2017 SEC Women’s Champs: Aggies Deep, Bulldogs Lurking


  • Tuesday, February 14 – Saturday, February 18
  • Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, Knoxville, TN (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Prelims 10AM / Finals 6PM
  • Defending Champion: Texas A&M women (results)
  • Live results


  1. Texas A&M University             1304      
  2. Georgia, University of           1113
  3. Kentucky, University of           938      
  4. Tennessee, University of, Knox    855
  5. Auburn University                 849      
  6. Missouri, University of           786
  7. Florida, University of            624      
  8. Louisiana State University        550
  9. South Carolina, University of,    505     
 10. Alabama, University of            464
 11. Arkansas, University of, Fayet    284     
 12. Vanderbilt University             104

The 2017 SEC Women’s meet, while always savory, offered some unusual flavors this year. Texas A&M, who is relatively new to the SEC conference, defended its title, showcasing its breastroke and IM brilliance along the way. The Bulldogs were the runner-ups, and continued to keep the swimming world guessing as to their potential. The Kentucky Wildcats cracked the top 3, and tied its program’s best finish in history. The Lady Wildcats skyrocketed from last year’s 8th place finish onto the podium. Meanwhile, the Florida Gators finished uncharacteristically low in the standings as the 7th place team, and the Lady Volunteers slid slightly from second place last year to fourth this year.


  1. Texas A&M University           1166.5   
  2. Tennessee, University of       1139.5
  3. Georgia, University of         1099.5   
  4. Auburn University                 797
  5. University of Missouri            764   
  6. University of Florida             754
  7. Louisiana State University        624   
  8. Kentucky, University of           619
  9. Arkansas, University of, Fayet    491  
 10. University of Alabama             486
 11. South Carolina, University of,  424.5  
 12. Vanderbilt University             166

Like many former Georgia women’s teams, the Texas A&M Aggies aren’t loaded with blockbuster names, but they are remarkably deep. Texas A&M put three swimmers in the 100 breast and 400 IM finals, four swimmers in the 200 IM final, and five swimmers in the 200 breast final. Senior Sarah Gibson won individual titles in the 100 fly (50.71), 200 fly (1:52.64), and 500 free (4:38.92), and sophomore Sydney Pickrem won the 400 IM (4:02.25) and 200 breast (2:06.65). Junior Bethany Galat continues to quietly rack up some serious points for her team without claiming individual titles.

Perhaps the biggest message the Aggies sent all meet was beating the Bulldogs in the 800 free relay by more than 2.5 seconds. No team had beaten the Lady Bulldogs in that event in 7 years. The Wildcats claimed the silver medal over the Bulldogs by just over a second.

Speaking of Georgia, the Lady Bulldogs finished second, and continue to be a wild card leading into the NCAA Championships. At last year’s SEC meet they finished third, only to win the national title a few weeks later. This year they are without Olympians Brittany MacLean and Hali Flickinger, but they have one final season with Olympian sprinters Olivia Smoliga and Chantal Van Landeghem. Smoliga, who had the golden touch, won two individual titles (and runner-up in the 50 free) and three relay titles. She seems to have rebounded beautifully from her eventful summer, and appears to be enjoying the last few weeks of her collegiate swimming career.

Van Landeghem continues to be the invaluable anchor on most of Georgia’s relays.

While it’s unclear how rested the Dawgs were for this meet, the complexion of the team has undoubtedly changed. Other than senior Rachel Zilinskas, who finally looks back to form after surgery at the end of her sophomore year, the Bulldog women were lackluster in the freestyle distance and middle-distance events. But if sprinters are the name of the game in college swimming (cough, Caleb Dressel, cough), then the Lady Dogs have nothing to fear. They swept the 100 freestyle individually, and won the 200 free, 200 medley, and 400 free relays. Freshman Veronica Burchill, and transfer junior Chelsea Britt, in particular,  have brought some welcomed firepower to Georgia’s lineup. Stanford looks unstoppable, but don’t be surprised if Georgia avenges its losses to Texas and Texas A&M at the final meet of the season. If Emily Cameron can become the breaststroke swimmer Georgia desperately needs, the Bulldogs will be very, very dangerous at NCAAs.

Kentucky has thundered to the top of the ranks of one of the strongest swimming conferences in the nation in just a single season. Asia Seidt was a top-ranked incoming recruit, but she may not have been ranked high enough. The only other SEC freshman who could be put in the same conversation as Seidt would be Tennessee’s Meghan Small. Seidt swam butterfly (200 medley relay), backstroke (200 back individual champion), free (800 free relay runner-up), and IM (200 IM finalist). Between Seidt and the Galyer sisters, Kentucky has quite the backstroke contingent heading into the national championship meet.

Other swimmers, just to name a few, who were standouts on their teams include Tennessee’s Madeline Banic, Auburn’s Ashley Neidigh, Mizzou’s Hannah Stevens, and South Carolina’s Emma Barksdale.

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6 years ago

Despite such accomplishments like this recent SEC win, the Texas A&M women have been a relatively “under the radar” success story for quite a while. They swim really well season after season without having been able to recruit the most elite American high school swimmers as they make their move to college swimming. That’s a bummer. I’d love to see 2 or 3 of our international class high school girls make A&M their college choice. Bet they’d be pleased with their performances and that’s probably all it would take to make the Aggies true contenders for an NCAA team title. Tough to reach that pinnacle with a Franklin or a Ledecky on your team. I watched Sarah Gibson come up… Read more »

Reply to  Tigerswim22
6 years ago

I agree @TIGERSWIM22 that the Aggies have been heavily under-rated, particularly in the polls pre-championship season. They have proven to be a top notch program with solid athletes and coaching. Their results speak for themselves. And, while the Aggies are going to be losing Sarah Gibson next year, they are bringing in a stellar freshman class for the 2017-18 season. 3 of the “SwimSwam top 20” recruits committed to A&M – Taylor Pike, Anna Belousova, and Joy Field. Not to mention the 4 other commits who each competed at the 2016 US Olympic Trials. That’s not only elite level recruits, but some incredible depth. https://swimswam.com/texas-womens-swimming-adds-seven-2017-roster/ So, your wish for commits from the “most elite American high… Read more »

6 years ago

The question is, are the Aggies really contenders for the national championship, or did the coaches rest all the swimmers utterly for conference, leaving them in a worse position for NCAAs?

Reply to  Mikeh
6 years ago

Steve usually has a good track record of balancing taper for his athletes. From the interviews it looks like some girls aren’t rested. Even if all were. I’d trust Steve to pull off a double taper like he has in the past.

Reply to  Mikeh
6 years ago

This isn’t Steve’s first rodeo. He’ll have them ready for Indy. What that means for the final standings in March, who knows, but it won’t be due to lack of preparation or too much rest for sure.

6 years ago

Am I the only one who thinks that picture of Smoliga (and Worrell) is irritating? They are two of the best swimmers in the world…act like you’ve been there…it’s like Taylor Swift when she wins her 30th grammy. Oh really? You’re surprised? Really?

Another Swim Nerd
Reply to  Rookery
6 years ago

God forbid an athlete show positive emotion.

Reply to  Rookery
6 years ago

Yes, you’re the only one. Swimming needs more excitement and emotion, not less. When you’re representing your team/school at NCAAs, you should be fired up if you win. Your teammates feed off that energy and it creates momentum. It almost looks like they are having fun! The blasphemy!

How would you like them to react? A solemn nod to the crowd? Should they just stare stoically at the scoreboard? Exit the pool without even looking?

Reply to  Coach
6 years ago

Apparently not the only one if that little green number below my comment is anything to judge by. Anyway I’m not against positive emotion, and maybe it’s just that frame, but that reaction seems over-the-top for an athlete who can pretty reasonably expect to win.

Reply to  Rookery
6 years ago

She’d just set the NCAA record in the 50 free in that photo. It’s called joy. Find some.

Reply to  JudgeNot
6 years ago

I always laugh at your comments and how they directly contradict your username

Reply to  Rookery
6 years ago

Happy to bring you some joy!

Reply to  Rookery
6 years ago

And yeah, the name is tiresome at this point. It was a response to something long ago – can’t even remember what… But, I’m stuck with it.

6 years ago

UGA isn’t lurking it’s going to be some years before they can reclaim the team title at conference.

6 years ago

Just acknowledge the Aggies won. It seems that every article involving them you never want to give credit to.

Reply to  Confused
6 years ago

You do realize Braden Keith is an Aggie? I think he’s been unbiased yet gives credit where credit is due!