2023 SEC Champs Preview: Florida Men Eye 11th Straight Title, Race Behind Them Heats Up

2023 SEC Championships – Men



  • Men’s 1-meter diving
  • 200 medley relay
  • Women’s 3-meter diving
  • 800 freestyle relay


  • 200 freestyle relay
  • 500 freestyle
  • 200 IM
  • 50 freestyle
  • Women’s 1-meter diving


  • 400 IM
  • 100 butterfly
  • 200 freestyle
  • Men’s 3-meter diving


  • 200 butterfly
  • 100 backstroke
  • 100 breaststroke
  • Women’s platform diving
  • 400 medley relay


  • 1650 freestyle
  • 200 backstroke
  • 100 freestyle
  • 200 breaststroke
  • Men’s platform diving
  • 400 freestyle relay

2022 Final Standings

  1. Florida – 1414
  2. (TIE) Tennessee – 938
  3. (TIE) Alabama – 938
  4. Georgia – 919
  5. Texas A&M – 865.5
  6. Auburn – 827.5
  7. Missouri – 716.5
  8. Kentucky – 600
  9. LSU – 505
  10. South Carolina – 417.5

In the SEC the Florida Gators have been building a dynasty akin to the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12. Even after losing Kieran Smith and Bobby Finke to graduation, they look as strong as they ever have and are in prime position to claim an eleventh title in a row.

Behind them though, things are heating up. Last year, there was a three way race for second between Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, with the Crimson Tide and Volunteers ending up in a tie for second with 938 points. With Luca Urlando injured, expect the Dawgs to be more involved in a battle to retain their position in the top four against rising teams like Auburn and Texas A&M.

SECs runs as a five day meet with the action kicking off on Tuesday evening with two diving events, the 200 medley relay, and the 800 freestyle relay. Because of the extra day, the meet has a slightly different order of events than usual, so make sure to check the schedule of events.

Swimmers To Watch

Alabama – Derek Maas (Sr – breast), Victor Johansson (Gr – distance free), Matthew Menke (Sr – back/IM), Charlie Hawke (So – free)

It’ll be tough for Alabama to keep up with a Tennessee team that’s made big improvements this season (especially in the sprints), but the Crimson Tide have some firepower of their own. They’ll be led by seniors Derek Maas and Matthew Menke, who were the teams top two scorers last year with 92 and 71 individual points. However, it was their now sophomores who were their top scoring class, so it will be interesting to see what they can do with another year of experience under their belts. Charlie Hawke in particular could do some real damage.

One big addition for them this season is USC transfer Victor Johansson, who’s already broken the school records in the 500 and 1650 freestyle with times worthy of an ‘A’ final in the 500 (4:14.34) and winning the 1650 (14:39.63) at last year’s SECs. Johansson’s potential in the mile is a big get for Alabama, who’s highest finisher in the event last year was 25th.

Auburn – Reid Mikuta (Jr – breast), Aidan Stoffle (Sr – fly/back), Nate Stoffle (So – fly/back), Kalle Makinen (Fr – sprint free)

Auburn has been rolling since the 2022 championship season; expect them to rise higher than their sixth place finish in 2022. The four swimmers who will be key for them are Reid Mikuta, Aidan and Nate Stoffle, and Kalle Makinen. Mikuta finished third in the 100 breast last year, and this year has the fastest time in the conference with a 51.14 (which also stands as #2 in the nation). The Stoffle brothers are capable of doing damage in both fly and backstroke, while the Finnish freshman Makinen has established himself as one of their top freestyle sprinters. Combined, the four are also capable of wickedly fast medley relays as well, which will be important as they look to keep up their hot streak.

Florida – Josh Liendo (Fr – free/fly), Adam Chaney (Jr – free/back), Macguire McDuff (So – free), Eric Friese (Sr – fly/free)

One of the reasons that the Gators are favored to hold onto their winning streak is that not only did they win last year by their largest margin of victory ever (476 points), but even without factoring in their fifth-years they return 1002 of their 1476 points, which is about 70%. With names like Adam Chaney, Macguire McDuff, Jake Mitchell, Eric Friese, Dillon Hillis, and Kevin Vargasthe Gators are an incredibly deep team that is built for a conference championship.

That doesn’t even get into the boost that Josh Liendo gives them. The Canadian sprinting powerhouse has been great for the Gators in his freshman season, posting bests of 18.83/41.70/45.79 in the 50 free/100 free/100 fly. He gives the Gator relays a huge boost, especially as they chase down the legendary U.S. Open record in the 200 free relay.

Georgia – Jake Magahey (Jr – free), Ian Grum (Sr – back/free), Dillon Downing (Sr – free), Kevin Li (Gr – diving)

Urlando’s injury hurts Georgia’s chances in the team race in a big way. He scored 96 individual points last year, and Matt Sates contributed 92. Subtracting those 188 points from their expected return of 573 puts them at less returning points than surging teams like Auburn and Texas A&M.

However, there are still plenty of swimmers on the Georgia roster capable of making noise here, highlighted by distance freestyler Jake Magahey. With both Smith and Sates gone, Magahey takes aim at his first SEC title in the 500 freestyle. Ian Grum holds the fastest 200 backstroke time in the NCAA this season in 1:38.84, and Dillon Downing has been strong as well and will be an important piece for their relays.

Though they’ve lost Urlando and Sates’ points, the Dawgs added graduate diver Kevin Li. That’s big for them because Georgia only scored 18 diving points at SECs last year; Li alone scored 43.

Kentucky – Mason Wilby (Gr- fly/IM/free), Levi Sandidge (Fr – distance free/IM), Max Berg (Jr – free/IM), Sam Duncan (Jr – diving)

Diving will be key for Kentucky, as they boast one of the strongest diving groups in the conference. Last year, they underperformed, with Sam Duncan failing to score on any of the boards. He’ll be eager to bounce back, and the Wildcats will need him to, as they’ve lost Zhang Mingli and Rodrigo Romero.

In the pool, Mason Wilby will race in his fifth and final SEC championships. Last year, he made three ‘A’ finals and factored on four relays, with his highest finish coming in the 200 fly with third. Max Berg will be an important part of the Wildcats’ attack, he scored 43 individual points last year even with adding time from prelims to finals in two of his events. Of course, we can’t forget about Levi Sandidge, the freshman distance freestyler who could pass Berg to become Kentucky’s high point scorer. Sandidge has already broken program records during his time at Kentucky, though he will have to fight through a very deep Florida group to reach the podium in his primary events.

LSU – Brooks Curry (Sr – sprint free), Mitch Mason (Jr – breast)

Without Juan Hernandez‘s 91 points, the LSU Tigers need to be careful or they’ll be caught by South Carolina. However, they do still have Brooks Curry, the defending NCAA champ in the 50 and 100 freestyle, who last year raked in 88 individual points at this meet. Curry has a way of getting his hand on the wall first, but sprint free in the SEC is incredibly crowded this year, so he’ll be challenged to repeat his finishes (second in the 50/200 free, first in the 100).

Outside of Curry, Mitch Mason will bring in some points in the 100 breaststroke, where he finished seventh last year and has a season best of 53.33.

Their women’s relays have taken a massive leap forward this season–we’ve been expecting the same of the men and this could be their moment. Graduate transfer Noah Cumby will be key here; his best of 43.28 in the 100 free would’ve only landed him in the ‘C’ final but is a big boost for LSU’s 400 free relay, which missed qualifying for NCAAs by only 1.08 seconds last season.

Missouri – Jack Dahlgren (Gr – free/back/fly), Clement Secchi (Gr – fly/back), Ben Patton (Sr – IM/breast)

The fifth-year duo of Jack Dahlgren and Clement Secchi form a solid two-pronged attack for Missouri, who finished a disappointing seventh last season when they seemed primed for an excellent meet. Dahlgren racked up 75 points last year, highlighted by fifth place finishes in the 200 free and 200 back. He’s already been faster in the 200 back this season than his SEC times, clocking 1:40.66 at a January dual. Secchi leads the conference with his 1:41.81 200 fly, and should earn points in his other events, likely some combination of 200 free/100 fly/100 back/200 back. Along with senior IM/breastroker Ben Patton, who earned 56.5 points last year, they’ll lead a relatively young Mizzou team.

South Carolina – Patrick Groters (Sr – breast/IM), Manny Vazquez Bas (Sr – diving), Michael Laitarovsky (so – back)

South Carolina finished last in the conference in 2022, but it was still a big year of improvement for them, as they finished only 87.5 points behind LSU compared to 2021 when they were almost 200 points back. Their now-senior class played a huge part in that effort, bringing in 119.5 of the team’s 159.5 individual points. Patrick Groters and Manny Vazquez Bas were leads last year, scoring 30 and 27 points, respectively. The Gamecocks will look for them to lead the way again this year.

Michael Laitarovsky is another name from South Carolina to watch–at midseason, he took down his school record in the 100 backstroke in 45.92, which would have moved him up from eighth into fifth last year.

Tennessee – Jordan Crooks (So – free/fly), Gui Caribe (Fr – free/fly), Jarel Dillard (Gr – breast), Bryden Hattie (Jr – diving)

Jordan Crooks‘ breakout last year came at SECs, when he ripped an 18.53 50 freestyle, becoming the fastest NCAA freshman of all time. In the year since, Crooks has only continued improving, bursting onto the international scene with a gold in the 50 free at SC Words, throwing down consistently fast times in yards, and moving into a tie with Bjorn Seeliger for second fastest 50 free performer ever in 18.27. He’ll be a major force for Tennessee at this meet.

The other half of the Vols’ dynamic 1-2 sprint free punch is Gui Caribe, a freshman who has quickly established himself as one to watch. He was new to yards swimming this year but adjusted quickly and now holds lifetime bests of 18.91 in the 50 free and 41.44 in the 100 free.

Pair Crooks’ and Caribe with their stellar breaststroke and diving corps, then factor in that Tennessee historically goes all in for SECs (though head coach Matt Kredich says that the team’s focus this year is the NCAA Championships) and look for the Vols to take sole ownership of second place this year.

Texas A&M – Baylor Nelson (Fr – IM/back), Anze Fers Erzen (Sr – IM/back), Alex Sanchez (Jr – breast/fly), Andres Puente Bustamante (Sr – breast)

After a down 2021-22 season, things are looking up in College Station. The Aggies had a huge performance at their midseason invite, which should give them a lot of confidence heading into SECs. Baylor Nelson, the #1 recruit in his high school class, has adapted well to college life, logging personal bests of 1:41.83/3:38.39 in the IMs which are top of the SEC. Along with Nelson, Anze Fers Erzen and Andres Puente Bustamante form a strong IM core for the Aggies: Erzen sits fourth in the conference in the 200 IM (1:43.36) and second in the 400 IM (3:39.05), with Bustamante fifth and sixth in those respective events.

Outside of the IMs, another Aggie to keep an eye on is Alex Sanchez, who is a serious threat in the breaststroke events. He hit lifetime bests of 51.90 in the 100 and 1:51.09 in the 200, the latter of which makes him the top seed in the conference and third on the national level.

The Aggies finished fifth last year and should be right in the mix with Auburn to jump over Georgia and possibly Alabama.


50 and 100 Freestyle: The sprints are absolutely stacked and should be the marquee events of the men’s meet. The 50 free has been exceptionally fast already this year, with a record breaking seven men under 19 seconds after midseason invites. Four of those men–Crooks, Liendo, Caribe, and Curry–swim in the SEC, setting up for an absolute battle to stand on the top of the podium. Those four will face off in the 100 free as well, where Crooks and Caribe currently hold the two fastest times in the country (41.17 and 41.44), with Liendo, Curry, and McDuff also under 42 seconds.

500 Freestyle: It’ll be a battle of the Jakes in the 500 freestyle. Florida’s Jake Mitchell will get his first taste of SEC Championship action here, and he could be the main threat to Jake Magahey‘s first SEC title in the event. On paper, it looks unlikely, as Mitchell’s best of 4:12.88 is well back of Magahey’s 4:06.71, but that’s from Big Tens last year. Even if the focus is NCAAs, this will be our first real look at what Mitchell can do with a season of Florida training and some rest. Speaking of Florida, this event is a perfect example of how ridiculously deep they are, especially in distance freestyle. Last year, five Gators made the ‘A’ final and it could be the same dominant display this year with Mitchell plus Alfonso MestreOskar Lindholm, and Tyler Watson all back.

100 Breaststroke: Reid Mikuta has asserted himself as the favorite in this event with his midseason time of 51.14. However, there are several other athletes who could take the title here, including defending champion Derek Maas, Tennessee’s Jarel Dillard, and Florida’s trio of Julian Smith, Aleksas Savickas, and 2021 champion Dillon HillisThere’s an argument for any of these swimmers to walk away with the title and being able to say that about six different swimmers automatically makes this race a must watch.


  1. Florida
  2. Tennessee
  3. Auburn
  4. Texas A&M
  5. Alabama
  6. Georgia
  7. Missouri
  8. Kentucky
  9. LSU
  10. South Carolina

Florida looks set to continue their reign at the top of the conference. Things will get interesting from there though. Based on the way they’ve swum this season, Tennessee should take sole control of second spot.

It’s muddy waters in the middle of the conference: Auburn and Texas A&M have had great seasons so far and have given no indication that they’re about to slow down. Auburn is thriving under 2nd year head coach Ryan Wochomoruka, and seem ahead-of-schedule in their rebuilding process. On paper, Alabama is way back of the other two; last year, Alabama and Auburn struggled at SECs, while Texas A&M out-performed their seeds on average. Still, Auburn is in a different place, just 12 months later, and this feels like a year for them to go-for-broke at SECs to try and repair the program’s credibility.

That all needs to be weighed against a Georgia team that’s lost a lot of individual points, to say nothing of the value Urlando brought to their relays. How heavily you weigh that loss is the key factor deciding how things will shake out between these four. When using last year’s scores as a reference point, keep in mind that Auburn disqualified their 200 medley relay last year and if they don’t make that mistake again that relay will bring in huge points for them.

In the bottom half of the conference, we’ve predicted teams to finish similarly to how they did last year, but just looking at the prediction doesn’t show how close those battles could be. Missouri and LSU rely on a few athletes for the bulk of their points, Kentucky has diving, and South Carolina is looking to continue their momentum from last season. There’s a world in which South Carolina catches LSU, which is part of what’s so exciting about this conference–tight races all the way down the standings always make for fun meets.

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1 year ago

When does women’s preview and psych sheets come out? Meet starts tomorrow

Old Bruin
1 year ago

Noticing Jungbluth front in center of the SEC champs photo above…I assume Florida is just -1 coach this season, waiting patiently for the Dr Pepper Swim Coach Carousel this summer?

Former Big10
1 year ago

Any new names appearing on these rosters?

1 year ago

Bold prediction,
Jordan crooks hits 17.9

Reply to  Fish
1 year ago

Agree… maybe not at SECs but by the end of the season – I’m with you.

Reply to  Fish
1 year ago

Bold. Bit of an insult to Jordan.

1 year ago

Which relay is going to be the hardest for Florida to defend their title in? Perhaps Hawke, Piotrowski, Auerbach, and Alves for Bama touch the wall first on day 1, in the 800 free relay?

Reply to  RTR
1 year ago

Agreed. The 4 other Florida relays are untouchable and all finish top 3 at NCs

Reply to  RTR
1 year ago

Without Freeman or Smith the 800 free relay is probably their weakest overall, but TN might put up a fight in the 200 free relay

Reply to  RTR
1 year ago

Tennessee will be tough in the 400 free relay as well. 41 lows from Crooks and Caribe will be difficult to overcome, regardless of how good Liendo is

1 year ago

i know georgia lost 2/3 of their best swimmers, but their dual meet depth this year has honestly impressed me which should translate well to scoring at SECs. guys like Wesley Ng, Zach Hils, and Andrew Abruzzo will be the key

i have a feeling they finish better than 6th, above what teams remains a question

Former Big10
Reply to  Andrew
1 year ago

A n M hasn’t looked that great, no sprinters. South Carolina is cannon fodder. Missouri has been trending down for the last few, and doesn’t have great depth.

FL still seems to be a cut above the rest. Alabama/TN just a step behind, with Auburn close behind. LSU is a one man show, and Kentucky is below average.

Georgia is 4th imop.

Last edited 1 year ago by Former Big10
Reply to  Former Big10
1 year ago

They were 4th last year and you think losing Sates and Luca doesn’t hurt them in the standings….not individually or relay wise! Who did they add to make up those points?

Former Big10
Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

They added a good diver and sprint fly/back guy. No title winners, sure, but their depth will show out.

Reply to  Andrew
1 year ago

Predictions for Georgia at NCAAs? How optimistic are you for them there?

Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

they will probably finish 11-13 tbh, obviously well outside of the tier of top 7. They’ll be fighting with Tenn, UVA, VT, TAMU, OSU, Bama and Auburn tier and likely finish in the lower end of those 7

1 year ago

Another showdown to watch is the 200 Back. Grum (Georgia) went a 1:38.84 at mid season and Dahlgren’s (Missouri) best is 1:38.85

1 year ago

Florida taking a hit with Trey Freeman’s retirement. Should still win, but the distance group doesn’t look quite as crazy as last year

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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