2020 SEC Championships: Day 2 Finals Live Recap


The first individual finals races of the 2020 SEC Champions are set to take place tonight in Auburn, Alabama. Swimmers will compete in finals of the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free. We’ll also see the 200 free relay and men’s 1-meter diving.

Florida’s Kieran Smith is one of the men to watch in the 500 free, but Georgia’s Walker Higgins leads the way for the Bulldogs. Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas looks to break 1:40 in the 200 IM, while Alabama’s Zane Waddell is chasing his first 50 free title. Courtney Harnish (Georgia), Erika Brown (Tennessee), and Meghan Small (Tennessee) are all back to defend their 2019 title on the women’s side.


  • SEC Meet Record: Tennessee, 2019, 1:26.51
  • NCAA Record: Cal, 2019, 1:24.55
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:28.43
  • 2019 Champion: Tennessee, 1:26.51
  1. Auburn- 1:25.41
  2. Tennessee- 1:26.15
  3. Missouri- 1:27.70

Tennessee got the early lead as Erika Brown tied the 50 free SEC Meet Record with a 21.15 leadoff, but the Auburn Tigers came back to win it and smash the Meet Record by a second. Julie Meynen took it out with a 21.65, while Claire Fisch blasted a 20.99 on the 2nd leg. Freshman AJ Kutsch raced to a 21.15 on the 3rd leg before Robyn Clevenger closed in 21.62. They won the race in 1:25.41, the 2nd fastest relay in history, while Tennessee was 2nd in 1:26.15. Bailey Grinter, a 50 free finalist, closed for the Vols in 21.40.

Arkansas’ Anna Hopkin made history with the fastest relay split ever in 20.27 on the 2nd leg. She had a -.05 reaction time in the live results, but there was no DQ as the exchange was clean. The Razorbacks placed 4th overall in 1:27.93. Alabama (1:27.98) followed closely behind in 5th with a 21.50 from Morgan Scott on the 2nd leg.

Florida (1:28.13) took 6th with a pair of 21s from Sherridon Dressel (21.75) on the 2nd leg and Talia Bates (21.89). Bates was the anchor, and has returned to competition after she was out with an undisclosed injury following the Gators’ dual meet with Auburn. She’ll also be in the C final of the 50 free.


  • SEC Meet Record: Alabama, 2019, 1:15.43
  • NCAA Record: Auburn, 2009, 1:14.08
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:17.17
  • 2019 Champion: Alabama, 1:15.43
  1. Alabama- 1:16.00
  2. Florida- 1:16.33
  3. Texas A&M- 1:16.57

Alabama (1:16.00) repeated as champion, with Zane Waddell clocking an 18.60 on the 2nd leg. Jonathan Berneburg was significantly faster than his anchor split last night with a 19.09 on the 3rd leg. That’s Bama’s 3rd-straight title in this event. Will Davis split an 18.66 on the 2nd leg for Florida (1:16.33) as the Gators took 2nd. Texas A&M was 3rd with an 18.85 from Mark Theall on the 3rd leg.

Lewis Burras led off with a 19.28 as South Carolina (1:17.20) out-touched Tennessee (1:17.37). The Volunteers’ fastest split came from freshman Scott Scanlon, who raced through the 3rd leg in 19.14. Notably, Auburn had initially touched 4th, but the Tigers were disqualified. Freshman Nik Eberly had a false start on the 3rd leg.


  • SEC Meet Record: Brittany MacLean (Georgia), 2016, 4:33.10
  • NCAA Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 2017, 4:24.06
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 4:40.96
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:35.76
  • 2019 Champion: Courtney Harnish (Georgia), 4:35.52
  1. Courtney Harnish (Georgia)- 4:36.40
  2. Ali Galyer (Kentucky)- 4:38.40
  3. Kensey McMahon (Alabama)- 4:38.66

Georgia’s Courtney Harnish is now 3-for-3 in SEC titles in the 500 free. Harnish was 2 seconds ahead of the field as she won tonight’s race in 4:36.40. Kentucky’s Ali Galyer dropped a second to take the silver in 4:38.40, coming from behind on the penultimate 50 to out-touch Bama’s Kensey McMahon (4:38.66). McMahon broke 4:40 for the first time as she took bronze.

Peyton Palsha of Arkansas was 4th in 4:39.41, marking her 2nd time ever breaking 4:40. She came from behind to edge out Tennessee’s Amanda Nunan (4:39.42) by a hundredth. Auburn’s Emily Hetzer placed 6th, about a second off her lifetime best from prelims in 4:39.80.

The 2019 runner-up was fast enough to have placed 2nd again. Florida’s Leah Braswell, the 2019 runner-up, won the B final in 4:38.22, coming within a second of her season best. Teammate Taylor Ault gave them a 1-2 finish in that heat. She was just a couple tenths shy of her best in 4:40.32. Texas A&M’s Katie Portz broke 4:43 for the first time since 2018, clocking a 4:42.54 for 3rd in the B final.

Kentucky freshman Beth McNeese blew her best time away from the C final. In her first swim under 4:40, McNeese dominated the field in 4:38.97. That was a best by nearly 5 seconds.


  • SEC Meet Record: Fynn Minuth (South Carolina), 2018, 4:10.51
  • NCAA Record: Townley Haas (Texas), 2019, 4:08.19
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 4:16.04
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:11.82
  • 2019 Champion: Fynn Minuth (South Carolina), 4:11.98
  1. Kieran Smith (Florida)- 4:06.32
  2. Mark Theall (Texas A&M)- 4:10.77
  3. Bobby Finke (Florida)- 4:10.86

Florida’s Kieran Smith blew away the NCAA Record and the American Record. He’s now dropped over 10 seconds in the event from his previous best ahead of the meet. Smith touched the wall in 4:06.32, beating Zane Grothe’s former American Record y nearly a second and Townley Haas’ former NCAA Record by nearly 2 seconds.

Smith was 4 seconds ahead of Texas A&M’s Mark Theall and Florida’s Bobby Finke as they battle for silver. Theall held a slight lead, with Finke kicking it into another gear on the final 50, but Theall had enough to hold him off in 4:10.77 to Finke’s 4:10.86. Both men were tenths shy of the former Meet Record.

Georgia’s Walker Higgins was just off his prelims time in 4th with a 4:13.98. Florida’s Khader Baqlah was also just a few tenths slower than his morning swim, touching 5th in 4:15.86.

Geogia pulled off a 1-2 finish in the B heat, with Kevin Miller leading the charge in 4:15.77, just 7 hundredths shy of his best. Teammate Grant Norgan dropped nearly a second in 4:17.03. Auburn’s Christian Sztolcman, who broke 4:20 with a big drop this morning, was 3rd in a lifetime best 4:18.50.

Tennessee’s Marc Hinawi had a breakthrough from the C final. Hinawi hadn’t matched his best since 2017. Tonight, he dropped half a second as he came from behind to lead a 1-2 finish with teammate Ethan Sanders (4:18.39). Sanders made a big drop there, breaking 4:20 for the first time.


  • SEC Meet Record: Meghan Small (Tennessee), 2019, 1:51.62
  • NCAA Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 2018, 1:50.67
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 1:56.76
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:53.66
  • 2019 Champion: Meghan Small (Tennessee), 1:51.62
  1. Meghan Small (Tennessee)- 1:52.14
  2. Zoie Hartman (Georgia)- 1:53.05
  3. Asia Seidt (Kentucky)- 1:53.70

Tennessee’s Meghan Small repeated as champion, capturing her 3rd 200 IM title in her 4 years as a Volunteer. Georgia freshman Zoie Hartman dropped over half a second to take the silver in 1:53.05. In a tight battle for 3rd, Kentucky’s Asia Seidt (1:53.70) held off a hard-charging Tess Cieplucha of Tennessee. Cieplucha had a huge swim, touching in 1:53.84 as she broke 1:55 for the first time.

Florida’s Vanessa Pearl had the 5th fastest time of the night from the B final. Pearl, who placed 4th last season, dominated the B heat by nearly 2 seconds in 1:54.80.

MEN’S 200 IM

  • SEC Meet Record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 1:38.13
  • NCAA Record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 1:38.13
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 1:43.82
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:41.34
  • 2019 Champion: Kieran Smith (Florida), 1:43.13
  1. Shaine Casas (Texas A&M)- 1:39.91
  2. Nick Alexander (Missouri)- 1:42.49
  3. Danny Kovac (Missouri)- 1:43.24

Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas became the 7th man ever to break 1:40 in the 200 IM. Casas is now the 7th fastest man in history after dominating in 1:39.91. His time blew away the former Pool Record, set by Florida’s Bradley Ally back in 2009, by 2 seconds. A&M had a strong showing in the B final as well, as Kaloyan Bratanov (1:44.40) and Alberto Gomez (1:44.54) went 1-2 in the heat, breaking 1:45 for the first time.

Missouri’s Nick Alexander repeated as the silver medalist with a lifetime best 1:42.49. Teammate Danny Kovac made it 2 on the podium for Missouri as he ran down Kentucky’s Glen Brown (1:43.47) on the back half. Florida’s Grant Sanders raced to 5th in 1:44.01.


  • SEC Meet Record: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 2019, 21.15
  • NCAA Record: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 2019, 20.90
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 22.23
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 21.66
  • 2019 Champion: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 21.15
  1. Erika Brown (Tennessee)- 21.03
  2. Anna Hopkin (Arkansas)- 21.44
  3. Julie Meynen (Auburn)- 21.55

Tennessee’s Erika Brown swam the 2nd fastest 50 free in history as she hit the wall in 21.03. She’s now swum the SEC Meet Record twice in one session. That lowered her former best by a tenth, and is a tenth away from Abbey Weitzeil’s NCAA Record of 20.90 from midseason.

Arkansas’ Anna Hopkin was a couple of tenths away from her best, taking silver in 21.44. Auburn’s Julie Meynen swam a lifetime best 21.54 for bronze ahead of teammate Claire Fisch (21.70), the 2019 bronze medalist.


  • SEC Meet Record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2016, 18.23
  • NCAA Record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 17.63
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 19.35
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 18.96
  • 2019 Champion: Robert Howard (Alabama), 18.74
  1. Zane Waddell (Alabama)- 19.07
  2. Adam Koster (Texas A&M)- 19.12
  3. Lewis Burras (South Carolina)- 19.17

Alabama’s Zane Waddell kept the Crimson Tide on top, winning his first 50 free title in a lifetime best 19.07. Texas A&M’s Adam Koster was a nail behind in 19.12 for silver, dropping 2 tenths. South Carolina’s Lewis Burras went a best by nearly 3 tenths in 19.17 for bronze. He’s dropped over half a second from his time coming into the meet.

Kentucky’s Peter Wetzlar was just a tenth off the podium in a lifetime best 19.27. Florida’s Will Davis had the 5th fastest time of the night as he won the B final in 19.28. That tied his best from last season’s SEC time trials. Bama’s Jonathan Berneburg was 2nd in the B heat with a lifetime best 19.46.


  • SEC Meet Record: Juan Celaya Hernandez (LSU), 2018, 479.10
  • 2019 Champion: Juan Celaya Hernandez (LSU), 440.30
  1. Kurtis Mathews (Texas A&M) – 436.50
  2. Conner Pruitt (Auburn) – 376.60
  3. William Hallam (Tennessee) – 374.35

Kurtis Mathews of A&M dominated the 1-meter, the only diver to surpass 400 points. With that, along with Aggie Victor Povzner snagging eighth, the Aggies have extended their lead past a 40-point margin. Kentucky put two divers into the top eight tonight, too, which will push them .5 points past Georgia and into fourth.


*= before diving finals

  1. Texas A&M University              438   2. University of Florida             395
  3. University of Alabama             361   4. Kentucky, University of           340
  5. Georgia, University of          339.5   6. Tennessee, University of, Knox  328.5
  7. Auburn University                 301   8. Missouri                          276
  9. South Carolina, University of,    238  10. Louisiana State University        223


  1. Tennessee, University of, Knox    385   2. University of Florida           356.5
  3. Auburn University                 352   4. Kentucky, University of           321
  5. Georgia, University of            310   6. Texas A&M University              300
  7. University of Alabama           243.5   8. Missouri                          212
  9. University of Arkansas            200  10. South Carolina, University of,    168
 11. Louisiana State University        160  12. Vanderbilt University              90

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4 years ago

For the men’s 50 free, Lewis Burras didn’t go a best by nearly three tenths because he led off his relay earlier that session in 19.28. I appreciate the write up tho. Crazy fast swimming! Are they sure they had the bulkhead in the right place? I’m so impressed I can barely believe it

4 years ago

In all the headlines tonight, I’m sure this will get lost. But I just want to give some love to Meghan Small. I’m sure some would argue she hasn’t lived up to the billing as a No. 1 recruit, but man is she crazy versatile.

Already at this meet: 21.4 50 free split, 1:43 200 lead off, 24.3 50 back, and obviously the 200 IM crown.

Take out the distance frees, and I’d argue that she could place top 8 in any other individual event. Brown is a superstar, but man I’m gonna miss having Small on this team!

Reply to  VFL
4 years ago

Good observation!

Reply to  VFL
4 years ago

Great swimmer who will be greatly missed by the Vols.

Reply to  Armchair
4 years ago

The cup is dry next year in Volunteer land the Lady Vols lose a huge powerful class and the Man Vols are decimated. Hope the men will recruit HARD!

Reply to  Dabestestman
4 years ago

Mona McSharry will be a day 1 star. She wasn’t ranked on SwimSwam but her conversions according to swimming world are 58.6 100 breast and 22/48 freestyler.

Jasmine Rumley has already split 21.7 and 21.8 and hasn’t really focused on swimming. She was a D1 prospect in three sports.

Definitely not going to replace Brown, Small, and Tess—but we’ll be back! 🙂

Reply to  VFL
4 years ago

Yep back to 3rd in girls and 7th in boys.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  VFL
4 years ago

Careful about giving some love to Meghan Small. Impressionable children visit this site.

Back off
4 years ago

Sam Disette from Alabama won the C in a lifetime best 19.36 also. Bama has 4 of the top 8 times, just saying.

Reply to  Back off
4 years ago

Coley effect.

4 years ago

Yeah there’s no way that Hopkin’s 20.2 split was legit.

Captain Ahab
4 years ago

Anthony Nesty is a great coach.

Reply to  Captain Ahab
4 years ago

thats why they hired him in Florida

4 years ago

If the d-train didn’t have a summer league start he’d be a force.

4 years ago

Brown 21.03!! tonight is 🔥🔥

4 years ago

The Olympic team has the potential to have 3 people with the last name smith on it.

Reply to  Nswim
4 years ago

Actually, I’m going to have to go with 4.

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
4 years ago

Regan, Kieran, and Clark. Whos the 4th?

Edit: leah. Oops im dumb lol

Reply to  Dbswims
4 years ago


Reply to  Dbswims
4 years ago


Reply to  Dbswims
4 years ago

And all of them could possibly swim the 200 free (relay or individual)

manoj ghimire
Reply to  USA
4 years ago

clark smith has less chances. leah smith has less chances in 800 fr relay . doubt in 400. sullivan is progressing

Corn Pop
Reply to  manoj ghimire
4 years ago

Leah is world bronze medallist 4 .01 plus an 8.17. She will come close in trialks s if not injured etc whereas it is still a huge huge jump for others. Just giving some respect for Leah.

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
4 years ago

Honestly if it comes down to the 200 for both Kieran and Clark, one might be shutting the other out…

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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