Kentucky Wins Their First-Ever SEC Championships Title

by Annika Johnson 28

February 20th, 2021 College, News, SEC

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.

FINAL SCORES

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

Kentucky after winning the 2021 SEC Championships, courtesy of SEC

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.

Kentucky
FR 95.5
SO 284
JR 367.5
SR 114
Returning 747

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.

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Mnswim
7 months ago

Yes! So glad they finally broke through go Kentucky!!

Questionable
Reply to  Mnswim
7 months ago

Now lets see if the men can break the top 8

Questionable
Reply to  Questionable
7 months ago

Yall know its true. Dont be salty. The UK teams are so disproportionate in conference ranking.

The signs of a truly strong program would be something like Florida, NC State, UVA or Louisville where both womens and mens teams are top of the conference. Not one winning the title and the other scrounging to stay out of last place.

Bruh
Reply to  Questionable
7 months ago

Who are you and why does the uk men’s team live rent free in your head?

Questionable
Reply to  Bruh
7 months ago

They dont, i just like keeping up with what good programs are doing and find it interesting how UK is so one sided from mens to womens compared to other top programs.

Its also just funny to me that so many people splurge over the UK womens team but never pay any mind to the mens. Because why would they? Theres nothing impressive to mention.

Snarky
7 months ago

Congrats to Lars and the cats. Amazing job.

Bruh
7 months ago

Of course swim swam is making excuses about Florida lmao

swimapologist
Reply to  Bruh
7 months ago

oFCoUrSe cAuSe SWiMmswAM haS SUch a PrO fLoRiDa BiaS.

(said noone ever)

gatorchomp
Reply to  Bruh
7 months ago

Says a lot about a program when you win a championship, have like a dozen GLOWING articles written about your team, and then run to the internet about how unfairly you think you’re being treated by the big bad media.

Daddy
Reply to  gatorchomp
7 months ago

I don’t think the user “Bruh” in a swimswam comment section is representative of an entire program

SwimFani
7 months ago

Coach Lars is the best, most humble, confident and knowledgeable of any coach on deck in women’s swimming. Who else in the country could have done this at UK??? WOW.

Swimws
Reply to  SwimFani
7 months ago

If Lars is the best, why can’t the men be just as good? Asking for a friend….

Last edited 7 months ago by Swimws
Gone
Reply to  Swimws
7 months ago

Because he doesn’t pay any attention to the guys team.

I_Said_It_Too
Reply to  Swimws
7 months ago

Let’s see your coaching resume then… asking for a friend.

Questionable
Reply to  Swimws
7 months ago

You right. Lars is definitely a good coach, but the focus is only on the women and always has been. Thats why you can see a team like Texas A&M bring their mens team to the top from battling the bottom with UK, LSU and S Carolina only a few years ago. Vs the womens team at UK making big jumps but the mens team stagnant at best.

PVSFree
7 months ago

Great meet by them, always love to see an underdog do well

Guerra
7 months ago

I’m not a Kentucky guy, but this is so impressive! Congratulations to Lars and the UK Wildcat ladies…you made history and came out on top in what was the most challenging year ever! Nothing but respect…

Last edited 7 months ago by Guerra
Hannah
7 months ago

This is especially impressive given that the only top 10 recruit on the entire team was Caitlyn Brooks. I think the argument about recruiting vs development is often overblown because so few swimmers have the potential to be true NCAA stars out of high school but if you want an example of a team that proves you can succeed without top tier recruits you couldn’t find a better one than Kentucky.

PVSFree
Reply to  Hannah
7 months ago

Have to imagine they’re gonna get a couple top tier recruits now!

It’s ya boi
7 months ago

Huge congrats to Kentucky. Would have loved to see how close it could have been at the finish barring UGA DQ’s… NCAAs will be so fun to watch

Poolguy
Reply to  It’s ya boi
7 months ago

DQ’s are part of the game. UK earned that win. Give them the credit without the what if’s.

DWH
Reply to  It’s ya boi
7 months ago

You can add the DQ points back in. Doesn’t change the winning team…