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

Day 4 continues at the 2015 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships with more phenomenal swimming in the queue.  Today we will see last night’s 400 IM SEC champ, Chase Kalisz, back in action against a tough field in the men’s 200 fly.  He will have threats left and right, primarily from teammates Tynan Stewart and Pace Clark.

The women’s 200 fly will see last night’s 100 fly runner-up, Kentucky Wildcat Christina Bechtel take on Georgia powerhouses Hali Flickinger and Lauren Harrington, as they try to keep edging the Bulldogs further and further out of reach in their team title pursuit.

The 100 backstroke sprints several schools are well-represented this morning, as the Missouri men have five swimmers, Auburn has four and Alabama and Florida have three swimmers each in the top three heats.  Look for Georgia’s Taylor Dale and Tennessee’s Sean Lehane to potentially sneak in and make a move as well. The women’s race has several exciting freshman in the mix for their 100 backstroke race, including Georgia’s Kylie Stewart, on-fire Texas A&M’s Beryl Gastaldello, and Kentucky’s Bridgette Alexander, just to name a few.  Anyone could potentially step up in this big race to set-up just the right lane to score big tonight.

And, finally, we will see Mizzou’s Same Tierney, Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt and Georgia’s Nic Fink throw blows this morning in the 100 breaststroke sprint.  Tierney leads the field seed-wise, with his 51.68, but he swam that time back in November and hasn’t dipped under 52.0 since.  For the women, Tennessee senior and U.S. Winter Nationals champion Molly Hannis will take on an impressive field as well, battling the likes of Auburn’s Annie Lazor, Mizzou’s Katharine Ross and Arkansas’ Nicki Daniels.

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 (5x) (results)
  • Live results
  • Live video
  • Championship Central

Catching Up


You know the field is fast when the slowest time among the men’s 200 fly top 8 is 1:43.64, but that’s how the chips fell this morning among the stacked heats.  Georgia’s Chase Kalisz leads the pack, but just barely, with a time of 1:42.14, the 5th-fastest time in the nation so far this year and faster than the 1:42.22 he clocked at last fall’s UGA Invite.

Second seed going into the finals is Hugo Morris from Auburn, who had a studly 1:42.25 swim to earn an A cut and capture the third-fastest time in the event in Auburn’s history. He was closely followed up by Tennessee freshman Sam McHugh, whose time of 1:42.27 gives him the 3rd seed while simultaneously shaving two entire seconds off his 1:44.30 seed time. With his efforts, McHugh is now the 2nd fastest 200 flyer in Tennessee history.  Another notable is LSU’s Frank Greeff whose 1:43.15 time is just one on-hundredth off of the 1:43.14 school record and also within reach of the 1:42.85 “A” standard.

Remaining top 8 include Georgia’s Pace Clark and Tynan Stewart, Florida’s Dan Wallace and Kentucky’s Kyle Higgins.


Just bananas…simply bananas.  The women’s 200 fly was a scorcher, with Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel clocking the field’s swiftest time and her own second fastest time of the season with a 1:52.43.  She now owns the top 2 times in the country.  Remember, Bechtel was fourth at last year’s SEC championships with a much slower 1:55.06 for her efforts, so lights out tonight for this senior.

Runner-up finisher this morning was Georgia’s Hali Flickinger, who represents one of four Bulldogs who made tonight’s A-Final.  1:53.97 was Flickinger’s time, which now ranks her fourth in the country.  She will be joined by teammates Lauren Harrington (3rd), Megan Kingsley (5th) and Courtney Weaver (6th).

Also in tonight’s top 8 is Florida’s Taylor Katz, whose 1:54.93 places her as the fourth seed and also the fourth-fastest time in her program’s history.  Tennessee’s Heather Lundstrom and LSU’s Kara Kopcso round out the top eight in seventh and eighth positions, respectively.


The excitement from the first men’s and women’s events certainly did not stop, as the 100 back absolutely brought terror and triumph to the pool this morning.  Alabama’s Connor Oslin ripped a 45.47 to clear the NCAA A standard, while also crushing his school’s previous mark.  He also now owns the 2nd-fastest time in the nation only behind Cal’s Ryan Murphy. Oslin’s mark is not too terribly off of Ryan Lochte’s SEC record of 45.19 from 2005….just saying.

Florida claimed seed #2 with sophomore Jack Blyzinskiyj blasting a 45.81, for the 4th-fastest time in the country and also the 3rd-fastest time ever for the Gators.  Blyzinskiyj already made one individual final this meet, having finished 5th in the 100 fly yesterday.  Auburn sophomore Joe Patching also did his thing, clocking a 46.08 for the 5th time in the nation and the #3 seed for tonight’s race.

Additional qualifiers for tonight’s A-Final include Sean Lehane (Tennessee), Taylor Dale (Georgia), Christian Homer (Florida), Corey Main (Florida) and Kyle Darmody (Auburn).


Swift swims all around in the women’s 100 backstroke, led by Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga’s time of 51.66, which is just .03 shy of the NCAA automatic qualifying time.  This time positions Smoliga also as the 5th-fastest in the country so far this season.

She is immediately followed by Aggie Beryl Gastaldello, who knows all about speed, already having the fastest 50 fly split in history from her medley, her 100 fly SEC title-winning 100 fly from last night and now her lightning-fast 51.97 to be the only other swimmer to dip under the 52.0-mark in this morning’s prelims.

Smoliga’s teammate Kylie Stewart snagged the third seed with her time of 52.29, while Mizzou will have lone swimmer Hanna Stevens to represent the team as the 4th seed going into the finals.

Kentucky’s Danielle Galyer broke her own 100 backstroke school record with her 52.58 time clocked this morning, earning her the 5th seed.  Also making tonight’s A-Final is LSU’s Caley Oquist (52.76) in 6th, Texas A&M’s Laura Norman (52.87) in 7th and Auburn’s Jillian Vitarius (52.93) in the 8th position.


Five of last year’s A-Final qualifiers are back in the hunt again this year.  The 2014 SEC 100 breaststroke champion is the 2nd seed going into tonight’s finals, as Nic Fink clocked an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 51.84 to finish behind Mizzou’s Sam Tierney.  Tierney threw down a wicked 51.79, which is just off the 51.68 he clocked last fall to put him in the top spot for the highly anticipated final.  In the 2014 battle, Tierney finished 5th in a time of 53.03.

Tennessee’s Peter Stevens (freshman), who now holds the fastest 50y breaststroke split in history from his medley relay performance earlier this week, also clocked an NCAA automatic qualifying time in 51.88 to seed him third for the final.  He also now sits as 3rd-fastest in the country behind Tierney’s two times.

Another freshman will stake a claim in tonight’s big race, as Auburn’s Jacob Molacek charged to the wall in 52.45 to drop over a second off of his seed-time (53.92).  His swim also now ranks as the third-fastest in his program’s rich history.  Molacek will be joined by two teammates in the thrilling contest, as Michael Duderstadt and Zach Warner also qualified for the A-Final in 5th and 7th positions, respectively.  Duderstadt finished fourth at last year’s edition of this championship race.

Florida senior Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, who was last year’s bronze-medal winner in the A-Final, actually tied Duderstadt for 5th out of this morning’s prelims, each earning the time of 52.54. Alabama will have one swimmer represented in tonight’s race with Anton McKee finishing 8th in 52.74.  McKee was last year’s runner-up, so he definitely poses a threat to Fink, Stevens, Tierney and the rest of the breaststroke thoroughbreds.


Alabama’s Kaylin Burchell just blasted a monster swim this morning, clocking a 58.48 for an NCAA automatic qualifying time.  She was the only swimmer under the 59-mark this morning and also crushed her own previous school record in the process.

Molly Hannis finished second to Burchell this morning, touching the wall in an uber-fast time of her 59.38. Hannis is the U.S. Winter Nationals 100 breaststroke champion and also currently holds the fastest time in the country from that race (58.42), so she will absolutely give Burchell a heck of a race for the SEC title tonight.

Arkansas managed to sneak a swimmer into the finals in a big way with 3rd-seeded Nikki Daniels, who swam a 59.46 for her best time of the season.   Katherine Ross and Abby Duncan are headed to the A-Final for Mizzou, as they finished in the 4th and 5th seeded positions, respectively.

Annie Lazor also made it back for the elite final tonight, finishing 6th with a time of 59.82 – the 3rd best time in Auburn history.  Tying Lazor was last year’s 8th-place finisher Bridget Blood from Alabama.  The last swimmer of prelims to finish under the minute mark, as Texas A&M’s Ashley McGregor earned a 59.83 to creep into the final spot for the top heat.

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5 years ago

Is it must me, or does anyone else not like this uber-long 5 day meet format? Is there difficulty then adjusting to the shortened 3 day NCAA championship meet?

Coach Chackett
Reply to  PAC12BACKER
5 years ago

If there is, advantage to Pac12 then.

SEC teams may be able to post faster times with less crowded days.

Reply to  Coach Chackett
5 years ago

With a co- Ed meet and 22 teams (12 women and 10 men) it would be impossible to swim a 3 1/2 day meet with manageable sessions, including diving. Meet is actually 4 1/2 days with only a finals session for 2 relays and 1 diving event the first day. This may be a preview of what an eventual combined gender NCAA’s will look like.

Reply to  Swim3057
5 years ago

The Big East used to do it. They had 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams in 2007 (before Rutgers cut their men’s program and Syracuse cut both). The meet never went particularly long and there was a separate diving well so divers could start warming up while swimming was still going on.

Reply to  Swim3057
5 years ago

It’s entirely possible to run a Co-Ed SEC meet in 3.5 days. Other than the past two years, that’s exactly what they did. It wasn’t too long ago when they ran a 3 day meet, and once again, were just fine. Even though the you aren’t swimming as many events in a shorter period of time, I could argue that what makes you tired the length of the meet and all that comes with that. Wake up swims, warming up, racing, warming down, getting to bed late after the finals sessions, and the overall emotion that you put in for your conference meet over and over again wears you down. 3 days is hard, but I’m guessing that doing all… Read more »

5 years ago

Kelsi Worrel has the fastest 50fly split in history, not Gastaldello

5 years ago

I guess it’s a trade off. Im assuming you get more time in between your swims and also probably less swims per day. Swimmers also swim for 3-4 days out of 5 and one of them is a relay only day. Just being in the environment might be tiring i guess.

Reply to  calswimfan
5 years ago

From personal experience, the 5 day format is pretty brutal. Swimmers generally have 1-2 off days, but those days are still spent on the deck and are mentally and emotionally draining. I was always pretty cashed by the last day, regardless what races I swam.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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