2023 Tennessee Invite: Day 3 Prelims Live Recap

by Riley Overend 22

November 17th, 2023 ACC, College, News, Previews & Recaps, SEC


Friday AM Heat Sheets

1650 Early Heats

Gretchen Walsh will swim the 100 free on Friday morning of the 2023 Tennessee Invite with her eyes on Simone Manuel‘s 45.56 American Record. After going a huge personal best in the 200 free and tying the all-time best in the 50 free earlier in the meet, she only needs to drop .05 seconds to match, and .06 seconds to surpass, the fastest-ever swim in short course yards.

The morning session will also feature a pair of big swims in the women’s 200 breast, where Alex Walsh of Virginia, the defending ACC Champion, and Mona McSharry of Tennessee, the defending SEC Champion, will race in separate heats. Along with Ella Nelson (also of Virginia) that should set up a huge showdown in short course finals.

Also keep an eye out for the 100 free of Jordan Crooks from Tennessee. While his 50 was good, his 200 on Thursday evening was great, breaking the Tennessee school record. Could that improved endurance pay off in the 100 for the 5th-place finisher at last year’s NCAA Championship meet?

Women’s 200 Back (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 2:07.45
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 2:10.73
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 2:13.59

Top 8:

  1. Tess Howley, Fr, Virginia – 2:13.40
  2. (TIE) Torie Buerger, Sr, Kentucky/Ella Bathurst, Jr, Virginia – 2:14.93
  3. Sophia Wilson, Sr, Virginia – 2:14.99
  4. Josephine Fuller, Jr, Tennessee – 2:15.65
  5. Grace Frericks, So, Kentucky – 2:15.76
  6. Ella Menear, Fr, Alabama – 2:17.16
  7. Reilly Tiltmann, Jr, Virginia – 2:18.56

The prelims long course times have not been as impressive as the finals short course times this week in Knoxville, with most of the field coming up short against their personal bests.

Virginia butterflier Tess Howley, on the quest for her 3rd NCAA Championship event, led the way in heats in a 2:13.40. After swimming the 100 fly (prelims only) and 100 back (prelims and finals) on Thursday, she is now scheduled for a 200 back/200 fly double on Friday.

While she’s likely to swim both butterfly events come championship season, the Virginia coaches, who are never afraid to experiment with event lineups, seem to be testing which double might be better.

Torie Buerger of Kentucky and Ella Bathurst of Virginia tied for 2nd in 2:14.93. The Kentucky women, racing in their first taper meet under new head coach Bret Lundgaard, have been having a good meet overall.

The only swimmer among the top 8 to beat her seed time was Virginia’s Sophia Wilson, who qualified 4th in 2:14.99 – but her seed time isn’t actually her best time. The British International swam 2:14.30 in 2019.

Men’s 200 Back (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:55.40
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 1:57.13
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 2:01.69

Top 8:

  1. Landon Driggers, Jr, Tennessee – 2:01.39
  2. Sam O’Brien, Jr, Virginia – 2:01.87
  3. Harrison Lierz, Sr, Tennessee – 2:02.59
  4. Tommy Hagar, Fr, Alabama – 2:02.74
  5. Will Thompson, Fr, Virginia – 2:02.79
  6. Colin Bitz, Jr, Virginia – 2:04.07
  7. Jake Marcum, 5Y, Alabama – 2:04.11
  8. Eric Stelmar, Sr, Alabama – 2:04.24

Former NCAA Division II All-American Landon Driggers had a big season last year in both short course and long course, and continued in the latter on Friday morning with a 2:01.39. That’s the best time of his career outside of this summer’s US National Championship meets.

Close behind him in prelims was Virginia’s Sam O’Brien in 2:01.87, which is just .08 seconds shy of his lifetime best. He has a better short course personal best than Driggers, while Driggers has the better long course best, so that should mean a good matchup in finals.

Tennessee had two of the top three finishers, including Harrison Lierz in 3rd in 2:02.59. Virginia’s men also have three in the final.

The other two slots are occupied by Alabama freshman Tommy Hagar (4th seed – 2:02.74) and Alabama 5th year Jake Marcum (7th seed – 2:04.11). Marcum has had a rough go early this year in dual meets (1:51-1:49-1:52 in yards), so this swim was his best so far.

Women’s 100 Free (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 53.37
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 55.28
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 55.79

Top 8:

  1. Camille Spink, Fr, Tennessee – 54.94
  2. Maxine Parker, Sr, Virginia – 55.59
  3. Aimee Canny, So, Virginia – 55.70
  4. Cadence Vincent, Fr, Alabama – 56.01
  5. Brooklyn Douthwright, Jr, Tennessee – 56.33
  6. Laura Littlejohn, Fr, Tennessee – 56.74
  7. Maddy Hartley, So, Arkansas – 56.84
  8. Gretchen Walsh, Jr, Virginia – 57.08 *swam butterfly

Fresh off a Pan Ams bronze medal in the 200 free last month, Tennessee freshman Camille Spink dipped under 55 seconds in the 100 free to lead prelims this morning. Her time of 54.94 was just a couple tenths shy of her personal-best 54.73 from last July.

Virginia snagged the 2nd and 3rd spots in prelims as senior Maxine Parker (55.59) snuck past sophomore Aimee Canny (55.70) for the runner-up finish. Parker has been as fast as 53.51 at U.S. Nationals this summer while Canny’s lifetime best sits at 54.60 from July.

Alabama freshman Cadence Vincent had a huge swim to place 4th in a personal-best 56.01, knocking more than a second and a half off her previous-best 57.53 from July.

Virginia junior Gretchen Walsh opted to swim the 100 fly during this 100 free race, placing 8th in 57.08. Her best time is a 56.34 from U.S. Nationals this summer; she then clocked a 57.58 to place 8th at the World Championships in July.

Men’s 100 Free (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 47.54
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 48.48
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 49.99

Top 8:

  1. Gui Caribe, So, Tennessee – 48.90
  2. Jordan Crooks, Jr, Tennessee – 48.92
  3. Kaique Alves, Jr, Alabama – 49.04
  4. Charlie Hawke, Jr, Alabama – 49.18
  5. Matt Brownstead, Sr, Virginia – 49.75
  6. Max Berg, Sr, Kentucky – 49.94
  7. Nikoli Blackman, Fr, Tennessee – 50.39
  8. Micah Chambers, Sr, Tennessee – 50.48

Tennessee sophomore Gui Caribe shot out fast in the 100 free and held on for a victory in 48.90 despite a late charge from junior teammate Jordan Crooks (48.92). With his win, Caribe also set a new LCM pool record in Knoxville.

Caribe was out in 23.41 and back in 25.49 while Crooks was 23.88 at the midway point before coming home in 25.04. Caribe’s best time is a 47.82 from last December. Crooks was slightly faster at Worlds this year with a 47.71.

Alabama junior Kaique Alves posted a big personal best with his 3rd-place finish in 49.04. The Brazilian sprinter shaved almost a full second off his previous-best 49.83 from June. Alves’ Crimson Tide teammate, junior Charlie Hawke, also tallied a new lifetime best with a 49.18 for 5th place. Hawke went 49.69 at Australian Trials earlier this year, and his best time was a 49.61 from last June.

Women’s 200 Breast (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 2:21.59
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 2:26.04
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 2:31.69

Top 8:

  1. Ella Nelson, 5Y, Virginia – 2:25.34
  2. Mona McSharry, Sr, Tennessee – 2:26.61
  3. Alex Walsh, Sr, Virginia – 2:26.89
  4. Alessia Ferraguti, 5Y, Arkansas – 2:28.72
  5. Avery Wiseman, Jr, Alabama – 2:31.07
  6. Anna Keating, Sr, Virginia – 2:32.41
  7. Emelie Fast, Fr, Tennessee – 2:32.79
  8. Emma Weber, So, Virginia, 2:33.44

Virginia fifth-year Ella Nelson prevailed in a stacked 200 breast battle against Tennessee senior Mona McSharry and Virginia senior Alex Walsh. Nelson touched 1st in 2:25.34, more than a second ahead of McSharry (2:26.61) and Walsh (2:26.89).

Nelson’s best time is a 2:24.80 from 2021, McSharry’s is 2:24.50 from May, and Walsh’s is 2:25.25 from June. Arkansas fifth-year Alessia Ferraguti was close to her lifetime best (2:28.14) with a 4th-place finish in 2:28.72.

Men’s 200 Breast (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 2:07.98
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 2:10.12
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 2:15.99

Top 8:

  1. Noah Nichols, Sr, Virginia – 2:16.83
  2. Michael Deans, Sr, Alabama – 2:17.25
  3. Will Tenpas, 5Y, Virginia – 2:18.18
  4. Jed Garner, Fr, Tennessee – 2:19.05
  5. Scooter Iida, Jr, Virginia – 2:21.11
  6. Matthew Heilman, So, Virginia – 2:21.86
  7. Lance Johnson, Fr, Kentucky – 2:22.87
  8. Joe Jordan, Sr, Tennessee – 2:23.33

Virginia senior Noah Nichols led prelims this morning in 2:16.83, five seconds off his personal-best 2:11.83 from June.

Alabama senior Michael Deans was within half a second of Nichols in 2:17.25 while UVA fifth-year Will Tenpas took 3rd place in 2:18.18. Dean’s lifetime best is a 2:16.78 from July, and Tenpas was just off his personal-best 2:17.96 from 2021.

Tennessee freshman Jed Garner was the only other swimmer sub-2:20 in prelims at 2:19.04, well off his personal-best 2:14.09 from July.

Women’s 200 Fly (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 2:06.67
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 2:10.10
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 2:13.69

Top 8:

  1. Tess Howley, Fr, Virginia – 2:11.04
  2. Sara Stotler, Jr, Tennessee – 2:13.58
  3. Lainey Mullins, Fr, Virginia – 2:14.16
  4. Maggie Schalow, Fr, Virginia – 2:15.79
  5. Abby Harter, Sr, Virginia – 2:16.80
  6. Maddy Hartley, So, Arkansas – 2:18.07
  7. Emma Weber, So, Virginia – 2:19.43
  8. Betsy Wizard, So, Arkansas – 2:19.64

After leading the 200-meter back at the beginning of Friday’s prelims session, Virginia freshman Tess Howley earned her second top seed of the morning with a 2:11.04 200 fly, more than two seconds ahead of the field. She still has a lot more left in the tank, too, with her lifetime best sitting at 2:06.85 from July.

Tennessee junior Sara Stotler claimed the 2nd seed with a 2:13.58 that was just a couple seconds off her personal-best 2:11.31 from June.

A pair of UVA freshman went 3-4 as Lainey Mullins clocked a 2:14.16 and Maggie Schalow posted a 2:15.79. Mullins has been as fast as 2:10.99 in July while Schalow’s best time is 2:13.13 from July.

Men’s 200 Fly (LCM) – Prelims

  • Converted NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:54.34
  • Converted 2023 NCAA Invite Time: 1:57.09
  • U.S. Olympic Trials Standard: 2:00.49

Top 8:

  1. Martin Espernberger, So, Tennessee – 1:55.01
  2. Ryan Merani, So, Kentucky – 2:01.17
  3. Sebastien Sergile, So, Virginia – 2:02.07
  4. Colin Bitz, Jr, Virginia – 2:02.32
  5. Gus Rothrock, Jr, Tennessee – 2:03.66
  6. Matt Styczen, Jr, Virginia – 2:04.36
  7. Aidan Crisci, So, Tennessee – 2:05.56
  8. Zane Rosely, Sr, Kentucky – 2:06.35

Tennessee sophomore Martin Espernberger took down the 200 fly program record with a personal-best 1:55.01, dropping two seconds off his previous-best 1:57.20 from May. In the process, the 19-year-old Austrian also hit his first Paris 2024 Olympic ‘A’ cut, dipping under the standard of 1:55.78.

Kentucky sophomore Ryan Merani was more than six seconds behind Espernberger with a runner-up finish in 2:01.17, a few seconds off his best time (1:58.51) from June. UVA sophomore Sebastien Sergile secured 3rd place in 2:02.07, also a few seconds off his best time (1:59.53) from July.

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NornIron Swim
6 months ago

The converted lcm a-cut times are ridiculous. 47.5 in the mens 100free?!
Someone let a temp do the algorithm…

Former Big10
Reply to  NornIron Swim
6 months ago

No, they used SS

Reply to  NornIron Swim
6 months ago

1.44.8 200 free… does anyone actually think the yards A cuts are equivalent to these times?? Because that assumes as many people as get the A cut in yards are, in theory, capable of going that time LC. And, just no.

6 months ago

Ella Nelson is going for it!

6 months ago

Espenberger 1:55.0😮‍💨

Former Big10
Reply to  Noah
6 months ago

Still not an auto invite, lolz

Reply to  Noah
6 months ago

How can it be an Olympic A time but not an NCAA auto invite 🤷🤦.

Ripper swim.

Reply to  SHRKB8
6 months ago

Yeh the LCM conversions are going to be almost exclusively for show, on top of the NCAA auto invite times (which have always been for show).

Anybody who’s hitting Olympic “A” times is going to get an invite in that same event. If by some miracle someone threads that needle, it’s probably a non-scorer at NCAAs anyway.

6 months ago

Wait is Spink injured or no?

Reply to  VFL
6 months ago

This is like the 8th question you’ve asked about Spink

6 months ago

did walsh really swim fly during the 100 free and still tied for 8th 💀

6 months ago

Gretchen Walsh just swam fly during the 100 free and almost won her heat.

tea rex
Reply to  Swammer22
6 months ago

Tied for 8th overall ??? Swim-off!

Reply to  tea rex
6 months ago

How would you like to be her swim-off competitor? If she does free in the swim-off and sets a record, does it count?

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
6 months ago

Lol if she breaks Sjostrom’s record in a swim-off at an NCAA meet in November just cancel the rest of the season. She won.

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Willswim
6 months ago

She is not remotely close to Sjostrom’s record.

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
6 months ago

I know lol. I’m not the one who brought up the idea of her breaking it.

Pieter H
Reply to  Wahooswimfan
6 months ago


She is not anywhere near breaking 100 free WR.

Reply to  Swammer22
6 months ago

Question is- is she swimming fly tonight?

6 months ago

Lots of added time onto these 200 back swims! Tiltmann?

Reply to  Analyswim
6 months ago

Tiltmann hasn’t really dropped in much since the 2021-22 season

6 months ago

McSharry was so impressive. She is going to be dangerous at the games.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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