SEC – Women’s Swimming & Diving + Men’s Diving
- Wednesday, February 17 – Saturday, February 20,2021
- W Swimming: Gabrielson Natatorium – Athens, GA (Eastern Zone)
- W&M Diving: Mizzou Aqutics Center – Columbia, MO (Central Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: Tennessee (1x) (2020 results)
- Live results
- Live Video – SEC Network
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheets
The University of Kentucky has won its first-ever SEC Championships title after 40 years of women’s swimming in the SEC Conference. Tonight, their victory was by a margin of 149 points over the University of Georgia. The defending champions, Tennessee, placed 5th.
Head coach Lars Jorgenson was not present at the start of the meet on Wednesday because of a positive COVID test last week, but he arrived in time to see the team win the SEC Championship title on Saturday.
And that’s a sign of the season. In 2021, the teams that come out on the top are going to be the teams that best-managed the challenges presented by the global coronavirus pandemic. Florida entered the meet without star freestyler Leah Braswell, and on a final margin of 53 points, that could have been enough to swing the final outcome of the meet.
But you don’t get points for who does come, rather for those who show up. And Kentucky showed up in a big way this week in Athens.
1. Kentucky: 1124
2. Florida: 1071
3. Georgia: 999
4. Alabama: 973
5. Tennessee: 934
6. Texas A&M: 839
7. Missouri: 614.5
8. Arkansas: 595
9. Auburn: 510
10. LSU: 390.5
11. South Carolina: 276
12. Vanderbilt: 154
As the meet went on, the Wildcats were blowing wind into a turbine, building what turned out to be an unstoppable amount of momentum. They established a narrow lead of 2 points over Alabama on day 1. Thursday was their most challenging day as they ended the finals session in 5th place, although 2nd through 5th were separated by just 22 points.
After day 3, Florida and Kentucky separated themselves from the rest of the pack, in first and 3rd respectively, with an 8 point difference between them. Leading Kentucky’s drive on day 3 was Lauren Poole and Gillian Davey in the 400IM, finishing 1-2, Izzy Gati placing 3rd in the 100 fly, Riley Gaines winning the 200 free, Caitlin Brooks scoring 3rd place in the 100 back, and the Kentucky 400 medley cracking the top 3.
Saturday was no different for the Wildcats who finished 2-3 in the 200 back (Sophie Sorenson and Brooks) and 2nd in the 200 breast (Davey.) Going into the relay, Kentucky had already established a 103 point lead over the University of Florida.
The Wildcats achieved this victory both with swimmers who arrived on their campus as stars, like Sorenson who became the Iowa state record holder in the 100 yard back (54.61), alongside swimmers who they trained into becoming stars. For example, last year Poole finished 13th in the 200 breast and 24th in the 400IM. Brooks finished 15th in the 100 fly last year and now has jumped up to 9th with a new lifetime best.
Another major source of Kentucky’s lead was the fact that they had earned the most spots in the finals session on Friday and Saturday with 17 and 18 swimmers in the finals heats, respectively. Here is a breakdown of how many points were scored by swimmers from each school in individual events:
INDIVIDUAL SCORES BY YEAR
Credit to Andrew Mering for running the numbers.
The majority of Kentucky’s points came from their junior class, while their senior and freshman classes scored the least. This means that the majority of the top point-scorers will be returning for the 2021-2022 season and can garner major points for the team again. Similar to Kentucky was Alabama, whose senior class scored 30 out of their 657 total points.
Got a really big team…
& WE NEED SOME REALLY NICE RINGS. pic.twitter.com/1NzXNBq56u
— Kentucky Swim & Dive (@UKSwimDive) February 21, 2021