In a week where so many SEC swimmers put up so many incredible times, the conference has decided to award co-swimmer of the week honors to go with their standard Diver and Freshman of the Week awards.
In the women’s league, the co-swimmers were Georgia’s Melanie Margalis and Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel. Margalis, which is more of a known-quantity, had four NCAA Automatic Qualifying Times, winning the 100 breast (59.15), 200 breast (2:08.10), 200 IM (1:54.08), and 400 IM (4:01.70) at the Auburn Invitational this past weekend. The first three of those swims rank her in the top 3 in the nation so far this year.
Bechtel, on the other hand, made her introduction to most of the country over the weekend in the butterfly events at the Ohio State Invitational. She swam lifetime bests in all of her individual events, which included School Records in the 100 fly (51.36) and 200 fly (1:54.21). The latter of those swims broke the School Record by over four seconds.
Freshman of the Week went to Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga, who won the Auburn Invite in the 100 back (51.97) and the 100 free (48.35) and earned the first qualification for the NCAA Championships of what should be a long and successful career for her.
A third Georgia Bulldog was honored, as senior diver Laura Ryan was named the Diver of the Week after winning the 3-meter springboard event.
On the men’s side, all four awards went to international swimmers. The SEC’s Male Co-Swimmer of the Week honor went to Sebastien Rousseau of Florida, a South African, and Marcelo Chierighini of Auburn, a Brazilian.
Rousseau, swimming at the Ohio State Invite, put up a 1:42.88 in the 200 fly. That’s the fastest time in the country this year, an NCAA Automatic Qualifying Time, and a new Meet Record. He also broke the Meet Record in his 400 IM with a 3:41.26. Only fellow SEC’er Chase Kalisz, the defending NCAA Champion, has been faster this season.
Chierighini was also very impressive, though in a very different set of events. He posted nation-leaders in the 50 free (19.25) and the 100 free (42.04) and split a 20.30 50 yard fly on Auburn’s medley relay.
Mauricio Robles of Tennessee, a red-shirt sophomore who hails from Mexico, swept the diving events at the Georgia Tech Invite in three career highs. For that he was awarded the SEC’s Male Diver of the Week.
And finally, the SEC Male Freshman of the Week goes to British rookie Joe Patching of Auburn. Patching was a big recruit for Auburn, but didn’t catch the attention of many American fans until this weekend. He swam a 1:40.98 in the 200 back and a 46.77 in the 100 back, as he joins Ryan Murphy and Jack Conger as part of an incredible men’s freshman backstroking class nation-wide this season.