The 2015 SEC Championships are just one session from their conclusion in Auburn, Alabama, with the Georgia women and Florida men out front in search of repeat conference titles.
On the men’s side, it’s Georgia trying to track down the Gators, with a solid group of 1650 freestylers led by Matias Koski and Kevin Litherland, plus the top-seeded 200 breaststroker in Nic Fink.
Florida leads and features Mitch D’Arrigo in that 1650, plus the top-seeded 100 freestyler in freshman Caeleb Dressel. Dressel will show down with Alabama’s Kristian Gkolomeev in that event, perhaps the most anticipated race of the night.
Also holding a top seed is Tennessee’s Sean Lehane in the 200 back, and Evan Pinion is the top incoming 1650 freestyler.
The Georgia women look poised to defend their title, with Hali Flickinger (200 back) holding a top seed. Florida’s Natalie Hinds was the top 100 freestyler, and the two teams will battle in the 1650 free with Gator Jess Thielmann and Bulldogs Amber McDermott and Brittany MacLean.
Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry should also be in that hunt.
Tenneessee’s Molly Hannis is the other top seed, leading the 200 breast over Aggie Ashley McGregor.
Keep refreshing this page for event-by-event updates from all the action. You can get briefer-but-quicker updates on our brand-new live Twitter account @SwimSwamLive.
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
Men 1650 Free
Georgia junior Matias Koski came up with a huge swim to kick off the night, winning the final heat of the 1650 free with a 14:38.72 that moves him to the top of the national rankings. Koski started to break away from Florida’s Mitch D’Arrigo and Arthur Frayler at the 200 mark and only extended his lead from there.
D’Arrigo wound up second in 14:39.90, and Frayler was 14:40.05 for third place
The top finisher out of the early heats was South Carolina freshman Tom Peribonio, who improved his lifetime-best by a whopping 28 seconds to go 14:50.25. That time held up for 4th overall, and his teammate Akaram Mahmoud finished 5th in 14:51.27. That’s showing the great impact of former Virginia coach Mark Bernardino, who is coaching the South Carolina distance swimmers now.
Georgia freshman Kevin Litherland went 14:54.79 for sixth, and Tennessee rookie David Heron was 14:55.82. Fellow Vol Evan Pinion, the top seed coming into the race, really fell off his seed time, going just 15:01.29 for 10th place. Pinion, the NCAA leader prior to this weekend, would appear to be swimming right through this meet in favor of NCAAs.
Rounding out the top 8 was Georgia’s Garrett Powell, who went 14:59.56.
With that race, the top two continue to distance themselves from the field in team points. Florida leads at 1062 and Georgia is second back at 926. Stranger things have happened, but it would take some major developments for the Georgia men to run down Florida for the title by the end of tonight.
Women 1650 Free
Florida’s Jess Thielmann looks to be over her sophomore slump, continuing a lights-out junior season with the SEC title in the 1650 free. The British Gator went 15:47.95, a new season-best that puts her #2 in the nation for the season.
Georgia senior Amber McDermott and Texas A&M senior Sarah Henry filled in after that, going 15:49.79 and 15:53.43, respectively.
The top finisher out the morning heats was Tennessee’s Madeline Tegner, who went 15:59.64, a drop of about 17 seconds from her incoming time. That earned her fourth place overall, nipping last year’s champion Brittany MacLean out of Georgia (16:09.15).
A great event for the Bulldogs saw sophomore Rachel Zilinskas take sixth in 16:14.49. Despite several top swimmers saving a full rest for nationals, Georgia has been unstoppable so far this week, and should be in very good shape to contend for a repeat NCAA title.
Auburn’s top finisher was 7th-place Ashley Neidigh (16:15.78), and the top 8 closed with Tennessee Vol Morgan Dickson (16:15.89).
Though the battle for the team win is all but sealed at this point, Florida did make a small run at Texas A&M for second. The Gators still trail by 126.5, though, and will need a huge event or two to get back into the hunt.
Men 200 Back
Tennessee’s Sean Lehane became the 4th man under 1:40 in the 200 back this NCAA season, going 1:39.65 for the conference title. The Vol junior actually trailed Auburn’s Joe Patching at the 100-mark, but closed hard for the win.
Missouri’s Carter Griffin also passed up Patching late and nearly cracked 1:40 himself. The Tiger was 1:40.17 for second place, with Patching finishing third in 1:40.46.
Alabama took fourth and fifth, with Connor Oslin going 1:40.77 and Christopher Reid 1:40.86 as the entire top 5 got under 1:41.
Georgia’s Tynan Stewart (1:42.35) and Jared Markham (1:42.91) came next, with Florida’s lone championship final entrant Corey Main taking eighth in 1:43.16.
In the B final, Texas A&M freshman Brock Bonetti broke the school record to win with a 1:42.11, the 6th-fastest time of the final.
Women 200 Back
The Kentucky Wildcats earned their second event title in as many days with sophomore Danielle Galyer‘s outstanding 1:50.95 in the 200 back.
That shatters Galyer’s previous personal best by over a second and a half – Galyer skipped the 1:51s entirely, dropping from a 1:52.59 this morning to her 1:50 tonight.
The 200 back is an insanely crowded race at the national level, but this breakout swim gives Galyer a shot at an NCAA A final appearance in the event.
Top prelim qualifier Hali Flickinger was second for UGA, going 1:51.68, a tenth faster than this morning.
Texas A&M freshman Lisa Bratton touched out Florida’s Ashlee Linn for third, 1:52.60 to 1:52.62, and Georgia’s tough freshman Kylie Stewart was just behind in 1:52.82.
Arkansas got some A final representation with Anna Mayfield‘s 1:53.85, before another freshman, Kentucky Wildcat Bridgette Alexander, took 7th in 1:54.26. Florida’s Georgia Hohmann rounded out the A final in 1:54.50.
Men 100 Free
Already ranked 1 and 2 in the NCAA, Alabama’s Kristian Gkolomeev and Florida’s Caeleb Dressel further improved their times in the final, becoming the first NCAA men all year to break 42.
Gkolomeev moved up from the second seed to pull of his second major sprint free win of the week, going 41.68. That’s just about two tenths off the SEC meet record set by Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini last season.
Dressel, meanwhile, broke his own 17-18 National Age Group record for the second time in a day, going 41.90. That’s also a new Florida school record for the freshman sensation.
Auburn’s Kyle Darmody, who was last year’s freshman sensation in the sprints, went 42.44, just a tick off his lifetime-best. Darmody will look for another outstanding NCAA meet like he had a year ago to catch up to Gkolomeev and Dressel.
He led a quartet of Auburn Tigers, with Arthur Mendes fourth (42.62), and freshman Jacob Molacek breaking into the 42s for the first time in his career with a 42.85 for fifth. Peter Holoda rounded out the Auburn party in 43.13 for sixth.
Rounding out the A final were Mizzou’s Michael Chadwick (43.19) and Alabama’s Brett Walsh (45.77). That time for Walsh was a full two seconds off his prelims swim – either he was saving up for tonight’s 400 free relay, or the junior will have to find his speed again for Alabama to have a shot at another relay title.
Women 100 Free
Florida junior Natalie Hinds found another tenth of a second between prelims and finals, dropping to a 47.26 to power away with the 100 free title. Hinds topped the field by a good half second, with Georgia’s Chantal van Landeghem (47.95) the only other woman under 48.
Van Landeghem’s teammate Maddie Locus was third, going 48.17 before things dropped off to a very tight bunch at the end of the heat.
Auburn’s Allyx Purcell moved up for prelims to take fourth in 48.82, leapfrogging two spots even though she actually added two tenths. Tennessee’s Harper Bruens was right behind in 48.84, leading an extremely tight finish with A&M’s Sammie Bosma (48.96) and Arkansas’ Maddie Monroe (48.98). Tennessee’s Faith Johnson slipped some from her prelims swim to go 49.15 for 8th.
Defending conference champ Olivia Smoliga won the B final, going 48.90.
Men 200 Breast
Georgia’s Nic Fink couldn’t quite match his prelims time of 1:51.58, but he still won the 200 breast easily in 1:51.79. Fink, the new NCAA leader in the event, tore away over the back half, though he actually trailed at the 100.
It was South Carolina freshman Nils Wich-Glasen who went out like a machine, turning at 53.87 at the 100. He lost ground to Fink over the back half, but held on for second in a gutsy swim, topping 2014 SEC champ Anton McKee of Alabama 1:52.81 to 1:52.92.
Missouri’s Sam Tierney dropped his prelims swim by a second, going 1:53.86 for fourth, though he, like Fink and McKee, doesn’t appear to be fully rested for conference.
Florida’s senior duo of Eduardo Solaeche (1:54.31) and Matt Elliott (1:54.42) came next, just ahead of Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt (1:54.68) and Tennessee’s Tristan Slater (1:54.99).
With two events left to go, Auburn trails Georgia by about 100 for second place, with Florida still leading handily. The best battle in the pool looks to be Alabama vs Tennessee for fourth. The Crimson Tide lead 826.5 to 822, and still have a tough 400 free relay lined up to close the meet.
Women 200 Breast
Alabama got its second win of the night from senior Kaylin Burchell, who came from behind in a big way to win the 200 breaststroke. Burchell trailed by well over a second at the 100 mark, but reeled in the field over the final 50 yards with an insane 32.59 split (her middle two 50s were 32.9 and 33.2).
Burchell, part of an Alabama program that is rapidly rising in the SEC, finished in 2:08.08, overcoming top-seeded Molly Hannis of Tennessee. Hannis was 2:08.31 for second.
Georgia’s Annie Zhu went 2:08.94 for third place as the Bulldogs continue to pad their stats en route to another SEC title. Zhu topped Texas A&M junior Ashley McGregor (2:09.20) and Auburn’s Annie Lazor (2:09.24).
Former Auburn Tiger and current Missouri transfer Abby Duncan was sixth, going 2:10.67, and A&M’s Franko Jonker (2:11.00) and Nikki Daniels (2:11.88) rounded out the A final.
Alabama won the B final as well, getting a 2:11.01 from sophomore Bridget Blood.
Men Platform Diving
Auburn put together a ferocious comeback over the final individual event, with senior Fraser McKean scoring 451.95 points on platform to win the diving event.
Between that and two other point-scorers, Auburn has moved to within 63 points of Georgia for second place. A relay win accounts for 64 points, so Auburn would need a win and a Georgia DQ to pull off second. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Auburn win the 400 free relay after their great 100 free showing, but it’s looking like their surge will be too little, too late.
LSU’s Daniel Helm scored 416.80 points to top Texas A&M’s Ford McLiney (414.55) for silver. All three top finishers are seniors.
The top underclassman was Kentucky’s Levi Lindsey, who took fourth with 403.30 points. Things dropped off from there, with A&M freshman Tyler Henschel scoring 385.50 and South Carolina’s Cole Miller putting up 383.70.
Rounding out the championship group were Maurico Robles of Tennessee (359.60) and Hunter Fritter out of Mizzou (341.65).
Men 400 Free Relay
Fresh off an outstanding 100 free performance as a group, Auburn took home the 400 free relay to make it back-to-back titles to close the meet. The Tigers were 2:48.98 with a young relay made up of two sophomores, a freshman and a junior.
Arthur Mendes led off in 42.63, and the freshman Jacob Molacek was very impressive swimming second and splitting 41.90. Michael Duderstadt was 42.70 and Kyle Darmody 41.75 to lead Auburn to the top of the podium.
Trailing by 62.5 heading into the event, Auburn could have technically passed up Georgia for second, but needed a win and a Bulldog DQ. Auburn did their part, but Georgia stayed legal and finished fourth to wrap up second place as a team.
Alabama took second in 2:50.20, getting a 41.35 split from Kristian Gkolomeev to come from behind on Florida. Florida took an opposite strategy, leading off with their stud, Caeleb Dressel. Dressel was 42.20, but his team was run down by the speedy Gkolomeev late and finished third in 2:50.31.
Georgia took fourth, well out of the running for the event win. Matias Koski was 42.96 on the leadoff leg, pairing his 1650 free win with arguably the team’s most impressive 100 free split to show off his range. Junior Michael Trice was also 42.21 on the anchor leg as the Bulldogs went 2:51.68.
Tennessee beat out Missouri for fifth, going 2:53.70 on a 42.93 from senior Troy Tillman. Mizzou was 2:54.29, led by a 43.21 leadoff from Michael Chadwick.
Women 400 Free Relay
Georgia capped off an 8th SEC title that had been pretty well sewn up for a few days with a win in the 400 free relay. The Bulldogs went 3:12.97, winning by about a second over Florida.
Maddie Locus (48.33), Olivia Smoliga (48.55), Lauren Harrington (48.49) and Chantal van Landeghem (47.60) made up that relay, which was actually just slower than the team went mid-season. It seems like Smoliga, at least, should have more to give at NCAAs, and the Bulldogs will need it to combat Stanford and Cal, who sit 1 and 2 in the national rankings.
Florida was second, getting the field’s best leadoff leg from junior Natalie Hinds (47.31). Close behind her was Texas A&M’s freshman Beryl Gastaldello (47.59), who had a quiet day after using up her three individual event entries by Friday night.
Florida was 3:14.12 and A&M 3:14.57. The teams will flip-flop that order in the overall point standings, though.
Auburn took fourth on a 48.46 split from Allyx Purcell. The Tigers were 3:15.38. Arkansas (3:17.30) and LSU (3:17.95) came in after that, with the Razorbacks getting a 48.94 from Susanna White and LSU a 48.65 from leadoff leg Leah Troskot.
Final Team Scores
- Florida – 1314.5
- Georgia – 1134.5
- Auburn – 1084
- Tennessee – 918
- Alabama – 911.5
- Missouri – 768
- South Carolina – 567
- Texas A&M – 555
- LSU – 538.5
- Kentucky – 407
Ultimately, non one could touch Florida, who were just too well-rounded with their usual long-event dominance combined with the newly-added sprinting prowess of Caeleb Dressel. Georgia is built much the same way as the Gators, but didn’t have that elite sprint presence to lift up their relays, and the lack of a true sprint star relegated them to second.
Auburn, meanwhile, looked like their old, sprinting selves, dominating the 100 free and 400 free relay on day 5. They took third, only about 50 back of Georgia.
Alabama almost caught Tennessee on Kristian Gkolomeev‘s big night, but the Vols hung on for 4th.
Maybe most impressive was South Carolina, who moved up from dead last in 2014 to 7th overall this year on the backs of some young guns.
- Georgia – 1450
- Texas A&M – 1166
- Florida – 963.5
- Tennessee – 745.5
- LSU – 727
- Auburn – 722
- Kentucky – 614
- Missouri – 594
- Alabama – 535
- Arkansas – 465
- South Carolina – 357
- Vanderbilt – 173
Georgia’s march to the title was almost unstoppable, and you could see it coming since Wednesday. Even more impressive was how many of the Bulldog studs didn’t appear to be fully rested this week.
Texas A&M outlasted Florida, thanks in large part to how big new addition Beryl Gastaldello showed up. The French freshman was a revelation, and a real missing piece for the Aggies. The Gators, meanwhile, have to be happy with how Natalie Hinds swam tonight, and also have Jess Thielmann back swimming at a very high level.
Tennessee might’ve had some people saving rest as well, and it’ll be interesting to see how sprint stars Faith Johnson and Harper Bruens do at NCAAs. They eked out 4th place over a surprisingly strong LSU squad.
LSU obviously benefited a lot from diving, but still had one of their best swimming years in recent memory to move up to 5th after being 7th (and a long ways behind Tennessee) last year.
LSU finished just ahead of their fellow Tigers from Auburn, stealing 5th by just 5 points despite a big Auburn run in the 400 free relay. Kentucky made a big surge with two event titles in the final two days to take 7th, but Missouri was a bit disappointing all-around, perhaps saving full rest for NCAAs with some of their top swimmers.