2019 SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Tuesday, February 19 – Saturday, February 23
- Gabrielsen Natatorium, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: Texas A&M Women (3x), Florida men (6x)(results)
- Live results
- Live Video – SEC Network
- Championship Central
- Day 2 Finals Heat Sheet
As Tennessee continues to surge at the SEC Championships, their women are also continuing to defy conventional wisdom when it comes to breaststroke pullouts. A day after Nikol Popov skipped her second pullout on the breaststroke leg of the 200 medley relay, fellow Vol Meghan Small passed up both breaststroke pullouts in the 200 IM, going on to win the event and set a new SEC meet record.
Race video clearly shows Small (in the white cap, fourth from the bottom in the video below) skipping the breaststroke pullouts, and, shockingly, swimming away from Texas A&M’s Sydney Pickrem, the conference’s best 200 breaststroker:
(Skip to about :58 in the video if it starts from the beginning)
Small appears to do only a big, powerful dolphin kick off of each wall, with no arm pull or breaststroke kick before she breaks the surface. The emergent strategy would conceivably give up the power of the arm pull-down, but also gets rid of the dreaded ‘dead spot’ in a breaststroke pullout – when the arms are recovering back over one’s head and momentum stops almost entirely before the breaststroke kick.
Pickrem has won the last two SEC titles in the 200 breaststroke, so it’s hard to argue that her pullouts are making Small’s strategy look better than it really is. Though Pickrem ultimately outsplits Small 32.0 to 32.5, Small ultimately betters her own split from SECs last year (33.0) by a fair margin. And visually, she clearly swims away from Pickrem early in the leg, as Pickrem is underwater and Small already on the surface swimming.
This isn’t an entirely new trend for Tennessee. Volunteer alum Molly Hannis made the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in the 200 breast by skipping her final pullout at U.S. Olympic Trials. Hannis was 4th at the 150 wall, but had the field’s best final split (by half a second, no less) to pass up Bethany Galat and Micah Sumrall for the Olympic spot. We interviewed Hannis and her coach, Bret Lundgaard, about the strategic decision, and you can read their 2016 commentary here.