2018 SEC Championships: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap


  • Wednesday, February 14 – Sunday, February 18
  • Rec Center Natatorium, College Station, TX (Central Time Zone)
  • Prelims 10AM / Finals 6PM
  • Defending Champion: Florida (5x) (results)
  • Championship Central
  • Psych Sheet
  • Live results
  • Live Video (finals)

The first prelims session of the 2018 SEC Championships will feature world swimmer of the year Caeleb Dressel taking on the 200 IM in what should be a fascinating battle with the clock.

The world’s best sprinter, Dressel threw down one of the faster 200 IMs in history at a mid-season rest meet, and could become just the second man in history to break 1:40 with his swims today. Currently, Dressel ranks #9 all-time at 1:40.61 and could pass up the legendary Michael Phelps with a drop of .04 or more.

But the IM won’t be the only drama-drenched race of the morning. In the vacuum Dressel leaves in the 50 free, Tennessee’s Kyle Decoursey looks to step up after splitting 18.1 on the Vols medley relay last night. He’ll battle the top threats from sprint schools Auburn (Zach Apple) and Alabama (Robert Howard), both of whom are coming off of breakout summers.

Texas A&M’s women are looking to make a statement – one of only a couple teams nationally who even pose a threat to defending national champs Stanford, the Aggies have been on fire this year led mainly by a breastroke and IM group that destroys the rest of the nation. Sydney Pickrem looks to transfer that dominance to the postseason with the top seed in the 200 IM.

Ranked as the #1 recruit in her class two summers ago, Courtney Harnish is the top 500 free seed as a freshman for the Georgia Bulldogs. Meanwhile Kentucky’s breakout star Isaac Jones leads the men’s race, hoping to prove he can back up his explosive mid-season swim. Tennessee Volunteers Erika Brown and Stanzi Moseley top the women’s 50 free heading into this morning’s session.

Keep refreshing this page for live, event-by-event recaps of all the action from College Station.

Women’s 500 Free – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Geena Freriks, KY – 4:41.12
  2. Claire Rasmus, A&M – 4:41.31
  3. Courtney Harnish, GA – 4:41.61
  4. Taylor Ault, FL – 4:42.64
  5. Meryn McCann, GA – 4:42.85
  6. Peyton Palsha, AR – 4:43.05
  7. Katie Portz, A&M – 4:43.09
  8. Stephanie Peters, GA – 4:43.29

It was a little bit of sleepy opening event without too many big drops at the top, but most of the top seeds did what they needed to to make finals of the 500 free. Kentucky’s Geena Freriks is the top qualifier at 4:41.12, but the big names are stacked up behind her. Texas A&M’s Claire Rasmus is two tenths back and star freshman Courtney Harnish three more tenths back for Georgia. All three top qualifiers have been under 4:40 earlier this year.

In terms of team points, Georgia excelled at an even that has traditionally been a Bulldog strength. Meryn McCann is in the top 8 along with Stephanie Peters. Peters won what could be an impactful battle for team points, topping Texas A&M freshman Haley Yelle by just .14 seconds to join the A final. Yelle will lead the B heat tonight.

A handful of top-8 seeds fell off badly. 3rd-seeded Kira Zubar wound up 35th and out of scoring range for Missouri, and 5th-seed Tess Cieplucha wound up 28th for Tennessee.

Men’s 500 Free – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Akaram Mahmoud, SC – 4:14.12
  2. Fynn Minuth, SC – 4:14.55
  3. Andrew Brady, FL – 4:14.98
  4. Ben Lawless, FL – 4:16.06
  5. Jay Litherland, GA – 4:16.64
  6. Khader Baqlah, FL – 4:17.07
  7. Walker Higgins, GA – 4:17.20
  8. Blake Manganiello, FL – 4:17.38

In stark contrast to the women’s race, the men’s 500 had some big-time showings at the top, mostly courtesy of South Carolina and Florida. The Gamecocks took the top two qualifying spots, getting twin 4:14s out of senior Akaram Mahmoud and junior Fynn Minuth.

Florida, meanwhile, put four men into the top 8, led by senior Andrew Brady at 4:14.98. That should set Florida up for a massive day 1 – the Gators will be weak in the 50 free without Caeleb Dressel, but should have a small crowd of finalists between the 500 free and 200 IM.

Georgia stole the other two finals spots in an A heat that will feature just three teams. Star IMer Jay Litherland is the top Bulldog at 4:16.64.

Recently cleared for NCAA competition, star international South Carolina recruit Brandonn Almeida just missed the A final with a 4:17.55. That’s still an 11-second drop for the Brazilian, who is still mostly working to convert his long course speed into short course results. Almeida’s best two events – the 400 IM and 1650 free – are still to come.

Top incoming seed Isaac Jones of Kentucky was a late scratch and did not participate in the event. He had been 4:14 earlier this season.

Women’s 200 IM – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Sydney Pickrem, A&M – 1:53.72
  2. Asia Seidt, KY – 1:54.92
  3. Meghan Small, TN – 1:55.15
  4. Emma Barksdale, SC – 1:55.20
  5. Megan Kingsley, GA – 1:55.88
  6. Lisa Bratton, A&M – 1:56.03
  7. McKenna Debever, A&M – 1:56.13
  8. Meaghan Raab, GA – 1:56.15

Sydney Pickrem rolled through prelims of the 200 IM with no trouble whatsoever, blasting a 1:53.72 that leads the field by a full second. Pickrem will be the heavy favorite tonight and will swim alongside two Aggie teammates in the A final.

Lisa Bratton and McKenna Debever made the championship heat with 1:56-lows. Meanwhile Bethany Galat, coming in with the third seed, fell to 9th in 1:56.16 and will be relegated to the B final.

Trying to keep pace in the ups/mids/downs arms race, Georgia put two into the championship final. Megan Kingsley and Meaghan Raab both made the championship heat as seniors. Sophomores Asia Seidt of Kentucky and Meghan Small of Tennessee are the other two top contenders, sitting second and third behind Pickrem.

A&M dominated this event in volume of scorers. They’ll get a whopping 5 scorers in the B final and 9 scorers overall (out of 24 total scoring spots). They are currently tied with Georgia with 5 A finalists, but have 15 total scorers compared to 7 for Georgia.

Men’s 200 IM – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Caeleb Dressel, FL – 1:40.74
  2. Hugo Gonzalez, AUB – 1:41.69
  3. Mark Szaranek, FL / Brock Bonetti A&M – 1:42.48
  4. Jan Switkowski, FL – 1:43.46
  5. Gunnar Bentz, GA – 1:43.83
  6. Tom Peribonio, SC – 1:44.10
  7. Glen Brown, KY – 1:44.16

Sprint star Caeleb Dressel topped the field in the 200 IM, selecting that event instead of his native 50 free for the SEC round. Dressel was 1:40.74, just a tenth off his lifetime-best from earlier this season. Dressel currently ranks #9 all-time in the event and could move up further tonight.

He’ll be joined by defending co-national champion Mark Szaranek  and Jan Switkowski as Florida Gator A finalists. No other team got more than one man into the championship heat.

Auburn freshman Hugo Gonzalez followed up on a huge rookie season with a 1:41.69 that would rank him #2 nationally this season (pending the results of other conference meets happening this week).

Texas A&M’s Brock Bonetti tied with Szaranek for third, and Olympian Gunnar Bentz is also into the final, coming back from a broken collarbone that cost him most of this season.

Women’s 50 Free – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Erika Brown, TN – 21.60
  2. Aly Tetzloff, AUB – 21.83
  3. Ashton Ellzey, AUB – 22.02
  4. Bailey Scott, AL – 22.07
  5. Maddy Banic, TN – 22.08
  6. Gabrielle Fa’amausili, GA – 22.18
  7. Veronica Burchill, GA – 22.22
  8. Bailey Grinter, TN – 22.28

Breakout Tennessee sophomore Erika Brown earned the top spot in the 50 free, blasting a 21.60 to lead all swimmers by two tenths. Brown has even been a tenth faster, too, and has an outside shot to challenge the SEC record of 21.34 tonight with a big swim. Tennessee also gets Maddy Banic in the final after she missed much of the regular season.

It’s been a rough morning for Auburn, with just a single scorer (in the B final) over the first two events. But the Tigers rolled in two A finalists in 2nd and 3rd in what’s become perhaps the team’s signature event. Aly Tetzloff was 21.83 and Ashton Ellzey 22.02.

Georgia will make up some ground on Texas A&M here, getting 2 A finalists, while A&M only has 1 in the B and 1 in the C.

Men’s 50 Free – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Kyle Decoursey, TN – 19.13
  2. Robert Howard, AL – 19.23
  3. Zane Waddell, AL – 19.47
  4. Adam Koster, A&M – 19.48
  5. Peter Holoda, AUB – 19.49
  6. Zach Apple, AUB – 19.55
  7. Luke Mankus, MIZZ – 19.64
  8. Enzo Martinez, FL – 19.73

With American record-holder Dressel out of the way, the 50 free was wide open for Tennessee’s Kyle Decoursey to match his teammate Brown with a top qualifying spot. Decoursey was 19.18, and can probably be even a bit faster at night after going 18.1 in a relay last night.

Sprint rivals Alabama and Auburn each put a pair of men into the final. Robert Howard and Zane Waddell sit 2 and 3 for the Crimson Tide and Peter Holoda and Zach Apple 5 and 6 for the Tigers.

Texas A&M’s Adam Koster continued a banner sophomore season, going 19.48 to cut almost a half second off his season best and more than two tenths off his lifetime-best for the fourth spot.

Georgia’s Javier Acevedo just missed the A final in 19.75. Meanwhile Tennessee got three more men into the B final, which could line up a stellar 200 free relay.

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Tea rex
4 years ago

1:40.74… definitely ain’t no thang.

4 years ago

Dressel’s going to make a run at David Nolan’s record tonight.

He has about 1.3 seconds to improve to get there. It’s going to be close.

You have to pace the 200 IM correctly. A lot of people go out too fast.

Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

I don’t think Dressel has gone out fast enough. He came home in a 23.5 back in December.

Reply to  completelyconquered
4 years ago

He was faster on the butterfly, and then slower on the free compared to December.

So we’ll find out he was saving something for tonight.

Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

In watching the race, he looked incredibly relaxed the last 50. He was slower on the free because why wouldn’t he be in the prelims? I expect he’ll be 1.1-1.2 seconds faster on the free tonight. As for the other quarter second, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have twice that amount of time shaved off in the first quarter tonight.

Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

unpopular opinion: he doesn’t break the record. I predict 1:39.60. Still incredible. Still could win a medal in 2IM in Tokyo, though gold is a stretch IMO. (obviously I hope he goes 1:38 like everyone else).

Pancake Swimmer
4 years ago

This is what I think will happen tonight:
Dressel 200 IM: 21.32, 25.48, 28.87, 23.50. = 1:39.17

Pancake Swimmer
Reply to  Pancake Swimmer
4 years ago

It’s really out there, but I learned not to doubt Dressel after this summer.

Bon Jovi
Reply to  Pancake Swimmer
4 years ago

wow so ANALitical

Reply to  Pancake Swimmer
4 years ago

Florida is known for good IM swimmers. So he’s got to have trained for it the right way.

Hugo Gonzalez and his teammate Mark S. will be pushing him.

4 years ago

Enzo Martinez squeaking into that A final of the 50 free to soften the blow of no Dressel was clutch.

NM Coach
4 years ago

FLOR – 4 in the A heat of Men’s 500 Free!
A&M – 8 of the Top 16 of Women’s 200 IM!!!!

That’s some SERIOUS depth!!!!

Reply to  NM Coach
4 years ago

Florida has four in the top eight and the nineth spot as well.

4 years ago

Is anyone going to mention Beryl Gastaldello is missing? Definitely going to hurt them at NCAAs if she isn’t just resting…

Reply to  KNOW IT ALL
4 years ago

Anyone know?

Reply to  KNOW IT ALL
4 years ago

Just noticed that, she’s huge for individual but maybe more importantly she huge for their relays at ncaas

4 years ago

Dressel: goes 1:40 in the 200im in the prelims
all of us: ugh didn’t even break 1:40 in the prelims

Go Bearcats
Reply to  Lucas
4 years ago

So true

4 years ago

1:40.74 and didn’t look like he was pushing it at all. His free split was similar to the other top guys

Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

Splits for his swim just now were 21.54, 25.58, 28.98, and 24.64

Splits for his Purdue invite were 22.28, 25.62, 29.15, and 23.56.

Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

Definitely hints of another gear. I think we are in for a treat tonight!

Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

Thanks for posting the splits…I didn’t dig up Nolan’s splits, but I saw in a previous post that he was out in 45.9.

It looks like CD turned it off in the second 100, obviously in the Free for sure. So I say that his first 100 doesn’t change much in the final, say 46.9 at best. So the question then is can he make up a second on the back half???

I think on full taper he could be 1.38.9-1.39.1, but this meet I predict 139.7. I hope I’m wrong…love to see low 1.39 tonight!

If he can’t break the record tonight, then I think we will have to wait for some random Winter Nats meet to see this… Read more »

Reply to  BKP
4 years ago

David Nolan’s splits for comparison:
21.67, 24.32, 29.21, 24.18
45.99 at the 100 and 1:39.38 final time.

Tea rex
Reply to  completelyconquered
4 years ago

CD looks like he could beat 3/4 splits from Nolan. If he goes 25-30 yards underwater over 50y backstroke, CD should lose less than a second on the back split.

NC Swim Fan
Reply to  BKP
4 years ago

I think it is fair to say that Dressel’s least elite stroke is backstroke, whereas that was one of Nolan’s strengths. Dressel is a much better breaststroker and freestyler than Nolan ever was, so I see no reason he cannot make up a second on the back half as long as he has the stamina. Training, endurance, and rest all being equal, I think the answer to your question above is a resounding “Yes”. However, those three elements are really impossible to know from the casual observer.

Reply to  NC Swim Fan
4 years ago

Even with his backstroke being his weakest, he still went 55 long course at an in-season meet this summer. If he really wants the IM, UF has more than enough experience developing world record-holding backstrokers, so he’ll get what he needs before Tokyo.

Reply to  NC Swim Fan
4 years ago

thats laughable that dressel is a “much better” breaststroker than nolan. David nolan would split 51s on stanford relays. He went 51.2 at 2015 ncaas. in 2016 dressel went 51.8 at ncaas.

Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

Crazy to think that his free split was over 6 seconds slower than his 50 PB. You would think that he should be able to bring it home in a 23.0 without too much trouble.

Coach Mike
Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

Yeah, he’ll throw down tonight.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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