2020 SEC Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap


The first title swims of the 2020 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships will take place tonight, as swimmers gear up for the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay. Divers will compete in the women’s 1-meter and men’s 3-meter finals. The kicked off with swimming time trials on Tuesday morning. You can see a recap of those events here.

After breaking the SEC Meet Record in 2019, Tennessee returns 3/4 of their NCAA Champion 200 medley relay. That includes champion Erika Brown, one of the fastest sprinters in history. Alabama is the reigning men’s champion in that event, also coming off a record-setting 2019 where they went on to win NCAAs, but only Zane Waddell returns from that relay.

The Gators have had a streak of wins in the men’s 800 free relay, setting the SEC Meet Record last season. They’re now without half of that relay, but still have a good shot to win it. SEC Champions Khader Baqlah and Kieran Smith should play a role here. Texas A&M leads the SEC this season, and tonight will be their first showdown with the Gators this season as Florida looks to extend their team title streak to 8, while A&M is chasing their first ever men’s team title. Mark Theall will be a maor player for the Aggies as the current SEC leader in the 200 free.

Katie Portz returns as the Texas A&M women look to defend their 800 free relay title, but Tennessee will be hard to beat. They took a close 2nd to A&M last season and return every member of that relay, including SEC Champions Brown and Meghan Small.


  • SEC Meet Record: Lauren Reedy (Missouri), 364.30, 2017
  • 2019 Champion: Brooke Schultz (Arkansas), 359.35
  1. Alison Maillard (Auburn)- 364.15
  2. Aimee Wilson (LSU)- 320.75
  3. Grace Cable (Tennessee)- 319.70

Senior Alison Maillard came up with a big performance in the 1-meter final, giving host team Auburn the first victory of the meet. Maillard nearly took down the SEC Meet Record as she was just 0.15 away from the mark. LSU’s Aimee Wilson medaled for the 2nd-straight year, this time moving up to the runner-up spot. She narrowly beat Tennessee’s Grace Cable, who won bronze, and Florida’s Ashley McCool, who was 2 points shy of the podium.

Texas A&M and Kentucky each had 2 scorers in the championship heat. A&M’s Alyssa Clermont was the highest freshman finisher as she took 5th for the Aggies.


  • SEC Meet Record: Tennessee (2019) – 1:34.26
  • NCAA Record: Stanford (2018) – 1:33.11
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:36.40
  • 2019 Champion: Tennessee, 1:34.26
  1. Tennessee- 1:35.38
  2. Missouri- 1:35.61
  3. Florida- 1:36.10

The Tennessee women successfully defended their title here. Meghan Small got the ball rollin with a 24.35 back split, handing off to Nikol Popov, who rolled to a 27.26 breast leg. Stanzi Moseley came through with a 23.20 fly split. The Volunteers trailed Missouri and Florida going into the final leg, but Erika Brown raced to a blistering 20.57 as Tennessee won in 1:35.38.

Brown’s split is tied as the 4th fastest in history. The only women to have been faster are Simone Manuel and Abbey Weitzeil. She’s now 12 hundredths away from the fastest all-time, which Weitzeil and Manuel share in 20.45.

Missouri got the fastest back split of the field from Haley Hynes in 23.74 as they took a close 2nd. Florida’s Sherridon Dressel had the fastest fly split in 22.86 as the Gators took bronze. Texas A&M was 4th in 1:36.52, with Anna Belousova clocking a 26.87 for the fastest breast split.

The Tigers continued their momentum from Maillard’s win in the first heat of the 200 medley relay. Jewels Harris gave them the lead with a 24.52 back split, but LSU’s Olivia Paskulin pulled ahead on the breast leg. Robyn Clevenger closed the gap for Auburn, and teammate AJ Kutsch ran LSU down on the anchor leg as Auburn won the heat in 1:37.00 to LSU’s 1:37.40. Auburn wound up 7th overall.


  • SEC Meet Record: Alabama (2019) – 1:22.19
  • NCAA Record: Texas (2017) – 1:21.54
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:24.30
  • 2019 Champion: Alabama, 1:22.19
  1. Texas A&M- 1:23.49
  2. Tennessee- 1:24.04
  3. Florida- 1:24.51

The Aggies kicked off the men’s events with a victory. Shaine Casas put up a 20.84 to lead them off, while Ben Walker put up a 23.36 on the breast leg. Adam Koster posted a 20.40 on the fly, while Mike Thibert anchored them to victory in 18.89. Texas A&M won the event in 1:23.49. That clipped their former school record from 2019 SECs by about 2 tenths.

Defending champion Alabama held the lead through the first 3 legs of the race. Zane Waddell nearly matched the fastest 50 back split of all time. He was just over a tenth shy of the mark, a 20.20 set by Ryan Murphy, as he blazed to a 20.33. The Crimson Tide led at the final exchange, but it appeared anchor Jonathan Berneburg missed the wall on his turn, and Alabama slid to 4th. Bernburg anchored in 20.28. He’s been significantly faster, as his season best from a flat start in the 50 free is a 19.82 and his lifetime best from last season is a 19.67.

Tennessee got the fastest breast split of the field from Michael Houlie (23.32) as they took silver in 1:24.04. Florida’s Will Davis was the fastest anchor, clocking an 18.61 as the Gators (1:24.51) took bronze

The fastest fly split came from Auburn (1:25.12). The Tigers placed 7th, with Santiago Grassi splitting a 20.01 on the fly. They were run down by South Carolina (1:24.93), who placed 6th with an 18.75 anchor from Lewis Burras. LSU had sub-21 leadoff from Karl Luht in 20.92 as they placed 10th in 1:25.82.


  • SEC Meet Record: Zhipeng Zeng (Tennessee), 483.15, 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Zhipeng Zeng (Tennessee), 483.15
  1. Kurtis Matthews (Texas A&M)- 438.55
  2. Mingli Zhang (Kentucky)- 422.10
  3. Matt Wade (Tennessee)- 420.20

The Aggies topped the podium again as Kurtis Matthews won the title. Freshman teammate Victor Povzner was 4th as they brought in a big points haul. Kentucky’s Mingli Zhang moved up from 3rd in 2019 to the runner-up in 2020. The Wildcats also got big points with 2 in the final as Chase Lane finished 6th. Tennessee’s Matt Wade, who finished 5th last season, landed on the podium in 3rd.


  • SEC Meet Record: Georgia (2013) – 6:52.64
  • NCAA Record: Stanford (2017) – 6:45.91
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 7:00.86
  • 200 Free 2019 NCAA Invite: 1:45.12
  • 200 Free ‘A’ Cut: 1:42.98
  • 2019 Champion: Texas A&M, 6:54.47
  1. Tennessee- 6:53.27
  2. Kentucky- 6:56.66
  3. Georgia- 6:59.14

Tennessee’s Meghan Small clipped her lifetime best to lead off for the Volunteers in 1:43.21. Erika Brown extended their lead on the 2nd leg in a field-best 1:41.08. Tjasa Pintar (1:44.03) and Tess Cieplucha (1:44.95) kept the Vols in front on the back half as they won in 6:53.27. Kentucky’s Ali Galyer dropped half a second with a lifetime best 1:43.99. Fellow senior Asia Seidt swam a 1:43.38 on the 2nd leg, while Beth McNeese (1:45,82) and Riley Gaines (1:43.47) closed to take the silver in 6:56.66.

Georgia (6:59.14) came from behind with freshman Zoie Hartman‘s 1:42.25 anchor to out-touch Auburn (6:59.38) for bronze. The Tigers got a 1:44.87 leadoff from Claire Fisch, her first time under 1:45, and a 1:43.85 from Julie Meynen on the 3rd leg.


  • SEC Meet Record: Florida (2019) – 6:10.50
  • NCAA Record: Texas (2019) – 6:05.08
  • 200 Free 2019 NCAA Invite: 1:34.21
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 6:17.18
  • 200 Free ‘A’ Cut: 1:32.05
  • 2019 Champion: Florida, 6:10.50
  1. Florida- 6:09.91
  2. Texas A&M- 6:11.87
  3. Georgia- 6:16.64

The Florida men smashed the SEC Meet Record, defending their title in 6:09.91. Even without Maxime Rooney, who transferred to Texas, and redshirt Trey Freeman, they were faster than last year’s squad. Kieran Smith dropped an emphatic 4 seconds from his lifetime best as he led off in 1:30.11. He’s now the 4th fastest man in history.

Smith’s time took over 1.5 seconds off the Florida school record, which was formerly set at a 1:31.70 by NCAA Champion Shaune Fraser in 2009. Gerry Quinn (1:32.63) and Khader Baqlah (1:32.97) put up a pair of 1:32s on the middle legs of tonight’s winning relay. Clark Beach brought them home in a 1:34.27.

Texas A&M took down their school record as they took silver. Shaine Casas (leadoff- 1:32.29), Mark Theall (1:31.40), Clayton Bobo (1:33.70), and Kaloyan Bratanov (1:34.48) combined for a 6:11.87. Casas’ leadoff was a best by over a second. Georgia took the final podium spot in 6:16.64, led off by Walker Higgins‘ lifetime best 1:33.45.


  1. Texas A&M- 178
  2. Tennessee- 160
  3. Kentucky- 149
  4. Auburn- 147
  5. Florida- 138
  6. Missouri- 131
  7. LSU- 119
  8. South Carolina- 109
  9. Alabama- 106
  10. Georgia- 101


  1. Florida- 166
  2. Texas A&M- 163
  3. Tennessee- 159
  4. Kentucky- 150
  5. Auburn- 144
  6. LSU- 117
  7. Georgia- 111
  8. (T-8) South Carolina- 104
  9. (T-8) Alabama- 104
  10. Missouri- 95
  11. Arkansas- 89
  12. Vanderbilt- 60

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2 years ago

Wow, you’d think winning two of the first three events–and placing third in the third final–as the Tennessee women did,
would land you in first place–but no! the Vols are somehow in third place. I’m admittedly not completely conversant with conference
finals scoring, but that still seems a bit crazy.

Reply to  Armchair
2 years ago

Here’s what you need to know:

1) Relays very, very rarely determine conference championship team titles
2) Depth wins in a conference like the SEC
3) Diving is weighted disproportionately after day 1 of 4-or-5 day conference meet formats, and get diluted as the meet goes on.

Reply to  Armchair
2 years ago

If you know HS swimming at all, it is the same reason a team can be in 1st place after diving ( if it held before swimming events ) without ever swimming a stroke!

2 years ago

Georgia men in 10th after day 1??? Early fho. They should scooch up

Reply to  Austinpoolboy
2 years ago

Diving wasn’t very strong for them

Reply to  Swimcap
2 years ago

That is being nice

2 years ago

Alabama wasn’t in the lead after the last exchange. They lost that race to A&M before the blown turn.

Reply to  Fluidg
2 years ago

Hard to argue with the splits innit?

Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  Fluidg
2 years ago

You are correct! Saw it on SEC + & Mike Thibert just “took off” like a jet on that anchor👍. Bama was a bit behind before their “wall incident”. I was a bit scared that he might have left a bit early but gratefully not so!!

2 years ago

How is Florida in the lead for the women if Tennessee won both relays? Did they score a ton of points in diving? (Live results aren’t showing diving results)

Reply to  Swimmer8
2 years ago

Same question might be asked as to how Tennessee men are in 2nd? One diver finished 3rd and they must have had more divers top 20.

Reply to  Swimmer8
2 years ago

Yes, they did.

Relays have, relatively, a very, very small impact on conference championship meet outcomes, as compared to individual scoring. Check out the scoring summary here, specifically points in each event. Look at the deltas for relays as compared to individual events: https://swimswam.com/2019-sec-championships-scoring-breakdown/

Diving points weigh huge after day 1, but that will be diluted as more individual events ring up the register. Florida women went 4-9-10-24 in diving. Tennessee scored only 2 divers, one in 3rd place, one in 21st place (they used 3). So, Tennessee will have extra swims since they’re using fewer divers – if those swims all score, that’s an opportunity to catch up.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Thanks for this. How many swimmers/divers/combined can teams bring? It appears Tennessee has more people on MeetMobile than TAMU and Florida. Are some of them not going to compete? Are there psych sheets out that have event scratches or can they scratch as the meet goes on?

Really curious if Brown swims the 100 fly or 200 free.

Reply to  VFL
2 years ago

Teams don’t have to decide a day’s lineups until the night before. Day 2 psychs (here – https://swimswam.com/sec-day-2-scratches-defending-champ-smith-opts-out-of-200-im-will-swim-500-fr/) give a lot of hints about who’s in and who’s out.

Each team is allowed a maximum of 22 athletes at the meet. Starting last year, that maximum became indiscriminate between swimmers and divers – coaches can enter as many as they want of either, and each athlete counts as 1 regardless of whether they are swimmers or divers.

Reply to  Swimmer8
2 years ago

Agree–it seems more than bit screwy, IMO. There are three finals on the day: You win two of them and are 3rd in the third one–and you’re in 3rd place? That just seems wrong. I guess if you have enough swimmers/divers finishing between 10th and 20th, you can rack up enough points to surpass the winning team.

Reply to  Armchair
2 years ago

Y’all are putting a whole lot of stock into the standings after day 1 of the meet. Remember: they don’t give out team trophies until after day 5.

Speed Racer
2 years ago

Mizzou reaction time. 😳

2 years ago

TN girls dominating a pretty pedestrian SEC meet. UF looks like they will take the mens meet. What is wrong with TN Men? Have they forgotten how to swim? 6:20.8 on 800FR R is sad and 7th place.

Reply to  Dabestestman
2 years ago

Not sure that was their “A” lineup for the 800 FR R. My guess us that they had to reserve swimmers for other relays. Example – Garcia’s not known as a freestyler and Hinawi is a flyer.

Reply to  Justanarp
2 years ago

TN press release and coach quote confirms that this was not the usual relay team. Personal best swims for all!

Reply to  Dabestestman
2 years ago

What’s wrong??? Forgotten how to swim??? So biased. Their medley relay was 2nd overall and all four on the 800 had the best splits/times they ever had. Seems like a solid start to me.

Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  Dabestestman
2 years ago

Uh…. wouldn’t bet the house on Florida just yet unless you would care to be homeless🤣!! Their lack of diving points just “crushed” their day 1. Tipping my hat to them in the 800 relay though🎩. We swam well (swam our fastest time) but Smith’s leadoff leg was the difference!!

2 years ago

Kieran went a 1:30, but I’m nearly as impressed by Auerbach and Curry going 1:34 and 1:33 as freshmen

Reply to  Daddy
2 years ago


Horns up
Reply to  Daddy
2 years ago

Really? You’re “nearly as impressed” with a 1:34 and 1:33? That’s insulting. Smith’s swim goes in the history books as one of the fastest of all times and we’re quite possibly witnessing a swim star in the making. As a true swim fan, That’s exciting. That’s great if The freshmen got best times… but let’s not dilute an amazing accomplishment. Those times don’t belong in the same sentence.

Reply to  Daddy
2 years ago

Cause we didn’t see freshmen going 1:33 in the 80’s?

From The Past
2 years ago

Wow! What a start for Tennessee. Way to come out swinging and win both relays!

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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