight, touching in 1:42.01 for second place. That marks the 2nd fastest time in Tennessee school history and both his prelims and finals swims were NCAA automatic qualifying times.  Auburn’s Hugo Morris dropped down a spot from prelims, but also dropped some time (about a tenth) to give him third place in 1:42.11.  Both of Morris’ times were also under the A qualifying standard.

Fourth place tonight went to Georgia junior Tynan Stewart, also last year’s fourth place finisher.  He topped his time from 2014, which was 1:42.93 and earned himself an NCAA A cut in the process, registering a 1:42.11.

1:42.93.  Pace Clark (Georgia, 1:42.33), Dan Wallace (Florida, 1:42.49) touched in fifth and sixth, both clearing the NCAA A standard mark.  Frank Greeff (LSU, 1:43.34) finished in seventh, followed by Kentucky sophomore Kyle Higgins who closed out the A-Final in a 1:43.36.

Of note, winner of the B-Final tonight, Mizzou’s Mack Darragh had a time of 1:42.56, which would have placed him seventh in tonight’s A-Final.  He also earned an A cut tonight, while lowering his school record by almost a second. For perspective, Darragh’s time would have place him 4th in the A-Final at last year’s SEC Championships.

WOMEN’S 200 FLY – FINALS

Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel won the women’s 200 butterfly and gave her school its first SEC championship title since 2007.  Her 1:52.78 time tonight was actually a tad slower than her 1:52.43 from this morning, but it was enough to hold off the charging Bulldog, Hali Flickinger.  Bechtel’s time also would have claimed 2nd in last year’s NCAA Championships, so…yeah, that was pretty fast.

For her part, Flickinger dropped just under a second from her prelims time to offer up a 1:52.88 time tonight, her fastest time of the season and an improvement upon her runner-up time of 1:53.62 from last year’s championships. Flickinger’s time tonight would have also placed her ahead of last year’s NCAA championship 2nd place finisher, Maya Dirado (1:52.99)

Florida’s Taylor Katz dropped a half second from prelims, earning 3rd tonight with a time of 1:54.44 – a solid two spots up from her fifth place finish at the 2014 SECs.  Georgia then claimed the next three spots in the finishing order, led by Courtney Weaver (1:55.33) in 4th place, Megan Kingsley (1:55.34) in 5th place and Lauren Harrington (1:55.56) in 6th place.

LSU’s Kara Kopcso finished in 7th place tonight in a time of 1:56.06, followed by Tennessee sophomore Heather Lundstrom in 1:57.07 for 8th.

MEN’S 100 BACK – FINALS

The Alabama sophomore who dominated the men’s prelims this morning with his 45.47 monster swim was back at it again tonight, lowering his mark by two one-hundredths.  45.45 is the time that earned Connor Oslin the men’s 100 back SEC title tonight and the 2nd fastest time in the country. He was the only swimmer to clear the NCAA “A” cut threshold in tonight’s final.  Oslin also made leaps and bounds over last year’s result at SECs where he placed 6th in a time of 46.77.

Florida’s Jack Blyzinskyj pushed through for second place in a time of 46.01, adding just a couple of tenths from his morning swim, but still faster than his previous best so far this season of 47.09.  Blyzinskyj earned a 5th place finish at last year’s SEC championships with a time of 46.48, highlighting a marked improvement for the sophomore in his second season for the Gators.

Georgia sophomore, Taylor Dale was last year’s SEC title runner-up, but claimed one spot lower in the standings for 2015.  He touched the wall narrowly behind Blyzinskyj in a time of 46.18 to claim 3rd.   In 4th tonight was Auburn’s Joe Patching in 46.36 followed by Gator junior Corey Main in 46.52 for 5th.  Tennessee’s Sean Lehane earned 6th in career-best 46.60 and Florida’s Christian Homer took the 8th spot in 46.73  Last year’s SEC title winner, Kyle Darmody (Auburn), fell a little under the radar this year, cleaning up in 7th place in a time of 46.70, quite a ways off of his title-winning 45.66 from 2014.

WOMEN’S 100 BACK– FINALS

Olivia Smoliga lit the pool on fire tonight, clocking a 51.47 to give her and the Georgia Bulldog team the 2015 SEC title in the women’s 100 back, Georgia’s first SEC title since Neka Mabry in 2001.  Last year’s 50 free and 100 free SEC title winner, Smoliga, blasted two tenths off her prelims swim to give her the victory and also an NCAA automatic qualifying time – the only one of the field to do so.  Her 51.47 time exactly equals that which she clocked at the NCAA Championships, perhaps indicating that she will be able to shave off even more time once that end of season competition arrives.

In 2nd place tonight was Texas A&M’s Beryl Gastaldello, the winner of the 100 fly SEC title already this meet. Gastaldello also improved from her prelims swim, touching the wall in a lifetime best 51.73 tonight, just a tenth shy of the NCAA “A” cut, although her time would have placed her in last year’s NCAA finals.  Gastaldello now earned All-SEC status for the Aggies.

Another freshman, Georgia Bulldog Kylie Stewart took 3rd place tonight in a swift time of 52.12, and, even though Kentucky already won a title tonight with Christina Bechtel’s win in the 200 fly, Danielle Galyer had to settle for a fourth-place finish in this event for the Wildcats in a time of 52.17.  Mizzou’s Hannah Stevens registered a 52.32 for 5th, followed by LSU junior Caley Oquist for 6th.

Another Aggie made tonight’s final and finished 7th, as Laura Norman clocked a 53.21, followed by Auburn’s Jillian Vitarius in 53.65.

MEN’S 100 BREAST – FINALS

There have been nine 4-time winners in SEC history and Georgia’s Nic Fink is now counted among them.  Four SEC titles in a row  – just completely in a league of his own.  In his final SEC championships, Fink topped the field tonight in a commanding 51.5, fittingly taking over the top time in the country.

The previous top-time-in-the-country king was Mizzou’s Sam Tierney, made a late charge to in an attempt to steal Fink’s thunder, but fell just over a tenth of a second short, closing with a time of 51.64.  Tierney’s time lowered his own school record and is still faster than the 51.68 mark he clocked in the fall, which was the NCAA’s previous top time that Fink just dethroned.

3rd place tonight went to Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt, who left it all in the pool, racing to a personal best of 51.93, now ranking him as the 2nd fastest swimmer in Auburn history in the event.  The freshman sensation from Tennessee, Peter Stevens, fared well, earning 4th place at his first SEC championships, touching in a time of 52.07, still under the NCAA automatic qualifying standard.

Last year’s 100 breast runner-up, Alabama’s Anton McKee, fell a few spots this year, registering the 5th place time of 52.67; he was 51.70 at last year’s event.  6th and 7th places went to two talented Auburn freshman, Zach Warner (52.74) and Jacob Molacek (52.78), respectively.  Last year’s bronze medal winner in the event, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez settled for a tie with Molacek for 7th in tonight’s race.

WOMEN’S 100 BREAST – FINALS

A thrilling race took shape in the women’s 100 breast final, where Alabama senior Kaylin Burchell just gave the race her all, touching the wall just .14 ahead of last year’s SEC title runner-up, Molly Hannis.  Burchell actually added a bit of time to her prelims swim, but she still managed to keep it under control and under the NCAA qualifying standard for the awesome win.  Burchell was 3rd at last year’s NCAA championships in a time of 59.17, so she certainly can call this year an improvement of highest proportions.

Molly Hanis was undoubtedly looking for a win tonight, after finishing second to Breeja Larson last year.  The Tennessee senior fell just short, still earning a silver medal once again this year.  In her valiant effort, Hannis also locked an NCAA automatica qualifying time of 59.01 for her efforts. Nikki Daniels from Arkansas swam just off of her prelims time, clocking  59.52 tonight for 3rd place.

Mizzou’s Katharine Ross essentially maintained her prelims time for 4th place in 59.64 and was immediately followed by teammate Abby Duncan who touched just over the minute mark in 1:00.02 for 5th.

Auburn junior Annie Lazor finished in 6th in a time of 1:00.15, followed by Texas A&M junior Ashley McGregor (1:00.45) and Alabama’s Bridget Blood (1:00.52).  All of these women were under the minute mark during this morning’s prelims, while just four dipped under that threshold tonight.

MEN’S 400 MEDLEY RELAY – FINALS

Just when you thought the 2015 SEC Championship meet could not get any faster….it did….by, like, infinity!  The Alabama men’s 400 medley relay simply brought the house down, clocking the country’s fastest time this year – 3:04.22 – while simultaneously earning an NCAA automatic qualifying time and breaking the SEC record.  Their effort tonight replaces Cal’s 3:05.90 set at the UGA Fall invitational in December by over a second.  Here are the side-by-side splits of each endeavor:

Cal Men’s 3:05.90 from 12/05/2014                           Alabama Men’s 3:04.22 

Ryan Murphy – 45.30                                                                Connor Oslin – 45.45
Chuck Katis – 51.99                                                                   Anton McKee – 51.95
Justin Lynch – 45.81                                                                  Brett Walsh – 45.49
Seth Stubblefield – 42.80                                                         Kristian Gkolomeev – 41.33

The last 2 legs for the Tide let Alabama pull away, with Gkolomeev making the biggest impact – almost a full second and half over Cal’s freestyle leg.  Tonight, Gkolomeev just absolutely struck terror into sprinters everywhere with his staggering split.

Important to note is that the top 7 men’s relays from tonight all earned NCAA automatic qualifying times (listed below), with several earning school records in the process, proving that, even at the end of the day, relays bring out the best in each and every swimmer.

2nd – Florida, 3:05.09
3rd – Auburn, 3:06.01
4th – Georgia, 3:06.26
5th – Tennessee, 3:06.86
6th – Mizzou, 3:07.15

WOMEN’S 400 MEDLEY RELAY – FINALS

Tonight’s top 3 finishers on the women’s side all finished with NCAA “A” cut-clearing times, led by Tennessee’s foursome of Amanda Carner, Molly Hannis, Harper Bruens, and Faith Johnson.  The team combined for a 3:31.47 to rank them 4th in the country at this point.  Splits for the fab four are below:

Amanda Carner – 52.95
Molly Hannis – 58.66
Harper Bruens – 52.21
Faith Johnson – 47.65

The Aggies came in 2nd place tonight in a time of 3:32.93 with the help of speedster Beryl Gastaldello’s 48.04 fly split.  The other swimmers certainly also held their own against the fierce field, with Laura Norman leading off in 53.76, Franko Jonker splitting 59.79 for breast and Sammie Bosma clocking 48.04 for the anchor.

3rd place team, Georgia, actually swam faster splits on three out of the four legs, but it is very difficult to compete and contain Molly Hannis’ breaststroke leg.  Georgia had Olivia Smoliga leading off in 52.91, followed by Annie Zhu in 1:01.42, then Lauren Harrington (52.17) and Chantal Van Landeghem (47.51).  All splits are fairly comparable, save for the breaststroke where Hannis gained about two and a half seconds on the Bulldogs at least tonight.

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Congrats to former Pingry Great, Nic Fink, and the Georgia Team.

You always find great swim talent in NJ.

All the best,

David Pease
Former Coach Summit High School Summit, NJ

About Loretta Race

Loretta Race

Loretta grew up outside Toledo, OH, where she swam age group and high school. Graduating from Xavier University, she stayed in the Cincinnati, OH area and currently resides just outside the city in Northern KY.  Loretta got back into the sport of swimming via Masters and now competes and is …

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