2016 SEC Championships Kick Off in Columbia, Missouri (Live Recaps)

2016 Men’s & Women’s SEC Championships

The 2016 SEC swimming & Diving Championships kick off from Columbia, Missouri for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, as part of the unique 5-day SEC Championship meet. The meet’s first day won’t see much separation, as the 200 medley and 800 free relays are the only swimming finals, alongside the women’s 1-meter and men’s 3-meter finals.

The home team Missouri Tigers have peaked at the right time for their first opportunity at hosting this meet – they enter SEC’s with their best team since joining the conference and are the top seeds entering both the men’s and women’s 200 medley relays, and are also slotted to pick up plenty of diving points on the first day of the meet as well.

Women’s 1-Meter Diving Final

  1. Kahlia Warner, Florida, 346.10
  2. Rebecca Hamperian, Kentucky, 333.75
  3. Olivia Ball, Georgia, 324.95

Florida senior diver, and 6th-place finisher at last year’s NCAA Championships, Kahlia Warner defended her top prelims score with a 346.10 in tonight’s 1-meter final to take her first career SEC title. In the process, she won a battle against two of the best in the country: Kentucky’s Rebecca Hamperian (314.65), the defending SEC Diver of the Year, and Georgia’s Olivia Ball (302.80), the defending SEC Champion on the 3-meter.

While the 1-meter was Warner’s best finish at NCAA’s last season, her SEC Championship performance was less impressive last season – she finished just 10th and out of the final after a poor last dive in prelims. This year, in the finals, she finished much stronger, averaging over 61 points on her final two dives including a 67.50 on her second-to-last dive that was the highest of the final.

Women’s 200 Medley Relay

  1. Tennessee, 1:35.86
  2. Texas A&M, 1:36.13
  3. Georgia, 1:36.28

Each of the SEC’s 12 teams swam a season-best in the women’s 200 medley relay final, but it was the Tennessee Volunteers that came out on top with a 1:35.86.

The relay wasn’t decided until the final legs hit the water, with each of the top three teams coming out fairly-well matched in the first three legs. On that anchor, though, Tennessee senior star Faith Johnson, the only senior anchor among the top 6 finishing relays, scorched a 21.65 to pull the Volunteers for victory.

Tennessee has now won this relay in 5 of the last 7 years.

Texas A&M, meanwhile, finished as runners-up, despite shifting the top butterflier in the conference Beryl Gastaldello to the bacsktroke leg. Gastaldello at this meet last year swam what is believed to be the fastest 50 fly split on a medley relay ever. This year, though, the Aggies used Sarah Gibson on their fly leg, who split 22.63 (just .06 behind Tennesee’s Harper Bruens) to maintain a half-second lead going into the final leg.

The top 5 teams, including Missouri in 4th (1:36.42) and Auburn in 5th (1:37.09) swam NCAA qualifying times.

Men’s 200 Medley Relay

  1. Florida, 1:23.69
  2. Auburn, 1:23.74
  3. Alabama, 1:23.75

The Florida Gators may have been forced to use the NCAA’s best 50 freestyler, Caeleb Dressel, as their breaststroker on the men’s 200 medley relay, but they have the fortunate luxury of a second 19-second sprinter, as senior Corey Main anchored the Gators to a fingernail victory ahead of Auburn and Alabama.

Jack Blyzinskyj, a junior on a breakout season, led off in 20.93, Dressel split 23.43 on the breaststroke leg, and Jan Switkowski was 20.33 on the fly leg, and Main anchored in 19.00 for the Gators.

Auburn, meanwhile, erased nearly a half-second deficit thanks to a monster performance from sophomore Peter Holoda, who split 18.57 coming home for Auburn. The rest of their splits were Kyle Darmody in 21.45 on backstroke, Michael Duderstadt in 23.22 on breaststroke, Arthur Mendes in 20.50 on the fly leg, and Holoda’s lightning 18.57 anchor.

That anchor for Holoda was exactly .01 seconds better than that of Alabama’s anchor Kristian Gkolomeev after the two started their legs exactly tied. The difference between the two was the difference between 2nd and 3rd, and that will be a confidence boost for Holoda as Gkolomeev was the NCAA runner-up in the 50 free last year and the champion a year before that.

The top 5 teams in the men’s medley relay, including Tennessee (1:24.09) and Missouri (1:24.88), all automatically qualified for NCAA’s. Tennessee was buoyed by a 22.76 breaststroke from Peter John Stevens, who was 22.72 last year at this meet for the fastest split in NCAA last year.

Men’s 3-Meter Diving Final

  1. Sam Thornton, Texas A&M, 411.15
  2. Sebastian Masterton, Kentucky, 402.85
  3. Mauricio Robles, Tennessee, 402.85

Texas A&M freshman Sam Thornton from Bradford, England took his first SEC Championship in his first attempt with a score of 411.15 in the men’s 3-meter final. The World Junior bronze medalist averaged judges scores of 6.83 throughout his 6 dives, and actually had a significantly lower average score than runner-up Sebastian Masterton (7.36) and 3rd-place finisher Mauricio Robles (7.11).

Thornton’s average degree of difficulty, however, was over 3.3, including a huge 3.8DD Forward 4 1/2 Somersault Tuck on his final dive.

While that dive earned him a big score of 72.2 points that sealed the title, Missouri’s Clark Thomas did it even better earlier in the competition. He scored mostly 8’s on his dive for a whopping 91.20 points – the highest-scoring dive of the competition by 5 points. A few low-scoring dives at the end of his lineup, however, sunk his chances at the title.

Women’s 800 Free Relay

  1. Georgia, 6:55.56
  2. Texas A&M, 7:01.00
  3. Florida, 7:03.44

New year, same old Georgia middle-distance group. The Georgia Bulldogs, for the 7th-straight year, have won the SEC title in the women’s 800 free. In the process, they broke the University of Missouri Pool Record by almost 3 seconds.

The team of Hali Flickinger (1:43.19), Meaghan Raab (1:43.64), Shauna Lee (1:46.47), and Brittany MacLean (1:42.26) were dominant in this relay, and Flickinger’s leadoff also broke the Missouri Valley LSC Open Record in the 200 yard free. So dominant was this relay that Flickinger, Raab, and MacLean had the three fastest splits of any relay in the entire field.

Texas A&M again placed 2nd in 7:01.00, anchored by a 1:44.15 from junior Sarah Gibson.

Florida placed 3rd in 7:03.44 including a 1:43.77 from Natalie Hinds. Florida opted to use her on this relay rather than the opening 200 medley, where without her they finished just 10th out of 12 teams, and one can presume that she’ll be in the rest of the meet’s relays for the Gators.

The top 7 relays, including LSU (7:04.77), Tennessee (7:04.89), Kentucky (7:05.68), and Arkansas (7:06.08) all swam NCAA qualifying times.

Men’s 800 Free Relay

  1. Florida, 6:13.64
  2. Auburn, 6:15.59
  3. Georgia, 6:17.40

While not quite as long as Georgia’s streak, the Florida men did run their SEC Championship streak in the 800 free relay to 4 years on Tuesday – though there were no swimmers who were on all 4 relay teams.

Leadoff Pawel Werner, a senior who was on the last 3 winning groups, split 1:33.82, and was followed by Mark Szaranek (1:33.13), Mitch D’Arrigo (1:33.96), and Jan Switkowski (2:32.73) combined for a 6:13.64 which broke Texas’ 2009 Pool Record in the event.

Two seconds back were the Auburn Tigers in 6:15.59 including 1:33 splits from Hugo MorrisArthur Mendes, and Kyle, while Georgia finished 3rd in 6:17.40.

Missouri, who finished 4th in 6:19.17, was the only other relay to achieve an NCAA Qualification Time.

Team Scores (After Day 1)

Women

  • T-1. Kentucky – 154
  • T-1. Tennessee – 154
  • 3. Georgia – 149
  • 4. LSU – 133
  • 5. Texas A&M – 132
  • 6. Florida – 127
  • 7. Missouri – 122
  • T-8. Arkansas – 112
  • T-8. South Carolina – 112
  • 10. Auburn – 106
  • 11. Alabama – 99
  • 12. Vanderbilt – 62

Men

  • 1. Auburn – 170
  • 2. Missouri – 151
  • 3. Florida – 145
  • 4. Tennessee – 141
  • 5. Alabama – 140
  • 6. Texas A&M – 136
  • 7. Georgia – 122
  • T-8. Kentucky – 114
  • T-8. South Carolina – 114
  • 10. LSU – 105

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riley

Gators win the men’s medley over Auburn by .05 and Alabama by .06, awesome race. 20.9 for Blyzinskyj, 23.4 Dressel on breast. Big time 22.7 from Stevens for Tennessee on breast

Barry

Results have Gastaldello swimming the backstroke leg for A&M, is that not the case?

FL LSC

Dressel having to swim his 3rd best stroke and they still manage a win. Was a very tight race.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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