2020 SEC Championships: Day 3 Prelims Live Recap


The 2020 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships continue this morning in Auburn, Alabama. Swimmers are set to compete in prelims of the 400 IM, 100 fly, and 200 free. Florida’s Kieran Smith, who smashed the 500 free NCAA Record last night, will headline the men’s 400 IM. He’ll be up against the reigning champ, though, as teammate Bobby Finke is also in the mix. Erika Brown of Tennessee is chasing her 3rd-straight title in the 100 fly and will look to take down her own SEC Meet Record, which she set in 2018 and tied in 2019.


  • SEC Meet Record: Elizabeth Beisel (Florida), 2012, 3:58.35
  • NCAA Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 2018, 3:54.60
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:03.62
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 4:10.00
  • 2019 Champion: Emma Barksdale (South Carolina) – 4:01.52

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Tess Cieplucha (Tennessee)- 4:04.04
  2. Vanessa Pearl (Florida)- 4:05.52
  3. Alexis Yager (Tennessee)- 4:05.75
  4. Bailey Bonnett (Kentucky)- 4:06.36
  5. Alexis Preski (Alabama)- 4:06.83
  6. Jing Quah (Texas A&M)- 4:08.35
  7. Kathleen Golding (Florida)- 4:08.94
  8. Kelly Fertel (Florida)- 4:09.11

Tennessee’s Tess Cieplucha, who finished just off the podium in the 200 IM, led prelims in 4:04.04. The Vols will have 2 in the final as Alexis Yager dropped over 2 seconds, lowering her best from a 4:08.31 to a 4:05.75 to qualify 3rd.

The Florida women aren’t taking any risks in prelims this morning after a couple of swimmers narrowly missed making the championship final yesterday. One of those swimmers was Vanessa Pearl, who qualified 2nd here in 4:05.52. Pearl is the reigning runner-up in this event. Teammate Kathleen Golding, a freshman, broke 4:10 for the first time to qualify 7th in 4:08.94. Teammate Kelly Fertel returns to the final after qualifying 8th in 4:09.11.

Kentucky’s Bailey Bonnett dropped a second as she took 4th in 4:06.36. Alabama’s Alexis Preski took the 5th seed in 4:06.83 with a huge, 4-second drop. Texas A&M will have a swimmer in the final as Jing Quah (4:08.35) smashed her best by nearly 7 seconds.

MEN’S 400 IM

  • SEC Meet Record: Hugo Gonzalez (Auburn), 2018, 3:35.76
  • NCAA Record: Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 2017, 3:33.42
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 3:39.16
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 3:43.42
  • 2019 Champion: Bobby Finke (Florida) – 3:40.94

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Kieran Smith (Florida)- 3:40.54
  2. Grant Sanders (Florida)- 3:42.90
  3. Nicholas Perera (Alabama)- 3:43.61
  4. Bobby Finke (Florida)- 3:43.79
  5. Kevin Vargas (Florida)- 3:44.16
  6. Andrew Abruzzo (Georgia)- 3:44.46
  7. Clayton Forde (Georgia)- 3:44.43
  8. Miguel Cancel (Florida)- 3:45.25

The Florida Gators will undoubtedly take over the lead in the team race after this final, where they have 5 of the 8 finalists. Kieran Smith, the 2019 runner-up, leads the way in a lifetime best 3:40.54. Reigning champion Bobby Finke (3:43.79) and 2019 bronze medalist Grant Sanders (3:42.90) return as the Gators look for another podium sweep in this event. Freshman Kevin Vargas dropped 2 seconds for the 5th seed in 3:44.16. Miguel Cancel also dropped 2 seconds for the Gators to nab the 8th spot in 3:45.35.

Alabama’s Nicholas Perera, the 2019 B final winner, shaved a few hundredths off his best to qualify 3rd in 3:43.61. Andrew Abruzzo (3:44.46) and Clayton Forde (3:44.43) give Georgia the other 2 spots in the final. Texas A&M’s Benjamin Walker narrowly missed the top 8 as he was 9th in 3:45.41.


  • SEC Meet Record: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 2018/2019, 49.85
  • NCAA Record: Louise Hansson (USC)/Maggie MacNeil (Michigan), 2019, 49.26
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 50.92
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 52.34
  • 2019 Champion: Erika Brown (Tennessee) – 49.85

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Erika Brown (Tennessee)- 50.39
  2. Rhyan White (Alabama)- 50.97
  3. Trude Rothrock (Tennessee)- 51.53
  4. Sherridon Dressel (Florida)- 51.60
  5. Dakota Luther (Georgia)- 51.99
  6. Izzy Gati (Kentucky)- 52.02
  7. Christina Lappin (South Carolina)- 52.27
  8. Flora Molnar (Alabama)- 52.32

Reigning champion Erika Brown of Tennessee put up a 50.39 to lead prelims, breaking the former Pool Record of 50.62 set by Natalie Coughlin back in 2003. Teammate Trude Rothrock broke 52 for the first time to qualify 3rd in 51.53. Alabama’s Rhyan White dropped nearly a second in 50.97 for 2nd seed. The Crimson Tide will also have 2 in the final as Flora Molnar took 8th in 52.32.

Florida’s Sherridon Dressel took almost a second off her time as she qualified 4th in 51.60. Georgia’s Dakota Luther broke 52 for the first time as she took 5th in 51.99. Kentucky’s Izzy Gati (52.02) and South Carolina’s Christina Lappin (52.27) also swam bests to qualify for the championship heat.


  • SEC Meet Record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2017, 44.21
  • NCAA Record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 42.80
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 45.05
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 45.90
  • 2019 Champion: Maxime Rooney (Florida) – 45.06

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Camden Murphy (Georgia)- 45.54
  2. Kayky Mota (Tennessee)- 45.65
  3. Tyler Sesvold (Alabama)- 45.88
  4. Danny Kovac (Missouri)- 45.94
  5. Eric Friese (Florida)- 46.12
  6. Santiago Grassi (Auburn)- 46.17
  7. Daniel Hein (Missouri)- 46.18
  8. Will Davis (Florida)- 46.24

Georgia’s Camden Murphy, the 2019 bronze medalist, leads the way in 45.54, with Tennessee’s Kayky Mota closely behind in 45.65. That was a best for Mota by 3 tenths. They narrowly missed having 2 Volunteers in the final as Braga Verhage was 9th in 46.37.

Missouri and Florida each got 2 men into the final. Danny Kovac (45.94) and Daniel Hein (46.18) qualified 4th and 7th, respectively, for the Tigers. Florida freshman Eric Friese clipped a couple of tenths from his best in 46.12 for 5th. Teammate Will Davis was 8th in 46.24.

Alabama’s Tyler Sesvold dropped nearly a second as he broke 46 for the first time, qualifying 3rd in 45.88. Auburn’s Santiago Grassi, who just missed the podium in 2019, returns to the final with a 46.17 for 6th. Teammate Christian Ginieczki dropped over a second as he qualified for the B final in 46.42.


  • SEC Meet Record: Shannon Vreeland (Georgia), 2014, 1:41.83
  • NCAA Record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015, 1:39.10
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:42.98
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 1:45.12
  • 2019 Champion: Erin Falconer (Auburn) – 1:43.04

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Veronica Burchill (Georgia)- 1:43.74
  2. Anna Hopkin (Arkansas)- 1:44.67
  3. Ali Galyer (Kentucky)- 1:44.69
  4. Courtney Harnish (Georgia)- 1:44.84
  5. Meghan Small (Tennessee)- 1:44.87
  6. Karling Hemstreet (Texas A&M)- 1:45.20
  7. Katie Portz (Texas A&M)- 1:45.36
  8. Tjasa Pintar (Tennessee)- 1:45.47

Georgia’s Veronica Burchill had a breakthrough swim here, beating her former best for the first time since 2018. Burchill’s 1:43.74 was a best by half a second and her first swim under 1:44. Teammate Courtney Harnish, the 500 free champion and last season’s 200 free bronze medalist, qualified 4th in 1:44.84.

Tennessee’s Meghan Small, the 2019 silver medalist, put up a 1:44.87 to qualify 5th. Small is looking for her 2nd title after winning the 200 IM last night. She’s already swum a lifetime best here with her 1:43.21 to lead off the winning 800 free relay. Teammate Tjasa Pintar qualified 8th in 1:45.47. Texas A&M will also have 2 in the final with Karling Hemstreet (1:45.20) and Katie Portz (1:45.36).

Kentucky’s Ali Galyer, who also put up a best time with her 1:43.99 relay leadoff on Tuesday, qualified 3rd in 1:44.69. Teammate Riley Gaines just missed the final as she clipped her lifetime best in 1:45.52. Auburn’s Claire Fisch was a tenth behind to qualify 10th in 1:45.66. Freshman teammate Abbey Webb broke 1:46 for the first time to take 11th in 1:45.66. The Tigers will have 3 in the B final as Jessica Merritt (1:46.12) was 15th.


  • SEC Meet Record: Kieran Smith (Florida), 2020, 1:30.11
  • NCAA Record: Dean Farris (Harvard), 2019, 1:29.15
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:32.05
  • 2019 NCAA Invited: 1:34.21
  • 2019 Champion: Mikel Schreuders (Missouri) – 1:31.27

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Mark Theall (Texas A&M)- 1:32.48
  2. Brooks Curry (LSU)- 1:33.37
  3. Christian Sztolcman (Auburn)- 1:33.62
  4. Gerry Quinn (Florida)- 1:33.73
  5. Khader Baqlah (Florida)- 1:33.82
  6. Phil Costin (South Carolina)- 1:34.40
  7. Grant Norgan (Georgia)- 1:34.43
  8. (TIE 8th) Seth Bailey (Tennessee)- 1:34.44
  9. (TIE 8th) Josh Walsh (Tennessee)- 1:34.44

Texas A&M’s Mark Theall, who led the SEC coming into this meet, clipped his best time to lead prelims in 1:32.48. Theall is seeking his first title after earning silver in the 500 free last night. After dropping 3 seconds from his best to lead off the 800 free relay on Tuesday, LSU freshman Brooks Curry was within a few tenths of his best to qualify 2nd in 1:33.37. Auburn’s Christian Sztolcman was also within a few tenths of his best from the Tuesday relay leadoff. He qualified 3rd in 1:33.62.

Florida’s Gerry Quinn broke 1:34 for the first time in 1:33.73 for 4th.He was hundredths ahead of teammate Khader Baqlah (1:33.82). Baqlah, a senior, was the 2018 SEC Champion in this event and has earned a podium finish every year since he was a freshman.

South Carolina’s Phil Costin took the 6th spot in the final as he swam a 1:34.40. That’s about a tenth shy of his best from the leadoff leg of the 800 free relay. Georgia’s Grant Norgan dropped a second as he finished 7th in 1:34.43.

Just a hundredth behind Norgan, Tennessee’s Seth Bailey and Josh Walsh tied for the 8th spot in finals at 1:34.44. They’ll have to swim off or let the coaches decide who gets to swim in the championship final. Walsh dropped half a second, while dropped nearly 2 seconds.

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1 year ago

Looks like Florida women are going for it in prelims today. Good change of strategy over yesterday!

1 year ago

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE

1 year ago

Gators get 5 A finalists in the men’s 400 IM led by the easiest 3:40 I’ve ever seen from Kieran Smith. They are getting it done.

Reply to  Aquajosh
1 year ago

Gators are on FIRE!

Reply to  Aquajosh
1 year ago

Get Cancel to clean up that Back-Breast turn and he will move up nicely. Beautiful stroke, but goodness that turn was slow.

Jalen Stimes
Reply to  Aquajosh
1 year ago

That is incredible!!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Aquajosh
1 year ago

Anthony Nesty getting it done.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Yup — everyone doubted him and honestly disrespected him.

I have no team knowledge, but you have to wonder how many of the people who transferred simply left because they thought he couldn’t lead them to the promise land.

Good on him, one of the nicest and most humble people you’ll ever meet

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Anthony is a great coach and super nice, humble guy. Always been that way. Great job!

Lane 8
1 year ago

Not trying to nitpick but Golding actually went 4:08.94 and Kelly Fertel swam a 4:09.11 to qualify 8th.

1 year ago

Impressive 100 fly from Rhyan White. I thought she was a backstroker.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

Coley effect.

Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago


Will 37
1 year ago

Florida’s freshman Eric Friese with that no breath last 25 in his 100 fly.

1 year ago

Looks like the Lady Vols has all 6 of their entered swimmers qualified for finals in the 100 fly – 2 in A, 3 in B and 1 in C. Florida has 1. This should go a long way in overcoming the diving point power that Florida has. Looks pretty promising for Tennessee women!

Reply to  Justanarp
1 year ago

Girlie Vols are swimming GREAT and INSPIRED! The meet is over nobody will get in the way of the Coonskinned Crew.

Reply to  Justanarp
1 year ago

Yes, Vols will get some major points out of this event.

Reply to  Justanarp
1 year ago

Nice to see Kaitlyn Harty back in the pool

1 year ago

Is it me, or are there double lane lines between all of the lanes? I’ve never seen lane lines so perfect (ok, maybe Trials).

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

There are also double lane lines at Big 10s. I think it’s pretty standard at big meets these days.

Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

And also in greensboro for ACCs

Reply to  TBC
1 year ago

Also At MIAAs

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

But Worlds never has double lane lines from what I recall?

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
1 year ago

Probably just cause it’s a LCM pool… Bummer.

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
1 year ago

Per FINA rules “There shall not be more than one lane rope between each lane.”

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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