AAC Record Breaker Kristen Stege Transferring to Tennessee

American Athletic Conference (AAC) Champion Kristen Stege will transfer to the University of Tennessee after a breakout freshman season at East Carolina University.

Stege made headlines in February when she won the AAC title and broke the conference record in her first-ever attempt at the 1650 yard freestyle.

Stege’s time of 16:11.96 earned her an NCAA Championship invite as the 28th seed in the mile. She was East Carolina’s only qualifier for a meet that wound up being canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It was a really hard decision and I enjoyed my freshman year at ECU; however, I was looking to expand my academic and athletic opportunities,” Stege said of the decision to move. “I’m honored to be able to join the University of Tennessee because of the amazing swim program and team culture.”

Tennessee had 1 swimmer scheduled to race the 1650 free at last year’s NCAA Championship meet as well: junior Amanda Nunan, who was the 9th seed in 15:53.39.

Best Times & Freshman Progression:

HS Best Freshman Best
50 free 23.52 24.16
100 free 52.26 52.67
200 free 1:54.88 1:51.09
500 free 4:58.89 4:43.85
1650 free N/A 16:11.96

Stege came to East Carolina as primarily a sprinter, but her coach Matt Jabs said that her training led them to consider the distance events as the conference championship meet came nearer.

“Her work ethic and what I had seen her do at practice all season, led me to believe she would have a decent mile, and in time an excellent one if she bought into the event,” East Carolina head coach Matt Jabs said of the swim. “It was a decision that took a good amount of time to arrive at, and I needed Kristen to be confident in what we were doing, and for her to trust me. We didn’t ‘train’ for the 1650 this year, we trained consistency and effort.”

Stege says that she’s grown to love distance events and will continue to train for them at Tennessee.

Her sister Rachel, the #18 recruit in the high school class of 2021 and a University of Georgia commit, is a top-class distance swimmer. She’s the defending Illinois High School State Champion in the 500 free and represented the U.S. in the 400 and 800 meter frees at the 2019 World Junior Swimming Championships. This will put them both in the SEC Conference, though at different schools, when Rachel arrives at Georgia in the fall of 2021.

Stege is originally from Naperville, Illinois where she attended Neuqua Valley High School.

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SEC Fanatic
1 year ago

That’s are impressive time drops! Especially that mile. She’ll be a big asset for Tennessee moving forward!

swimfan210_
1 year ago

Awesome pickup for the Vols! I think I see an amazing future in her career. Best of luck Kristen!

Vic
1 year ago

Nice time drops.

dmswim
1 year ago

I understand her decision, but this has got to hurt for the ECU coach. You shine up a diamond in the rough only to lose her to a big name school.

applesandoranges
Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

Yup. Her ECU coach just might have been the best coach for her.

Mike
Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

Welcome to the life of a mid major coach. It happens every year.

applesandoranges
Reply to  Mike
1 year ago

I can feel his pain. Has to be rough.

Swammer
Reply to  Mike
1 year ago

Mike – just because it does, doesn’t mean it should.

JJ7
Reply to  Swammer
1 year ago

Every individual situation is different and there are a lot of factors that go into decisions like these that we don’t know about. We all make tough decisions in life.

Lane 8
Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

Yeah. When I read the article about her first mile swim, I had a feeling that ECU coach must be doing something very right. I would totally know why she would transfer (I feel like I would if I was in the same situation) but who knows what will happen.

Fishy
Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

Chill y’all, if you were in her situation what would you do? She was the only female to qualify for NCAA and most people benefit off team culture…

Entgegen
Reply to  Fishy
1 year ago

You could become a leader on the team and have others benefit from the example you set working hard to make NCAAs?

Swimfan
Reply to  Entgegen
1 year ago

You could do that wherever you go.

Swimfan
Reply to  dmswim
1 year ago

Lots of speculation and “mind-reading” on here about her reasons for leaving ECU. Maybe they go beyond the pool and swim team and she has other reasons for leaving. Her reasons are personal and her choice.

LadyVFL
1 year ago

Congratulations on your decision, Kristen! The Vols are so excited to have you join the family. Welcome to Rocky Top!

VFL
1 year ago

Nice pickup!! Anyone know the sprinter they added today?

Swim Mom
Reply to  VFL
1 year ago

NICE DISTANCE ADD!! I know that sprinter!

Swimfan
1 year ago

Congratulations Kristen. You are a very talented swimmer and will be a great addition to the Lady Vols!

Swim Fan 2020
1 year ago

Congratulations to Kristen and the U of Tenn Swim & Dive team!! What a great opportunity after a breakout year! Everyone of you, if given an opportunity to advance albeit as an athlete, coach, or in your career, would take it! Let’s show support for being goal-driven and recognizing that this is an exciting moment for Kristen and the team!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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