Men’s SEC Championship Fan Guide: Florida Looks for Three-peat, Georgia Tough as Ever

2015 Men’s SEC Champions 

  • Tuesday, February 17-Saturday, February 21
  • Auburn Alabama
  • Prelims/Finals: W-F 10AM/6PM, Tuesday 10AM/5:30PM (Central time)
  • Defending Champs: Florida (2x)
  • Live results
  • Live Video
  • Championship Central

The SEC Men’s Championship meet begins on Tuesday with its unique 5-day event lineup. Racing Starts on Tuesday and runs through Saturday Night.

The two time defending champion Florida Gators will look to make it three in a row over the long week, but will be challenged by the likes of the Georgia Bulldogs, who handed the Gators the only blemish on their regular season schedule by means of a 174.5-1225 victory. Auburn will also give the Gators a run for the money. Florida defeated Auburn 158-142 in Auburn in late January. The Bulldogs and Tigers did not meet in the regular season.

Georgia looks to be even better with head coach Jack Buerle’s return to the deck. Bauerle served a suspension that sidelined him for almost the entire 2014 year, including the championship season.

The Bulldogs are a team that has depth all the way through.  Matias Koski and Michael Trice anchor the freestyle events, while the likes of Chase Kalisz and  Nicolas Fink hold down the stroke events.

Georgia is in good shape in the 400 freestyle relay, they currently sit number one in the SEC. however their 200 freestyle relay will need to improve to help the team. The relay ranks fifth in the conference behind Missouri, Alabama, Auburn, and Florida.

Another team that could move up is the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide are quietly building a strong program in Tuscaloosa, and A fourth place finish at last year’s SEC championship bodes well. BJ Hornikel’s graduation will hurt the Tide, but returning NCAA 50 freestyle champion, Kristian Gkolomeev should give Alabama a considerable points boost.

Georgia (No. 3), Florida (No. 4), Auburn (No. 6), Missouri (No. 11), Alabama (No. 13), Tennessee (No. 14), and Texas A&M (No. 24) all rank in the latest SwimSwam Power Rankings, which should make the men’s SEC Championships one of the fastest and most competitive conference meets in the country.

SCHEDULE

The SEC is the only major conference to use the 5-day meet format, which spreads events out and should prevent too many swimmers from running into tough doubles. The event lineup is listed below:

Tuesday:

Men’s 1-meter diving

200 Medley Relay

Women’s 3-meter diving

800 Free Relay

Wednesday:

500 Free

200 IM

50 Free

Women’s 1-meter diving

200 Free Relay

Thursday:

400 IM

100 Fly

Men’s 3-meter diving

200 Free

Friday:

200 Fly

100 Back

100 Breast

Women’s Platform diving

400 Medley Relay

Saturday:

1650 Free

200 Back

100 Free

200 Breast

Men’s Platform diving

400 Free Relay

STARS

Alabama – Kristian Gkolomeev (sophomore sprinter), Connor Oslin (sophomore backstroker), Pavel Romanov  (sophomore breaststroker), Brett Walsh (junior sprinter/butterflier) – Romanov has stepped in as the breastroker on the medley relays, while Walsh adds some sprint freestyle depth for the Tide. Gkolomeev has picked up where he left off and currently holds the top 50 freestyle time in the conference.

Auburn Kyle Darmody (sophomore sprinter/backstroker), Joe Patching (sophomore backstroker), Michael Duderstadt (sophomore breaststroke), Arthur Mendes (sophomore freestyler/butterfly) – The Tigers graduated their top freestylers from last season, but they should have strong medley relays this year with a core underclassmen.

FloridaCaleb Dressel (freshman sprinter), Paul Werner (junior freestyler), Corey Main (junior backstroke) Mitch D’Arrigo (sophomore freestyler) – Dressel already produced a memorable freshman season in Gainesville, and D’Arrigo will score points in the mid distance freestyles to help the defending champoins.

Georgia – Nic Fink (senior breaststroke/sprint), Chase Kalisz (junior IM’er), Ty Stewart (junior fly/back/IM’er), Matias Koski (junior freestyler) Michael Trice (junior freestyler) – The Bulldogs are full of stars, holding several of the conferences top times across every stroke. Kalisz should have another strong post-season, and with Bauerle back, the Bulldogs look tough as ever.

Kentucky – Kyle Higgins (sophomore butterflier) Drew Aviotti (sophomore distance freestyle) Brandon Flynn (sophomore distance freestyler) Levi Lindsey (freshman diver) – The Wildcats are under second year head coach Lars Jorgensen and have speed at the top, including two of the top 20 distance freestylers in the conference.

LSU – Michael Young (senior backstroker) Silas Dejean (sophomore breaststroker) Logan Rysemus (sophomore butterflier) Frank Greef (senior butterflier) – Greef and Dejean should score points in their individual events for the Tigers. LSU also has a strong nucleus for a medley relay.

Missouri – Sam Tierney (senior breaststroker), Mack Darragh (senior butterflier), Matthew Maggritier (junior freestyler), Michael Chadwick (sophomore freestyler – Missouri has strong freestylers across the spring, mid distance, and distance disciplines including four of the top 20 50 swimmers, making their 200 freestyle relay the one to watch.

South Carolina – Marwan el Kamash (junior distance swimmer), Kevin Leithold (redshirt sophomore breaststroker/freestyler), Tom Peribonio (freshman freestyler/IM’er) – South Carolina returns two of members of their fifth place 800 free relay from a season ago in el Kamash and Leithold, the addition of freshmen Peribonio and Patrick McCrillis make this another strong 800 free relay.

Tennessee – Evan Pinion (redshirt freshman distance swimmer), Troy Tillman (senior sprinter), David Heron (redshirt freshman distance swimmer), Sam McHugh (freshman butterflier/backstroker/IM’er) – Pinion and Heron are establishing themselves as two of the best distance swimmers in conference and country, and a strong post-season could cement that claim.

Texas A&M – Mauro Castillo Luna (freshman breaststroker/freestyler), Brock Bonetti freshman backstroker/IM’er), Luke Shaw (senior freestyler), Tyler Henschel (freshman diver) – Henschel is the best diver in the conference on both the 3 meter and 1 meter boards and Castillo Luna has potential to A final in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.

SHOWDOWNS

50 Free – We won’t see Marcelo Cherigini or Brad DeBorde or Luke Percy, but Kristian Gkolomeev and Caleb Dressel will put on a show in the 50 freestyle. Gkolomeev swam a 19.11 already this season, while Dressel’s fastest is a 19.31. Matthew Margritier sits third with a 19.41, and Michael Trice is seeded at 19.46. The SEC is built on speed, and the 50 freestyle has plenty of it.

200 medley relay – Just .02 seconds separate Auburn and Georgia in the 200 medley relay. Auburn’s team of Patching, Duderstadt, Mendes and Darmody hold the top seed at 1:25.45. Patching and Duderstadt remain from Auburn’s fifth place team that finished in 1:25.98, while Mendes and Darmody replace Cherigini and James Disney-May respectively. Pace Clark has taken the reigns of Georgia’s butterfly spot from the graduated Doug Reynolds. Georgia is seeded at 1:25.47 in a race that looks like a toss up on paper.

200 IM – With the graduation of Cherigini and Florida’s Sebastian Rousseau, Georgia is positioned to sweep the 200 IM with Kalisz seeded at 1:43.10, Stewart at 1:43.21, and Gunnar Bentz at 1:41.48. The biggest question for this event will be what Bulldog takes what spot. Kalisz finished the highest for Georgia last season, third, and looks to be the favorite.

200 Free – Four swimmers will be in a race for the top spot on the podium on thursday. Missouri’s Chadwick, Georgia’s Matias Koski and Bentz, and Florida’s Pawel Werner are all seeded between 1:34.47 and 1:34.79 with Chadwick and Werner sandwiching the Georgia teammates. Add in Corey Main and last year’s runner up D’Arrigo and this could be one of the fastest 200 freestyle races in the conference season.

STANDINGS

Last year was the year of the Gator in the SEC. This year, the SEC is the Bulldogs’ to lose. The Dogs beat Florida convincingly in a dual meet already this season, and would likely take down Auburn as well. With the perfect mix of depth and star swimmers, Georgia is the best bet to shut the door on Florida’s chance at a three-peat.

Florida should still finish second, as they have looked good throughout the dual meet season with the exception of the Georgia loss. Auburn will ride their key individuals to another top three finish.

Down the line, however, things tighten up. 4-5-6 will be a close matchup between the likes of Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri. All three teams have strong cores of swimmers who can contribute to scoring, especially with scoring through to the C finals.

Mizzou looks the deepest they have been since moving to the SEC and will likely take the fourth spot. Alabama did not graduate many point scorers for the second straight seaosn, and that will reflect in the results. Tennessee will ride their strong distance group to a sixth place finish.

  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Auburn
  4. Missouri
  5. Alabama
  6. Tennessee
  7. Texas A&M
  8. LSU
  9. South Carolina
  10. Kentucky

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weirdo

I don’t think Missouri will finish that high because they go all in in December and then wait til NCAA’s to peak again (a la Arizona when Rhody was there with Busch).

I also think UF is probably deeper than UGA men this year and so those last 5 swimmers will score more points than UGA will. But this is why they have the meet.

Katie Richards

Sean Lehane???

Riley

Just an FYI, pretty sure Grodecki got kicked off of Mizzou awhile ago

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