2019 SEC Championships: Day 2 Finals Live Recap


The first full finals session from the 2019 SEC Championships goes off tonight, with both the men’s and women’s 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free, and 200 free relays on the docket.

Among the highlights from this morning’s prelims was a new SEC Championship Record from Tennessee junior Erika Brown in the women’s 50 free of 21.33, a blazing fast 18.80 swim from Alabama senior Robert Howard in the men’s 50, and a 4:12.36 500 free from Georgia’s Walker Higgins who heads into the men’s final with the top seed by almost three seconds.

Another intriguing event will be the women’s 200 IM, where defending champion Sydney Pickrem of Texas A&M and Meghan Small of Tennessee come in having tied in the prelims in a time of 1:53.01. Pickrem will be seeking her second consecutive title in the event.

Women’s 500 Free Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 4:33.10, Brittany Maclean (Georgia), 2016
  • Pool Record: 4:30.85, Leah Smith (Virginia), 2015
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:36.30
  1. Courtney Harnish, UGA, 4:35.52
  2. Leah Braswell, FLOR, 4:36.81
  3. Geena Freriks, UKY, 4:37.04

Georgia sophomore Courtney Harnish used a strong back half to pick up the win in the women’s 500 free, overtaking early leader Geena Freriks of Kentucky on the penultimate lap to win in a final time of 4:35.52. The swim got her under her old PB of 4:35.69 set at the 2017 UGA Fall Invitational.

Florida freshman Leah Braswell used the field’s fastest final 50 of 26.75 to run down Freriks and steal 2nd in 4:36.81, establishing a new best by over a second. Freriks, who came in as the defending champion, ended up 3rd in 4:37.04.

Haley Yelle of Texas A&M cracked 4:38 for the first time for 4th in 4:37.92, while her teammate Claire Rasmus was 5th in 4:39.11.

Meryn McCann of Georgia dropped a 4:38.06 from the ‘C’ final, over seven seconds faster than she was in the prelims and a new best time. That would’ve placed her 5th in the ‘A’ final.

Men’s 500 Free Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 4:10.51, Fynn Minuth (South Carolina), 2018
  • Pool Record: 4:10.73, Dan Wallace (Florida), 2014
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:12.22
  1. Fynn Minuth, SCAR, 4:11.98
  2. Trey Freeman, FLOR, 4:12.80
  3. Khader Baqlah, FLOR, 4:12.96

South Carolina’s Fynn Minuth used an aggressive front end to come away with his third consecutive title in the men’s 500, clocking a 4:11.98 to hold off a hard charging Trey Freeman.

Freeman was the only swimmer to come home sub-25 in 24.82 (while Minuth was the only to be over 26 in 26.37), moving him up from 4th at the 450 to 2nd at the touch. His showing of 4:12.80 destroys his previous best time of 4:15.06, while his Gator teammate Khader Baqlah also dropped a second and a half for 3rd in 4:12.96.

Walker Higgins, who came into tonight as the top seed after dropping a big best of 4:12.36 in the prelims, ended up 4th tonight in 4:13.28. Mark Theall broke the Texas A&M School Record in 5th in 4:17.34.

Gator freshman Robert Finke established a new best time from the ‘B’ final, touching 1st in 4:14.86 to take down his 4:17.25 PB from this morning. 2nd in the consolation heat and 10th overall went to Mizzou freshman Jack Dubois, who set a new School Record in 4:15.79.

Women’s 200 IM Final

  1. Meghan Small, TENN, 1:51.62
  2. Sydney Pickrem, TA&M, 1:51.66
  3. Emma Barksdale, SCAR, 1:53.27

Meghan Small came out on top in what was an epic duel with Sydney Pickrem in the women’s 200 IM, with Small building a lead of six-tenths on the front half and then Pickrem closing that gap on the breast leg. The two turned just .02 apart heading into the free leg, where Small (26.50) narrowly outdid Pickrem (26.52) to get the victory in 1:51.62.

She smashes Pickrem’s SEC Championship Record of 1:52.69 set last year, along with the Pool Record of 1:52.87 set by Melanie Margalis in 2014, and also lowers the best time she set in the prelims (1:53.01). Pickrem also went a best time for 2nd in 1:51.66, eclipsing the 1:52.35 she went at NCAAs last season.

Small and Pickrem now rank 3rd and 4th all-time in the event, trailing only Ella Eastin (1:50.67) and Kathleen Baker (1:51.25).

Both Emma Barksdale and Vanessa Pearl set best times in the prelims like Small, and followed up by going faster tonight as well. Barksdale was 3rd in 1:53.27, under her 1:53.73, while Pearl, a freshman, got all the way down to 1:53.98 after going 1:55.18 in the morning.

Kentucky’s Asia Seidt, an NCAA ‘A’ finalist last season, won the ‘B’ final in 1:54.39.

Men’s 200 IM Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 1:38.13, Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018
  • Pool Record: 1:41.26, Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 2016
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:41.34
  1. Kieran Smith, FLOR, 1:43.13
  2. Nick Alexander, UMIZ, 1:43.15
  3. Javier Acevedo, UGA, 1:43.29

In a wildly close men’s 200 IM final, Florida freshman Kieran Smith came away with the win in 1:43.13, running down Nick Alexander with a 24.71 free leg. Smith hit the wall in 1:43.13, edging out Alexander’s 1:43.15.

Javier Acevedo of Georgia broke 1:44 for the first time to take 3rd, moving up from 7th at the 150 with the fastest freestyle split in the field of 24.27. Freshmen Shaine Casas (1:43.35) of Texas A&M and Danny Kovac (1:43.75) of Missouri were also in the 1:43s for 4th and 5th.

Gator senior Alex Lebed made it six swimmers sub-1:44 as he went 1:43.85 to take the ‘C’ final.

Women’s 50 Free Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 21.33, Erika Brown (Tennessee), 2019
  • Pool Record: 21.33, Erika Brown (Tennessee), 2019
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 21.74
  1. Erika Brown, TENN, 21.15
  2. Anna Hopkin, UARK, 21.58
  3. Claire Fisch, AUB, 21.65

After establishing a new SEC Championship Record this morning in 21.33, Tennessee’s Erika Brown exploded with a new NCAA Record in tonight’s women’s 50 free final, touching in 21.15. That breaks Simone Manuel‘s old mark of 21.17 from the 2017 NCAAs, and falls just .03 shy of the American Record held by Abbey Weitzeil of 21.12.

A total of five women broke 22 seconds in the heat, with Anna Hopkin of Arkansas 2nd in a best of 21.58, Claire Fisch of Auburn 3rd in a best of 21.65, Madeline Banic of Tennessee 4th in 21.89, and Ann Ochitwa of Missouri 5th in 21.94.

Men’s 50 Free Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 18.23, Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2016
  • Pool Record: 18.80, Robert Howard (Alabama), 2019
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 19.00
  1. Robert Howard, BAMA, 18.74
  2. Kyle Decoursey, TENN, 18.95
  3. Mikel Schreuders, UMIZ, 19.24

Alabama senior Robert Howard backed up his first ever swim sub-19 from the prelims with another in tonight’s final, dropping six one-hundredths to win in a time of 18.74. He re-broke his Pool Record as well.

Kyle Decoursey of Tennessee chopped off three-tenths from the prelims to break 19 seconds for the first time, touching 2nd in 18.95. Mikel Schreuders, the Mizzou senior who set a new Championship Record last night leading off the 800 free relay, also registered a best time for 3rd in 19.24.

Women’s 200 Free Relay Timed Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 1:26.89, Georgia, 2013
  • Pool Record: 1:26.31, California, 2016
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:28.61
  1. Tennessee, 1:26.51
  2. Auburn, 1:27.05
  3. Missouri, 1:28.09

Erika Brown followed up her NCAA Record in the 50 free with a massive 20.80 anchor leg to lead Tennessee to a successful title defence in the women’s 200 free relay.

Auburn, led by a 21.15 second leg from Claire Fisch, held a 0.85 second lead over the Vols heading into the anchor, but Brown ran down Robyn Clevenger to give Tennessee the victory in a new SEC Championship Record of 1:26.51.

Joining Brown on the winning relay was Madeline Banic (22.13), Stanzi Moseley (21.82), and Bailey Grinter (21.76). Alyssa Tetzloff led off Auburn in 22.02 and Julie Meynen split 21.69 on their third leg, and they finished just over half a second back in 1:27.05.

Missouri placed 3rd in 1:28.09, with a 22.07 lead-off from Ann Ochitwa and a 21.74 second leg from Sarah Thompson, and Arkansas (1:28.83) edged Texas A&M (1:28.99) for 4th. Anna Hopkin had the 2nd fastest split in the field on Arkansas’ second leg, clocking 21.02.

Men’s 200 Free Relay Timed Final

  • SEC Meet Record: 1:15.47, Auburn, 2009
  • Pool Record: 1:15.98, Auburn, 2014
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:17.41
  1. Alabama, 1:15.43
  2. Florida, 1:16.29
  3. Tennessee, 1:16.52

A scintillating 18.10 anchor leg from Robert Howard (with a 0.32 reaction time, no less) helped lead the Alabama men to a repeat win in the 200 free relay, as they posted a time of 1:15.43 to sneak under Auburn’s 2009 meet record of 1:15.47.

It was a tight race, with five teams within 27 one-hundredths of each other at the 150 before Howard made it a decisive win for the Crimson Tide. He was joined by Zane Waddell (19.32), Sam Disette (18.93), and Jack Blake (19.08).

Florida took 2nd in 1:16.29, with their lone sub-19 leg coming from freshman Will Davis (18.69), while Tennessee took 3rd in 1:16.52 with a big 19.01 lead-off from Kyle Decoursey.

Close behind was Missouri (1:16.68) and Texas A&M (1:16.71) in 4th and 5th. Mikel Schreuders was 18.77 for the Tigers, while both Adam Koster (18.85) and Mike Thibert (18.87) cracked 19 for the Aggies (all flying splits).



  1. Texas A&M, 441.5
  2. Tennessee, 393.5
  3. Florida, 388.5
  4. Georgia, 334.5
  5. Auburn, 329
  6. Arkansas, 294
  7. Missouri, 281.5
  8. Kentucky, 280
  9. Louisiana State, 238.5
  10. South Carolina, 208
  11. Alabama, 181
  12. Vanderbilt, 90


  1. Missouri, 378
  2. Florida, 353.5
  3. Texas A&M, 344
  4. Alabama, 331.5
  5. Tennessee, 312
  6. Kentucky, 270
  7. Georgia, 267
  8. Auburn, 252
  9. South Carolina, 234
  10. Louisiana State, 170

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2 years ago

Let’s go Brown, easy speed no pressure, hit that 21.18. Howard you’re reading my mind man, 18:71 sounds about right. Go Vols!

Reply to  Ragnar
2 years ago

Erika DOWNTOWN BeeRown will be around 21.15, I agree on Howard 18.71..GREAT 200 IM races for She’s and Men!!!
The She’s 50 will be boring except for Miss Tennessee Brown. The Mens 50 will be exciting!!! photo finish. TN She-Vols will win even with out BROWNIE the 200 FR Relay…I say save her for the 4 Med and 4 Fr – BUT what does me know???

Reply to  SaintJoseph
2 years ago

Wow .03 too low for Howard and .03 too high for brown, I’m going to Vegas

2 years ago

21.15!!!!!! Boom baby!!!

Captain Ahab
2 years ago

Erica Brown 21.15 50 yard freestyle!! Wow! That is really moving.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Captain Ahab
2 years ago

And 20.80 relay split too. What is the fastest known women’s relay split, anyone?

Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

Believe 20:45 by Simone

Reply to  Ragnar
2 years ago

that’s an insane split, considering her best was “only” 21.17. a massive relay swim, simone manuel was not going to let that relay lose lmao

The michael phelps caterpillar
2 years ago

Good job Kieran.

2 years ago

Freaking York Y girls are on fire. Small, harnish and Braswell wow

Reply to  Swimfan45
2 years ago

Agreed! For such a small team, they have amazing distribution rates into the nations finest.

Reply to  Flipper12
2 years ago

York is not such a small team! They’re a pretty decent size for where they are located!

Reply to  Leto
2 years ago

Maybe now. I swam there with these girls and believe me, compared to other teams at JO’s and other big meets, we were very small

2 years ago

Is Brown in any summer national tram roster?

Reply to  Pvdh
2 years ago

wondered about the same thing ……

Reply to  Pvdh
2 years ago

She is not even on National Team, so certainly not Worlds. Her underwaters are killer, so maybe tougher in long course for her.

Captain Ahab
2 years ago

Robert Howard has the smoothest sprint front crawl I have ever seen.

Reply to  Captain Ahab
2 years ago

Smooth… like Keystone

2 years ago

I neeeeeeed a race video of Pickrem and Small

Reply to  Swimmerj
2 years ago

Check TAMU website. They always record their swimmers races

Reply to  Any
2 years ago

Nothing yet. UGA has been posting videos too, nothing there yet either. Wonder if they were told not to post finals…

Reply to  Swimmerj
2 years ago

Smalls last underwater was a thing of beauty. Sealed the race right there.

Reply to  Truther
2 years ago

YES! And the turn itself– she anticipated the wall much better than Pickrem.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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