2024 Women’s SEC Fan Guide: Stars, Depth Have Florida Eyeing Back-to-Back Titles




  • Women’s diving team event
  • Men’s 1-meter diving


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


  • 200 freestyle relay
  • 500 freestyle
  • 200 IM
  • 50 freestyle
  • Men’s 3-meter diving


  • 400 IM
  • 100 butterfly
  • 200 freestyle
  • Women’s 1-meter diving


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


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

2023 Final Standings

  1. Florida — 1255
  2. Tennessee — 950.5
  3. Kentucky — 946
  4. Alabama — 791
  5. LSU — 775
  6. Georgia — 756
  7. Auburn — 688
  8. South Carolina — 587
  9. Texas A&M — 583.5
  10. Arkansas — 530
  11. Missouri — 418
  12. Vanderbilt — 169

In the last three seasons, three different schools have been crowned SEC champions. Kentucky won in 2021, Tennessee in 2022, and then last season Florida won their first conference title since 2009. The Gator women had the title wrapped up heading into the last finals session, and have only continued to get stronger this season.

Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky were the top three teams in the conference last season (in reverse order of their most recent SEC title). The Gators are sitting comfortably at the top, bolstered by midseason performances that make it a safe bet that they will defend their crown. 

Swimmers to Watch

Alabama –  Avery Wiseman (Jr – breast/IM), Cadence Vincent (Fr — free), Kailyn Winter (Jr — free/fly)

Sprinter Jada Scott was having a big first season as a member of the Crimson Tide, but she’s out with a shoulder injury with no timeline for her return. That lowers Alabama’s ceiling from a standings perspective, but there are still reasons for the Crimson Tide to be excited.

That includes Scott’s fellow freshman sprinter Cadence Vincent, who is having a breakthrough season of her own. At midseason, Vincent hit a personal best of 22.10, which currently ranks her #3 in the SEC this season and would put her in the ‘A’ final. Kailyn Winter is another solid sprinter for the Crimson Tide and will be called upon to step up given Scott’s absence. The sprint core that was at the heart of Alabama’s success over the last three seasons have all moved on, which means that even with the progress of their younger swimmers, Alabama is firmly in rebuilding mode.

Another name to watch for is Avery Wiseman. Now a junior, Wiseman has been a steady presence for Alabama over the course of her career. She’s Alabama’s highest returning scorer; at 2023 SECs, she earned 65 points, highlighted by her 3rd place finish in the 100 breast.

Arkansas — Betsy Wizard (So – free), Anna Arnautova (Fr — diving), Alessia Ferraguti (Gr — breast)

The Razorbacks were set to only return 73 of their 268 individual points but Alessia Ferraguti (45 points) returns for a fifth-year. That helps Arkansas somewhat, but the fact remains that they aren’t returning the bulk of their individual points, not to mention the gaps they need to fill on their relays.

As a freshman, Betsy Wizard was the underclassmen standout for Arkansas and she, along with Ferraguti, is one of four scoring swimmers back for Arkansas this season. Wizard has one primary event (the 200 butterfly) and it would be a big boost for the team if she could final in one of her other events to go with her ‘A’ final caliber 200 fly where she was 5th last year. Anna Arnautova, a European Junior Champion from Ukraine, is also in a position to add to Arkansas’ total points by scoring on the boards.

Overall, things are little more crowded at the bottom of the standings this year but even so Arkansas has some work to do if the want to hold their 10th place finish from 2023.

Auburn – Meghan Lee (Sr – back/IM), Hannah Ownbey (Sr — IM/breast), Ellie Waldrep (Jr – back/fly), Kayla Walsh (Fr — diving)

The Auburn women’s rebuild hasn’t happened at the same speed as the men’s program, but they have been making steady gains each season; in 2023, they scored 104 points more than they did the year before. There’s reasons to be confident that they’ll continue on their improvement trend starting with the fact that they’re top 4 individual points scorers from last year all return. Meghan Lee led the way for the Tigers with 66 points and silver in the 100 fly, followed by Hannah Ownbey (49.5 points), Polina Nevmovenko (43 points), and Ellie Waldrep (40 points).

Those four look primed to continue to be leaders for Auburn. Lee ranks 3rd in the SEC in the 100 fly (51.91), 4th in the 200 back (1:53.69), and 10th in the 100 back (52.66). She was a ‘A’ finalist last year in the 100 fly/100 back, so if she can maintain her ranking in the 200 back and make a third ‘A’ final that would mean a lot for Auburn. For her part, Ownbey has already swum best times in both IMs this season and is looking to upgrade from one ‘A’ final (400 IM) and 2 ‘B’ finals (200 IM/200 breast) in 2023.

The Tigers scored 90 points on the boards this season and one diver to watch for them is freshman Kayla Walsh. She’s been improving throughout the season and getting more points from diving would be helpful for the Tigers.

Florida – Emma Weyant (Jr – free/IM), Bella Sims (Fr — free/IM/back), Izzy Ivey (Gr — free/back/fly), Molly Mayne (Fr — breast)

The Gator women made big improvements last season in order to capture the 2023 SEC title. Though they lost a crop of swimmers to the transfer portal, they’ve only gotten stronger thanks to the talent from their first-year swimmers. Tokyo Olympian Bella Sims and graduate transfer Izzy Ivey are the big names among the additions. Both are versatile swimmers that could contend for SEC titles in numerous events, not to mention the value they bring to the relays.

Relays where a discipline where Florida made big improvements last season, and they’ve been even better already this season. They’ve already broken school records in both the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays.

Putting Sims and Ivey on any roster with Emma Weyant would give you a solid core, but there are other additions that are really helping to shore up the Gators’ depth. Breaststroker Molly Mayne, has dropped almost five seconds from her first yards 100 breaststroke in September. Another freshman, Catie Choate, has made big improvements to her backstroke as well. Then, there’s Olivia Peoples, a returning swimmer, who’s reached new heights this season and has flown under the radar as she plays a huge part in the Gators success.

Georgia – Rachel Stege (Jr — free), Zoie Hartman (Gr – breast/IM), Eboni McCarty (Jr – free/back), Abby McCulloh (Jr – free)

Zoie Hartman has been a points scorer for years now. Eboni McCarty began to break through last season, scoring 62 points–the 3rd most on the team. She finished 3rd in the 100 backstroke with a personal best 51.35, which she just lowered to 51.14 at Georgia’s dual against Tennessee. Hartman and McCarty are both core pieces of this Georgia roster.

But the group to keep an eye on is their freestylers, particularly the 200 and above swimmers. Rachel Stege, Sloane Reinstein, Abby McCulloh, Dune Coetzeeand Shea Furse are capable of racking up a huge points total in the freestyle events. Stege had a big swim in the 500 free last season to earn the SEC title. At the midseason Georgia Invite, she challenged Sims for the win and swam a huge personal best of 4:32.87, which ranks #2 in the NCAA this season.

Coetzee is just behind her at #3 (4:35.29) as the Dawgs have three swimmers ranked in the top 8 and four in the top 12. Focusing on just the SEC, they own five of the top 8 in the 500 free and the top three in the 1650 freestyle (led by McCulloh’s 15:51.93).

As some of the teams that finished ahead of them in 2023 have questions swirling around them, this freestyle group looks primed to power Georgia up the standings.

Kentucky – Grace Frericks (So — free/back), Bridget Engel (Sr — breast), Denise Phelan (So — breast/IM), Lydia Hanlon (So — fly/back)

The Kentucky Wildcats are the big question mark in the conference. They are three years removed from the conference title now and finished 3rd last year just 4.5 points behind Tennessee. They’ve got a new head coach in Bret Lundgaard after coaching controversy dominated their offseason narrative.

They’re returning the fewest points among the recent SEC title winners and have graduated their big points scorers Caitlin Brooks, Gillian Davey, Izzy Gati, and Lauren PooleThat means that some names are going to have to step up for the Wildcats this season.

Grace Frericks has been reliable for them through the regular season. She scored 31 points last season and is in a position to make the 200 back ‘A’ final again with a 1:53.77 season-best (5th in conference). She’s also a made ‘C’ finals in the 100 back and 200 free last season and is in that range again this season. Senior breaststroker Bridget Engel is also in position to get back into the finals of both the 100/200 breaststroke. Two other names to keep an eye on are Denise Phelan and Lydia Hanlon. As freshmen they scored 46 and 31 points, respectively, for Kentucky. They’ve been solid this season but are sitting a bit further down the SEC rankings than where they placed at 2023 SECs. Watch for them to make their moves in prelims.

LSU –  Montserrat Lavenant (Sr – diving), Jenna Bridges (Jr — fly/free), Sofia Sartori (So — fly/back), Helle Tuxen (Sr — diving) 

It’s going to be challenging for LSU to replicate their performance from 2023 SECs. Lead by Maggie MacNeil and her 96 individual points, the Tigers won two relay titles and finished 5th with 775 points. MacNeil has graduated now and while the Tigers will likely regress from a total points perspective, there are still reasons for this squad to be excited about their potential this season.

To start with, they continue to have excellent divers who score on all three boards and rack up tons of points. Their highest scoring diver last year was Montserrat Lavenant, who earned 80 points courtesy of her 1st on the platform, 4th on 1-meter, and 8th on 3-meter. Other divers like Chiara Pellacani and Helle Tuxen were also big points scorers for the Tigers, though Pellacani has now transferred to Miami.

In the pool, their 200 fly champion, Jenna Bridges, returns while their 200 back champion Ella Varga is on the roster but hasn’t raced for LSU this season and is training and competing at home in Calgary. Bridges has had a quiet season in that event so far. She’s yet to break 2:00 this season and is 38th in the SEC with a 2:00.21. We’ll have to wait and see if that means that she’s shifted her attention to other events this season or if she’s got a big drop in store.

Sofia Sartori is the LSU swimmer making perhaps the biggest impression in the pool this year. As a freshman, Sartori scored just 12 points at SECs but she seems on the verge of a breakthrough this season. She’s swum PBs this season in her three primary events (100 fly/200 fly/200 back), as well as the 100 back. Her 1:55.24 200 fly is the highlight of the three and puts her 5th in the SEC this season; in 2023, she finished 15th.

Missouri – Taylor Williams (Jr — fly/free), Grace Hanson (So — free/fly), Sierra Smith (Sr — free),  Kamryn Wong (So – diving), 

Taylor Williams was primarily focused on sprint butterfly last season. But she broke through in the 200 fly at the SMU Classic, kicking off the season with a 1:56.65 personal best. She dropped more time a midseason, posting a 1:55.88, which would’ve qualified for the 2023 ‘A’ final–a huge improvement from her actual 38th place finish.

Missouri is in a tough spot this season. Last year, they finished 11th with 418 total points. 173 points came from individual events and they’ve lost 131 of those points this season. So, swimmers like Williams not only having breakthroughs this season but being able to back up those early season times at these championships will be crucial for them.

Their other returning individual point scorers are Grace Hanson (13 2023 points), Sierra Smith (11 2023 points), and Paige Striley (6 2023 points). The Tigers will need all of them at their best and will also be hoping that divers like sophomore Kamryn Wong can grab some points on the boards or that one of their newcomers will have something special in store.

South Carolina – Amy Riordan (So — free), Bella Pantano (Sr — back), Greta Pelzek (Jr — fly/IM), Nicholle Toh (Sr — fly/free)

Three South Carolina women made their NCAA debuts last season–Greta PelzekNicholle Toh, and Laura Goettler. All three return for the Gamecocks this season and look to once again make it back to NCAAs. But first, there’s SECs where the Gamecocks will be hoping that the three will big big points scorers. In 2023, they finished 8th (587 points), equaling their highest SEC conference finish in program history.

The butterfly duo of Pelzek and Toh is particularly strong. They’re ranked 6th/7th in the 100 fly and 2nd/10th in the 200 fly. They’ll both be aiming to make thier first 100 fly ‘A’ finals after finishing 9th and 11th in 2023. Toh owns the school record in 51.89. Meanwhile, Pelzek swam PB 52.10 at midseason to go with her 1:54.53 200 fly PB that’s made her a title contender after her 7th place last year.

The big breakout on the Gamecock roster is Amy Riordan, who swam a school record 1:44.31 in the 200 free at South Carolina’s dual with border rivals UNC. Riordan also swam a 100 free PB (49.59) at the same meet and her improvements in sprint freestyles are helpful not only for individual points but on the relays. Meanwhile, Bella Pantano continues to be a solid backstroker for the group. She’s made a big jump in the 200 back. Her personal best 1:54.20 from midseason makes her 7th fastest in the conference; in 2023, she just missed finals by finishing 25th (1:56.27).

Tennessee – Mona McSharry (Sr – breast), Brooklyn Douthwright ((Jr — free/back) Sara Stotler (Jr – free/fly/IM), Josephine Fuller (Jr – back/IM)

Like a few others in the SEC, Mona McSharry is at 2024 Worlds, which run from February 11th through 18th. That makes it a tight turnaround for McSharry to get back to the United States to race for Tennessee, though she’s entered on the psych sheets. Tennessee has also told SwimSwam the plan is for her to compete. The Irish native’s presence or absence will be a key factor in how Tennessee fares in the standings.

At midseason, McSharry reset her own SEC 100 breast record (56.87). She’s the defending SEC champion in both the 1000/200 breast, and was Tennessee’s highest scorer with 92 individual points. So, a lot is riding on McSharry’s presence (and her ability to transition back to yards) for Tennessee, especially if they have hopes of challenging Florida for the title.

Tennessee also has plenty of talent confirmed to be in attendance. Brooklyn Douthwright returns to defend her 200 freestyle title. Now a junior, Josephine Fuller had a breakout season last year, earning 2nd place in the 100 back/200 back/200 IM. It’ll be a challenge to improve on her backstroke finishes as there’s likely either Ivey or Sims in the mix, but Fuller is now a safe bet for 3 ‘A’ finals. Sara Stotler racked up 73 points last season, 3rd behind McSharry (92) and Fuller (84).

In short, the Vols have a ton of returning talent on the roster, which they’ve enhanced by adding newcomers like in-conference graduate transfer Katie Mack and freshman Camille Spink, both of whom could factor into Tennessee’s relays.

 Texas A&M – Chloe Stepanek (Sr – free), Olivia Theall (Sr – free/fly), Miranda Grana (Fr — back/fly), Hayden Miller (So — free)

What will the Aggies bring to the last SEC Championships for long-time coach Steve Bultman, who recently announced his plan to retire at the end of this season?

There are the usual suspects set to make their mark: Chloe Stepanek is ranked #3 in the SEC in the 200 free (1:43.98) and #4 in the 100 free (48.03). Olivia Theall sits 4th in both the 100 fly (51.96) and 200 fly (1:55.15), the latter of which is within four-tenths of her personal best from the 2022 Art Adamson Invite.

In addition to their returning core, they’ve got some exciting swimmers in their first seasons for the Aggies that could prove to be difference makers. Freshman Miranda Grana has been lighting it up for the Aggies throughout the regular season. She’s swum best times in all three backstroke distances this season. Her 51.67 100 backstroke puts her 4th in the SEC, and her 1:53.50 200 backstroke ranks her 3rd. The Aggies did not have a swimmer in either the 100 back ‘A’ or ‘B’ final, nor anyone in the 200 back ‘A’ final so they stand to gain alot from the improvements that Grana has made in her first season.

Hayden Miller transferred to Texas A&M this season after spending her freshman season in Gainesville. She finished in the top 8 for both the 500 free/1650 freestyle at 2023 SECs and would’ve been the Aggies highest placed finisher in both events. Her potential impact is limited compared to Grana’s because she’s a distance specialist, but still represents points gains for the Aggies which is crucial as they look to do better than last year’s 9th place.

Vanderbilt — Ellie Taliaferro (So – free), Sophia Kosturos (Gr – back/free), Kailia Utley (Jr – fly/back), Faith Knelson (Sr – breast)

Vanderbilt has had a solid season, and Ellie Taliaferro is one of the swimmers leading the way for them. The sophomore set a school record in the 100 free (50.24) at a January dual meet and was a part of both the 400 freestyle and 400 medley relays that broke school records at their midseason meet, the Gamecock Invitational.

Kailia Utley and Faith Knelson, school record holders in their own right, are also having strong seasons. They were the Commodores’ only two individual point scorers at 2023 SECs; Utley scored 6 points in the 200 fly and Knelson earned 9 across the 100/200 breast. There’s a large gap between Vanderbilt and the rest of the conference (249 points separated them from 11th place Missouri in 2023) but that gap could close a bit with the addition of graduate transfer Sophia Kosturos. Kosturous transferred from UCLA and she has best times that would earn her finals swims, making her a valuable asset for the Commodores.


200 Freestyle — The top five women in the conference are separated by 1.01 seconds. The Gator duo of Ivey (1:43.03) and Sims (1:43.04) are at the top of the conference but it seems unlikely that both will swim this event as it falls on a day with the 400 IM and 100 fly where they are both also favorites. What they choose to do does dictate some of this event’s excitement factor but even without both (or either) of them, this is still shaping up to be a close race. Five of last year’s ‘A’ finalists return including the top three Douthwright, Stepanek, and Micayla Cronk. But there are even more new challengers than just Sims and Ivey. Coetzee (who raced in Doha) and Reinstein are new threats from Georgia, and South Carolina’s Riordan is having a breakthrough season and shouldn’t be counted out of the race either.

100 Breaststroke — McSharry swam an SEC record at midseason, hitting 56.87 for the fastest time in the country this season. She’s the clear favorite here but things get murky after that (or if she’s tired after Worlds). Mayne has dropped four seconds during her first season in yards, going from a 1:02 to 58.68 at midseason. What does she have in store with more of a taper? Both the silver and bronze medalists from last season return as well, with Hartman ranked #3 this season (58.89) and Wiseman 6th (59.38). Tennesee’s Emelie Fast (59.07) and Arkansas’ Ferraguti (59.26) have also been 59-low this season, promising a close race in the final.

500 Freestyle — After Sims and Stege’s duel at the Georgia Fall Invite, the 500 freestyle feels like an obvious choice. Sims is one of the fastest 50 freestylers in history and has the advantage here. But, Stege’s shedding time left and right and if Sims isn’t on her ‘A’ game could take advantage and defend her title. After a few seasons of stagnation, the women’s 500 freestyle is becoming competitive again, as evidenced by the number of women who’d been sub-4:40 by midseason. The SEC is at the heart of that charge: six swimmers have been under that barrier already this season. Along with Sims and Stege, there’s Coetzee and Weyant lurking as a pair of 4:35s.

SwimSwam Picks

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

Florida’s performance as a team this season makes them an easy pick to retain the SEC championship crown. Things get murkier after that, though. Even if they are without McSharry, Tennessee’s got a solid squad that could hold onto 2nd, as of writing, the Swimulator  (which doesn’t account for diving or injuries) predicts that Georgia is going to take 2nd ahead of the Vols.

The door is certainly open for Georgia to climb the standings this season. They finished 6th last year behind Kentucky, Alabama, and LSU teams that have all lost major pieces. They’re set to rise, the question is if you think they have enough momentum to get past a Tennessee team that’s been consistent at SECs for the last few seasons.

Teams like Auburn, Texas A&M, and South Carolina have picked up enough steam that they’re also capable to taking advantage of other teams’ losses.

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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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