Auburn Thumps ‘Bama in Pursley’s SEC Debut

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 3

October 12th, 2012 College, News

It’s a new era in Alabama swimming, with former British Swimming head coach Dennis Pursley at the helm of the Crimson Tide. Today in Auburn, though, he got a stark reminder of how good SEC swimming is, as in-state rivals Auburn Tigers thumped the Crimson Tide by scores of 182-61 (women) and 175-68 (men), respectively.

On the women’s side, Auburn’s revamped backstroke group was already showing off. First, in the 200 medley relay, junior transfer Aubrey Peacock and freshman Caitlyn Forman both split right around a 26.0 as the Tigers went 1-2 in 1:41.05 and 1:41.75, respectively.

Later, in the 200 backstroke (no 100 was swum), another freshman Jillian Vitarius took her first career win with a 1:57.16. That’s already the 2nd-fastest time in the country this season, behind only Olympian Elizabeth Beisel of Florida. Between those two and a pair of other Florida freshmen, Ashlee Linn and Sinead Russell, this 200 back should be one of the better races at this year’s SEC Championships.

Micah Lawrence also made her re-emergence on the college scene after a one-year hiatus to train for the Olympics, and she swam a 2:13.78 in the 200 breaststroke to run away with the victory by over three seconds. The last time we saw her begin a college season, in October of 2010, she was only going 2:16’s to kick things off. The Olympic finalist is already well ahead of that pace this season.

Senior Katie Gardocki also had a good early season swim in the 500, with a 4:50.94.

Alabama’s lone swimming win came in the 200 fly, where Kristel Vourna (2:02.74) overcame Auburn freshman Alex Merritt (2:02.93) on the final strokes of the race. The Alabama women’s divers, including sophomore Lisa Bogostian who won the 1-meter springboard competition.

For the men, it was all about the Auburn sprinters already early this season, and specifically junior Marcelo Chierighini. He swept the 50 free (20.24), the 100 free (44.44), and backed that 100 up later in the meet with a 44.41 free relay leadoff.

His cohort James Disney-May had a great meet as well, placing 2nd in the 100 in 45.12 and splitting a 44.6 on the 2nd leg of the 400 free relay. Chierighini is only the 4th swimmer under 45 seconds already this season. Auburn still has a little bit of a depth issue, though very early, in the sprints. they failed to break three minutes in the race, something that their conference rivals Florida, with much less sprinting credentials, have already accomplished.

Full meet results available here.



In This Story

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Pursley is a first class coach with a depth of experience at all levels of swimming. Let’s give Denny a few years to recruit his own athletes and re-build the program! He didn’t inherit a powerhouse team so give him and his staff some time. Bama Athletics & Mal Moore the AD will give S&D the support they need to be a real competitor in the SEC! Roll Tide!


Disagree. Pursley is a third rate coach, and you can give him all of the time in the world and it won’t help Bama’s cause.


What a negative mean spirited person you are….time will tell… But I disagee with you!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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, …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!