Day 4 of the 2014 SEC Championships in Athens, Georgia will be a busy night, as we build toward the Saturday session – which will be longest of the entire five-day affair.
Included in the lineup will be two defending NCAA Champions in their best races from Texas A&M: Cammile Adams in the 200 fly, and Breeja Larson in the 100 breaststroke. Also in the water will be another Aggie, Paige Miller, trying to uphold her top seed against an impressive lineup in the 100 back that includes Olivia Smoliga and Sinead Russell.
On paper, most of the best races should be on the women’s side, but the men’s meet brings some intrigue – especially as an on-fire Chase Kalisz tries to fend off a group of swimmers which much thicker credentials than he in the 200 fly.
Events: 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, men’s platform diving, and 400 medley relays.
Update this page frequently, as we’ll be recapping events in real-time.
- Dates: Tuesday, February 18th – Saturday, February 22nd (Co-Ed); prelims 10AM/Finals 6PM
- Location: Gabrielsen Natatorium, University of Georgia (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: Georgia (4x – women), Florida (men) (results)
- Live Results
- Live Video: ESPN3.com
- Championship Central
Women’s 400 IM – FINALS
Texas A&M’s Cammile Adams, the defending SEC and NCAA Champion, put up a marvelous time to win the women’s 200 fly on Friday night. She swam a 1:52.19 to clear her own SEC Record from last year, go half-a-second faster than she was to win last year’s NCAA Championship, and mark her lifetime best in the event.
What’s more, as Adams dropped the hammer to turn a close race in the final 50 into a runaway (as she likes to do), this is her 4th career conference title in the 200 fly, marking a perfect career at this level with two wins in the Big 12 and now two wins in the SEC.
Georgia’s Hali Flickinger was right with Adams for most of this race, and while she still had a good finish by most peoples’ standards, it wasn’t enough to keep up with Adams. Flickinger took 2nd in 1:53.62, and she now sits second in the country this year.
A&M got a second swimmer on the podium when senior Caroline McElhany was a 1:54.87 for 3rd, which will earn her an NCAA invite. Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel, who has turned into one of the best 100/200 butterfly combo swimmers in the country, was 4th in 1:55.06, including the fastest back-half split (58.6) of anyone outside of Adams.
Florida’s top swimmer was freshman Taylor Katz in 1:55.69, making a total of three-seconds of improvement off of her lifetime best in her freshman year. That’s a big swim for Florida, as it keeps them just ahead of the Aggies. All-American Lauren Harrington from Georgia was 6th in 1:56.14, followed by Auburn’s Alex Merritt (1:56.26) and Georgia’s Courtney Peters (1:57.35) to round out the top 8.
Winning the B final was LSU’s Kara Kopcso in 1:57.13 – about a second improvement from her prelims swim, and more the time we expected from the swimmer who should already have her NCAA berth secured. Coming up second in that B-final, and 10th overall, was Kentucky junior Abby Myers, who was a 1:57.60. Myers was a 1:56.6 in November, that should also qualify her for the NCAA Championships, and her swim is an incredible nine seconds better than she was at this same meet last year.
Men’s 200 Fly – FINALS
The magic of Georgia super-sophomore Chase Kalisz ran out a little bit at the end of the day, though he still had a very good swim in the men’s 200 fly final with yet another lifetime best of 1:41.74.
He, however, could not overcome Sebastien Rousseau (1:41.07), who is swimming in his last SEC Championship meet and is an NCAA title contender in the event, swimming for a red-hot Florida team. Rousseau was able to push the pace early in this race, building up a second over Kalisz (who was near the back of the pack at the halfway mark).
As it turns out, Kalisz back-halves his races not just because in the IM’s, he’s a better breaststroker and freestyler. That’s probably a factor in those events, but he showed he’s plenty capable of a great back-half in the 200 fly as well.
Florida’s Marcin Cieslak came down to the wire with Kalisz, but came up just short, placing 3rd in 1:41.75.
Georgia sophomore Ty Stewart is 4th in 1:42.93, followed by Auburn’s Arthur Mendes, who was a very good 1:43.01: a great effort .That’s perhaps too little too late for the Brazilian to keep Auburn in contention with a 5th place finish, but it’s a good sign for his future as one of the stars for Auburn after they graduate a big senior class.
LSU’s Frank Greeff was a 1:43.95 in finals, just a touch slower than prelims, as were Florida’s Dan Wallace (1:43.98) which will likely finish off his meet, and Missouri’s Andrew Phillips (1:45.08).
Georgia’s Pace Clark won the B-final as just a freshman in 1:43.58, and with the Florida men taking firm control of the team scoring, Georgia will now look to challenge Auburn for 2nd. That will be a tough task with diving coming through, but if the Bulldogs keep putting in great finals swims, it’s not out of reach either.
Women’s 100 backstroke – FINAL
The Aggie women moved to 2-for-2 on the day, as Paige Miller was able to just-barely out-touch Georgia freshman Olivia Smoliga 50.91-51.00 in the women’s 100 backstroke final.
That was an incredible battle between two swimmers with incredible underwaters in Miller and Smoliga; Florida’s Sinead Russell, a great long course swimmer, hung with those two for most of this race, but just couldn’t match them coming off of the final wall to take 3rd in 51.69.
The Auburn women clawed their way up to 4th in the team standings thanks to a 4-5-7 finish from Aubrey Peacock (52.24), Emily Bos (52.37), and Sarah Reynolds (52.75). That was combined with a B-final win from Jillian Vitarius (52.84) to give Auburn four backstrokers under 53 seconds. Only the vaunted backstroke group at Cal (they have 6 under so far) can boast the same so far this season. In total, that was a 100-point event for Auburn, which gave their meet-long team scoring a 25% boost in a single race.
Also in the A-final was LSU sophomore Caley Oquist in 52.67, re-breaking her own School Record from prelims. Between her and the freshman Kopcso, LSU has the beginnings of a very good young medley relay for the next few years.
Men’s 100 backstroke – FINAL
The SEC was ripe for new blood in the men’s 100 backstroke, and new blood is what they got. A freshman 1-2 came at the hands of Auburn’s Kyle Darmody in 45.66, and Georgia’s Taylor Dale in 45.98.
Both were highly-touted prospects coming out of high school; Darmody was about a second faster than Dale in this event, however, so Dale has made up some ground in the last year.
This race didn’t have a lot of separation in it, until right at the very end, and the hard-starting Sam Rairden slipped just a little bit to 3rd with a 46.05. He was followed closely by teammate Sean Lehane in 46.35. Though Rairden nipped Lehane in this 100 back, he’s also a very good sprint butterflier, so there won’t be much of a tough decision left for the Volunteers’ medley relay at the end of the session.
Florida freshman Jack Blyzinskyj was their top finisher, placing 5th in 46.48. He was followed by Alabama’s Connor Oslin (46.77), another Gator in Corey Main (46.86), and Auburn’s James Disney-May (47.00).
Auburn’s other star freshman backstroker, Joe Patching, won the B final in 46.92.
Women’s 100 breaststroke – FINAL (Read more about the record here)
Starting with a new American, U.S. Open, and NCAA Record, in other words the fastest 100 yard breaststroke ever, from Breeja Larson, The women’s 100 breaststroke finals at the SEC Championships on Friday was one of the fastest breaststroke rounds in history.
Larson swam a 57.28 to break her own record set at last year’s meet in 57.43. In 2nd was Tennessee’s Molly Hannis in 58.22, which ties her own swim from last year’s SEC Championship meet, to the hundredth, as the fastest swim to not win a race in the history of this event. Hannis is still just a sophomore, and with Larson and USC’s Kasey Carlson both graduating, this will be her race to lose for the next two seasons.
That gave the A&M women a sweep of the day’s individual events with three wins.
Alabama junior captain Kaylin Burchell took 3rd in 59.17, which rebreaks her own school record from prelims and is an NCAA Automatic Qualifying time – ensuring her trip to Minneapolis (it was all but coming into this final).
After Larson graduates, A&M will still be in good shape in the breaststrokes. Freshman Sycerika McMahon was a 59.35 for 4th, and Ashley McGregor was a 59.70 for 5th.
The only two seniors in the top 15 finishers of this event were Larson and Florida’s Hilda Luthersdottir, who was 6th in 59.94. Arkansas’ Nikki Daniels slid to 7th in 1:00.18, and Alabama freshman Bridget Blood was 8th in 1:00.42.
The A-finalists were not alone in impressive performances. In the B-final, Georgia’s Annie Zhu just out-touched Missouri freshman Katharine Ross 59.55-59.56. Between preslims and finals, that makes 10 swimmers in this conference who broke a minute in the event.
For context, in the 2009-2010 NCAA season, there weren’t 10 swimmers in the country under a minute in that event. This shows a lot about the way that stroke has developed in the last 5 years.
Men’s 100 breaststroke – FINAL
Two swimmers were under the old SEC Championship Record in the men’s 100 yard breaststroke, and the winner was U.S. National Teamer Nic Fink in 51.25. That marks his third-straight SEC title in his three- years of college swimming so far, with a chance to go for number four next year.
Poetically, the man who’s Championship Record Fink broke was former Tennessee swimmer Jeremy Linn, who was a 51.86 back in 1997. Linn won the 100 breaststroke all four of his seasons in the SEC as well.
Fink got a good challenge in this race, and should again next year, from Alabama’s Anton McKee, who was also under Linn’s old record with a 51.70. McKee, who is a 20-year old freshman out of Iceland, swam at the World Championships this summer, just like Fink.
Florida’s Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez was a 52.43 to win the battle for 3rd over Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt, who was 4th in 52.67. That swim from Solaeche-Gomez was a very back-half swim, as he closed with the two leaders, but just didn’t have enough front-half speed. He’s still working his way from a 200 breaststroke/IM guy, though, to a better 100 guy, and if he continues his improvements he too could challenge Fink next season.
Missouri junior Sam Tierney was 5th in 53.03, which should be good enough to get him to NCAA’s. History would dictate that Florida’s Matthew Elliott (53.11) in 6th should be safe too. Missouri’s Mark Conroy (7th – 53.30) and another Alabama freshman Pavel Romanov (53.23- B final winner) will be squarely on the bubble when selections are out.
Men’s 3 Meter Diving – FINAL
In two years in the SEC, the Texas A&M men now have two SEC event championships, and both have come this year from sophomore diver Ford McLiney. He opened the meet with a win on the 3-meter springboard, and on Friday finished the diving portion with a win on the platform.
He scored 415.20 to just out-score Auburn’s Fraser McKean (413.25) and Kentucky’s Greg Ferrucci (409.90), and all-but-secure the conference’s Diver of the Year award.
Women’s 400 Medley Relay – FINAL
As one might expect given the way the session had gone, the Texas A&M Aggies led almost wire-to-wire in the women’s 400 medley relay, and came away with a 3:29.03 victory. That’s the Aggies’ 2nd-straight victory in this race.
They were led off by Miller in 51.71, with Larson splitting 57.41 (actually slower than her individual 100), McElhany swam the fly leg in 52.40, and Lili Ibanez anchored in 47.51.
They beat Georgia in that race, who were 2nd in 3:29.87, and the defending NCAA Champions from Tennessee, who were 3rd in 3:30.19. Shannon Vreeland anchored for Georgia in a 46.90, which was the fastest anchor split by almost half-a-second.
Florida took 4th in 3:31.07, and Arkansas was 5th in 3:35.29. The Razorbacks still don’t have an NCAA Automatic Qualifying relay this season, though this one is close, so we may seem them time-trial this race to drop the last six-tenths they need for a team ticket to Minneapolis.
In addition to overall relay performances, there were a lot of really great butterfly splits in this race. Lindsay Genderon split 51.62 for Tennessee, Ellese Zalewski split 51.61, and Missouri’s Dani Barbiea split a 51.20.
Men’s 400 Medley Relay – FINAL
The men’s 400 medley relay came down to the wire, but at the end it was Auburn’s sprint freestyler that was able to beat out Georgia’s for the 400 medley relay title.
The Tigers’ relay of Darmody, Michael Duderstadt, Mendes, and Chierighini swam a 3:05.38, including a 41.94 anchor from Chierighini to make up the seven-tenths of a second gap on Auburn. Michael Trice anchored for Georgia in 42.78.
Florida took 3rd in 3:05.65, as their back half of Marcin Cieslak and Brad deBorde very nearly ran down both Auburn and Georgia with splits of 45.14 and 41.35, respectively, which were the fastest split of the day on both legs.
Alabama took 4th in 3:06.42, with a 51.8 on the backside for BJ Hornikel, and Tennessee was 5th in 3:08.20, earning the NCAA Automatic Qualifying standard thanks in part to a 45.42 fly leg from Sam Rairden.
The Georgia women extended their lead on Friday evening, even without winning a single event, and Texas A&M pulled themselves well in front of Florida for 2nd. Florida sets up for a very strong day on Saturday, though, and aside from A&M’s deep breaststroke group again, the opportunities exist for the Gators to make up that gap for 2nd.
1. Georgia, University of 1098
2. Texas A&M University 911
3. University of Florida 799
4. Tennessee, University of, Knox 579
5. Auburn University 571
6. Louisiana State University 393
6. University of Alabama 393
8. University of Missouri 378.5
9. Arkansas, University of, Fayet 373
10. Kentucky, University of 313
11. South Carolina, University of 185
12. Vanderbilt University 147.5
The Florida men withstood Auburn’s barrage in the diving, and with only swimming events on the last day of the meet, the Gators sit in a very good position with an 80 point lead; especially with how well they’ve swum this week.
Auburn could still, however, make this interesting if they got 5 guys into the A final and 3-or-4 into the B final in the 100 free (which they certainly have the horses to do – though those kind of numbers are always tough), and a win in the 400 free relay. Those two races alone could make up the deficit, leaving the 200 breaststroke and the 200 backstroke to decide things.
However, it probably requires a Florida “miss” somewhere to happen, and Florida hasn’t “missed” much this week. It’s still worth tuning in, though, at least for prelims, to see where the finalists fall.
1. University of Florida 1097.5
2. Auburn University 1017.5
3. Georgia, University of 806
4. University of Missouri 572
5. Tennessee, University of, Knox 568
6. University of Alabama 506
7. Texas A&M University 471
8. Louisiana State University 425
9. Kentucky, University of 417
10. South Carolina, University of 416