2021 Women’s SEC Championships: Day 4 Finals Live Recap

by Robert Gibbs 72

February 20th, 2021 College, News, SEC


  • Wednesday, February 17 – Saturday, February 20, 2021
  • W Swimming: Gabrielson Natatorium – Athens, GA (Eastern Zone)
  • W&M Diving: Mizzou Aqutics Center – Columbia, MO (Central Time Zone)
  • Defending Champion: Tennessee (1x) (2020 results)
  • Live results
  • Live Video – SEC Network
  • Championship Central
  • Psych Sheets

As we get going into the final session of the 2021 SEC Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships, the Florida Gators hold an 8-point lead over the Kentucky Wildcats. However, the Wildcats got the job done this morning, putting a whopping 9 swimmers into A-finals, compared to Florida’s 3. The upshot is that unless the Gators are able to dominate the 1650 this afternoon, Kentucky should win the meet by a comfortable margin.

One of the other big storylines for tonight will be last year’s individual champions looking to defend titles, as four of the five individual events will feature last year’s champions. Alabama’s Kensey McMahon (1650) and Rhyan White (200 back) and Georgia’s Dakota Luther (1:53.25) will all racing to repeat from lane 4, while last year’s 200 breast champion, Georgia’s Zoie Hartman, will be in lane 5, next to teammate Danielle Dellatorre


  1. Florida 779
  2. Kentucky 771
  3. Alabama 684
  4. Georgia 670
  5. Texas A&M 634
  6. Tennessee 633
  7. Arkansas 492
  8. Missouri 432.5
  9. Auburn 384
  10. LSU 315.5
  11. South Carolina 201
  12. Vanderbilt 124


  • SEC Meet Record: 15:36.52, Brittan MacLean (Georgia), 2016
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 15:52.41
  • 2020 Champion: Kensey McMahon (Alabama), 15:43.74

Top 3:

  1. Kristen Stege (Tennessee) – 15:47.72
  2. Kensey McMahon (Alabama) – 15:49.22
  3. Peyton Palsha (Arkansas) – 15:58.42

We said one of the storylines would be last year’s championships defending their titles, and in the first, event of the evening, last year’s champion, Kensey McMahon wasn’t quite able to repeat. Instead, Tennessee’s Kristen Stege went out fast and hung on. McMahon narrowed the gap on the second half, but it was enough, as Stege won 15:47.72 to 15:49.22, breaking a Tennessee record that was set last year by Amanda Nunan.

Florida ended up with Ault and Bauer in the top 8, and another four swimmers in the top 16, helping pad their lead over Kentucky, although it may not be enough, as Kentucky has nine swimmers in the next four A-finals.

Early heats:

Florida senior Taylor Ault led with the early heats with a 16:05.09, a time that would’ve finished 6th overall year. Beyond Ault, Florida finished 4th, 7th, 9th, and 12th in the early heats, guaranteeing them that all five swimmers will score. Last year, Ault finished 7th overall with a time of 16:08.10. This is where Florida could have really used last year’s 3rd-place finisher Leah Braswell, who is out of the meet due to what Florida termed “health concerns.”

Florida should still have Elise Bauer and Tylor Mathieu in the final heat, and some big swims by them could keep the Gators in the team race, although they’d need a lot to break right to have a chance to run down the Wildcats.

A few of last year’s top finishers weren’t able to match their times this year. Tennessee’s Amanda Nunan, who placed 2nd last year with a time of 15:53.39, currently sits at 3rd with a time of 16:10.39. Auburn’s Emily Hetzer was also well off last year’s time, swimming to a 16:21.21 this afternoon after going 15:58.28 last year, which earned her 4th place.


  • SEC Meet Record: 1:48.15, Rhyan White (Alabama), 2020
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:50.50
  • 2020 Champion: Rhyan White (Alabama), 1:48.15

Top 3:

  1. Rhyan White (Alabama) – 1:48.55
  2. Sophie Sorenson (Kentucky) – 1:50.94
  3. Caitlin Brooks (Kentucky) – 1:51.96

Alabama’s Rhyan White defended last year title, and won her third individual event of the meet, with a dominant tonight. While she didn’t quite hit last year’s time of 1:48.15, her 1:48.55 was enough to win by well over two seconds.

The Wildcats got 2nd and 3rd place finishes from Sophie Sorenson (1:50.94) and Caitlin Brooks (1:51.96). That was a big swim for the junior Sorenson, whose previous best time was a 1:52.01 from this morning’s prelims, and that moves her to #4 in the nation, leapfrogging Brooks. Sorenson took 7th last year, while Brooks took 5th. With a total of seven finalists in this event, Kentucky now takes a 881-839 lead over Florida. Barring some combination of disastrous swims and a relay DQs, Kentucky will now almost certainly win the meet.


  • SEC Meet Record: 45.83, Erika Brown (Tennessee), 2020
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 47.18
  • 2020 Champion: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 45.83

Top 3:

  1. Morgan Scott (Alabama) – 47.50
  2. Maxine Parker (Georgia) – 47.75
  3. Cora Dupre (Alabama) – 47.90

With 2020 champion Erika Brown having graduated, this was the only individual event of the evening not featuring a defending champion. Into the void swam Alabama’s Morgan Scott, who hit a lifetime best en route to earning the win with a 47.50. Scott transferred from Indiana after the 2019 season, meaning that, with Stege’s victory, two of tonight’s three individual champions have been transfers. This is Alabama’s first SEC title in this event since Rania Elwani won in 1996, and Scott’s time also set a new Crimson Tide record.

Georgia’s Maxine Parker took 2nd in 47.75, making her the 14th-fastest freshman ever in the event, and Alabama’s Cora Dupre (another transfer from Indiana) took 3rd in 47.90.


  • SEC Meet Record: 2:04.62, Sydney Pickrem (Texas A&M), 2018
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 2:06.84
  • 2020 Champion: Zoie Hartman (Georgia), 2:06.20

Top 3:

  1. Zoie Hartman (Georgia) – 2:05.05
  2. Gillian Davey (Kentucky) – 2:05.59
  3. Danielle Dellatorre (Georgia) – 2:06.96

Georgia sophomore Zoie Hartman successfully defended her title in this event, clocking a 2:05.05 that was over a second faster than her time last year of 2:06.20, which was also her previous best time. Teammate Danielle Dellatorre took 3rd in 2:06.96, just shy of her personal best of 2:06.81 from December. That was a bit of redemption swim fro Dellatorre, who DQ’d in the 100 breast prelims yesterday.

Kentucky sophomore Gillian Davey broke up the Bulldog bash with a 2:05.59, knocking over two seconds off of her lifetime best. The Wildcats now lead 1012-898, making their lead insurmountable unless as long as they finish all of their remaining swims legally.

Alabama has moved into 3rd, leading Georgia 859-831, with Tennessee just another 3 points behind.


  • SEC Meet Record: 1:52.19, Cammile Adams (Texas A&M), 2014
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:53.20
  • 2020 Champion: Dakota Luther (Georgia), 1:52.47

Top 3:

  1. Dakota Luther (Georgia) – 1:52.04
  2. Courtney Harnish (Georgia) – 1:53.18
  3. Taylor Pike (Texas A&M) – 1:54.19

Kentucky’s Izzy Gati went out hard, trying to get the Wildcats their first win of the night, but she couldn’t quite hold the pace. Instead, Georgia’s Dakota Luther surged on the second half of the race, ultimately winning by over a second with a time of 1:52.04. That’s a lifetime best and a new SEC meet record for the Bulldog junior, and also moves her to #1 in the nation this season. Luther’s two SEC titles now match the two earned by her mother, Olympian Whitney Hedgepeth, when she was at Florida (although in different events).

Fellow Bulldog Courtney Harnish shaved 0.04s off of her lifetime best to take 2nd in 1:53.18, and Texas A&M’s Taylor Pike finished 3rd in 1:54.19, about three-tenths off of her lifetime best.

Gati ended up 7th in 1:56.00, but that doesn’t matter too much in the overall scheme of things, as Kentucky now leads by over 100 points, meaning they could not swim the 400 free relay and still win the meet.

Team Scores

1. Kentucky, University of 1065
2. University of Florida 962
3. Georgia, University of 931
4. University of Alabama 880
5. Tennessee, University of, Knox 845
6. Texas A&M University 768
7. Missouri 523.5
8. University of Arkansas 518
9. Auburn University 416
10. Louisiana State University 293.5
11. South Carolina, University of, 242
12. Vanderbilt University 124

Barring DQs, it looks like most of the team races have been decided, with the possible exception of the battle for 7th, where Arkansas sits only 6 points behind Missouri.


  • ACC Meet Record: 3:09.18, Auburn, 2020
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 3:14.61
  • 2020 Champion: Auburn, 3:09.18

Top 3:

  1. Alabama – 3:10.28
  2. Georgia – 3:12.08
  3. Tennessee – 3:13.10

With two of the top three swimmers in the 100 free, the Crimson Tide had to be considered the favorites to win this event, and sure enough, they did, throwing down a 3:10.28, the fastest time in the nation this season by a second.

All four of Alabama’s swimmers were under 48, with Kalia Antoniou leading off in 47.93, faster than she swam this evening in the individual event, followed by Scott (47.35), Flora Molnar (47.74), and Dupre (47.26).

Georgia took 2nd in 3:12.08, with 200 breast champion Hartman anchoring in 47.52, the fastest non-Alabama split in the field. Tennessee took 3rd in 3:13.10, thanks to Tjasa Pintar‘s 47.53 anchor leg.

All 12 teams finished legally, and Missouri took 4th to Arkansas’ 8th, meaning this relay ultimately didn’t affect the team standings, and the Kentucky Wildcats are the SEC Champions for the very first time in school history.

Final Scores

1. Kentucky, University of 1124
2. University of Florida 1071
3. Georgia, University of 999
4. University of Alabama 973
5. Tennessee, University of, Knox 934
6. Texas A&M University 839
7. Missouri 614.5
8. University of Arkansas 595
9. Auburn University 510
10. Louisiana State University 390.5
11. South Carolina, University of, 276
12. Vanderbilt University 154

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3 years ago

9th place for the Auburn, When is Johnny going to march home???????

Samuli Hirsi
3 years ago

As I am no math wiz was just thinking, with this points system it heavily favours big team rather than one key recruit, altho that helps in relays. Was just thinking what kind thoughts one can gather while watching the teams race, like thinkin how Auburn falls down, and what are the reason, few recruiting misses, few sickness etc…. How much can great coach correct those issues with getting the whole team swim well, not just some jewels.

War damn
Reply to  Samuli Hirsi
3 years ago

Well the issues with Auburn aren’t sicknesses. That’s the team he’s been left with after the upperclassmen that have quit or swimmers that have transferred. You can’t blame the senior class graduating as the reason for the horrendous relays

Former Auburn fan
Reply to  War damn
3 years ago

Yeah you can blame Gary for driving everyone away from the team. It’s no ones fault but his own

3 years ago

Congratulations to Kentucky! They came out swinging on Friday and carried that momentum all the way through to their first-ever SEC title. Lars is a fantastic coach.

Florida has a lot to be proud about. Ashley Mccool just became Brian Gillooly’s first SEC champion, and she got Diver of the Meet. In three years as head coach, Poppell has three 2nd place SEC finishes. They showed a couple places where a lack of depth really hurt them. The additions they’re getting next year will help not only fill some holes, but especially with keeping the relays from being spread so thin. When you have your team’s 2nd best 400 IMmer and a mile scorer swimming the 200/400 free relays,… Read more »

3 years ago

Are there 2 Leah Smiths?

Former Auburn fan
3 years ago

Gary Taylor is really showing the swimming world who is boss

3 years ago

Congratulations to Coach Lars Jorgensen and all the Kentucky Wildcat Swimmers & Divers! Lars gets my early vote for “Coach of the Year” and the athletes accomplished something for Kentucky that I never thought was possible. The fact that UK won the Southeastern Conference is one of the most remarkable things I’ve seen in a long time.

Reply to  Guerra
3 years ago

They are great team! they finally broke through! 😁

3 years ago

Guess the highlight of Auburn swimmers’ careers is that professional “commitment” picture taken on their recruiting trips!

Reply to  leisurely1:29
3 years ago

Lol. At least they had Jewels this year. If she graduated last year it would’ve been horrid

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

No it was still horrid

Former Auburn fan
Reply to  SeeSee
3 years ago

I don’t get the down votes that was a horrid showing for auburn… 9th place for a school like auburn is terrible

3 years ago

Great meet by Kentucky! The SEC is showing why it’s the tightest conference out there.

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