Returning Conference Points: Wide Open Women’s SEC Is Near Four-Way Tie

The 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled in the coronavirus pandemic – but the virus can’t stop our pre-season coverage for the 2021 campaign. We’re running through a comprehensive preview of each of the Power-5 conferences in Division I, compiling returning conference points and tracking transfers and incoming recruits.

2020 Lookback

Led by what turned out to be the best senior class in the nation, a veteran Tennessee Volunteer team edged Florida for their first SEC title in women’s swimming & diving history. Tennessee won three of five relays and cracked 1100 total points with five individual event titles: senior Erika Brown in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly, plus seniors Tess Cieplucha in the 400 IM and Meghan Small in the 200 IM.

Florida was a narrow second, getting level performances from all three non-freshman classes. A strong Kentucky team was third – though their big names were all seniors, the Wildcats actually got most of their points from their sophomore class, including conference runner-up flyer Izzy Gati.

Georgia won its fair share of events between standout rookie Zoie Hartman (100/200 breast), sophomore Dakota Luther (200 fly), junior Courtney Harnish (500 free), and senior Veronica Burchill (200 free).

Meanwhile Auburn swept both sprint free relays, and Alabama saw a massive breakout from double backstroke champ Rhyan White and also won the mile with Kensey McMahon.

Returning Points for 2021

Heading into 2021, it’s a true dead-heat for the title of SEC favorite. Kentucky narrowly leads in returning points, despite graduating impact swimmers Asia Seidt and Ali Galyer. Florida, Tennessee and Georgia are all still very much in the hunt.

Returning relay legs, though, give a solid edge to Kentucky and Georgia, which return more than half their legs from 2020 SECs. Tennesee has some serious work to do, graduating 13 of 20 relay legs including high-impact splits from Brown.

Further back, Alabama returns a near-conference-high 85.5% of its individual points and all but two relay legs from 2020.

Team Returning Individual Points % Returning Individual Points Returning Relay Legs
Kentucky 577.5 75% 13/20
Florida 522.5 63% 8/20
Tennessee 512 63% 7/20
Georgia 509 70% 15/20
Texas A&M 453 72% 8/20
Alabama 421 86% 18/20
Auburn 346 58% 9/20
LSU 217 88% 16/20
Missouri 215 81% 18/20
Arkansas 120 59% 16/20
South Carolina 119 52% 11/20
Vanderbilt 0 20/20

Scorers By Team

Teams are listed in their 2020 conference finish order. Athletes are listed with their year as of the current 2019-2020 season, not their year for the 2020-2021 season.

Tennessee (512)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Pintar, Tjasa JR 70
Cable, Grace M SO 67
Yager, Alexis A JR 64.5
Nunan, Amanda J JR 57
Rothrock, Trude SO 54.5
Grinter, Bailey JR 47
Beil, Mallory J SO 34
Popov, Nikol A JR 33
Sichterman, Meg JR 16
Holt, Kara E FR 16
Sykes, Emily J JR 15
Harty, Kaitlin JR 14
Samansky, Abby FR 12
Celaya-Hernande JR 10
Katzer, Danika SO 2

Florida (522.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
McCool, Ashley JR 72
Perez, Elizabet SO 71
Pearl, Vanessa SO 70
Braswell, Leah SO 53
Whitner, Emma JR 43
Ault, Taylor A JR 41
Golding, Kathle FR 39.5
Hillis, Gabriel JR 31
Zavaros, Rosie SO 27
Piccirillo, All FR 25
Mathieu, Tylor FR 24
Miller, Nikki JR 16
Bates, Talia B FR 10

Kentucky (577.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Bonnett, Bailey JR 77
Gati, Izzy G SO 68.5
Knight, Kyndal SO 67
Brooks, Caitlin FR 62
Sorenson, Sophi SO 57
Davey, Gillian FR 53
Gaines, Riley M SO 44
Hill, Jaclyn F JR 33
McNeese, Beth E FR 31
Southall, Morga FR 25
Wheeler, Kaitly FR 20
Poole, Lauren M FR 18
Edelman, Lauren JR 9
Neas, Ashley S FR 7
Hudson, Cara L JR 5
Ward, Trinity M FR 1

Georgia (509)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Hartman, Zoie E FR 92
Harnish, Courtn JR 86
DellaTorre, Dan JR 80
Luther, Dakota SO 55
Fa’amausili, Ga JR 53
Homovich, Maddi SO 44
Dickinson, Call SO 34
Anderson, Olivi JR 15
Crump, Ellie E SO 14
McCauley, Ashle FR 12
Barczyk, Jillia FR 10
Brown, Portia SO 6
Von Biberstein, JR 5
Burchill, Sammi JR 3

Auburn (346)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Hetzer, Emily SO 64
Preble, Averee FR 48
Wensuc, Gretche FR 44
Webb, Abbey C FR 37
Oeztuerk, Sonne JR 36
Sullivan, Ashly FR 26
Kutsch, AJ FR 24
Harris, Jewels JR 24
Cummings, Carly JR 17
Wilder, Abi G JR 11
Parker, Mcauley JR 6
Bellina, Jaden JR 4
Tarazi, Val R SO 3
Thamm, Claudia FR 2

Texas A&M (453)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Quah, Jing JR 76
Clairmont, Alys FR 73
Campbell, Charl JR 48
Eisenmann, Kara JR 39
Pike, Taylor A JR 37
Carlton, Emma L SO 36
Theil, Caroline SO 35
Toney, Camryn C JR 23
Powers, Kylie A SO 22
Walding, Harper JR 19
Roubique, Victo SR 18
Field, Joy F JR 16
Wey, Grace E FR 11

Alabama (421)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
White, Rhyan E SO 92
Scott, Morgan E SO 59
McMahon, Kensey SO 59
Lucoe, Tanesha FR 38
Antoniou, Kalia SO 36.5
Molnar, Flora JR 33
Wright, Cat G SO 32
Liberto, Morgan SO 30
Wong, Kaila T JR 14.5
Underwood, Mall JR 11
Koczo, Abigail FR 7
Wolf, Julia R SO 4
Donkle, Natalie SO 3
Reynera, Caitli FR 2

Missouri (215)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Thompson, Sarah JR 68
Rousseau, Sarah SO 29
Brathwaite, Kat FR 28
Huitt, Maddie FR 22
Smith, Amanda C JR 21
Keil, Megan K SO 20
Rees, Meredith FR 20
Jones, Kayla L SO 5
Trueb, Savana FR 2

South Carolina (119)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Kinsey, Hallie SO 42
Steele, Taylor FR 33
Roxne, Mathilda FR 23
Goh, Yu Qian C JR 15
Kraus, Mari L SO 5
Otten, Emma R JR 1

Arkansas (120)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Palsha, Peyton JR 66
Mosena, Esti SO 19
Ljunggren, Lexi SO 18
Herrmann, Vanes SO 11
Matalone, Josie FR 5
Garfield, Emma SO 1

LSU (217)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Wilson, Aimee SO 69
Robinson, Niamh FR 49
Tuxen, Anne FR 34
Milutinovich, K FR 27
Montague, Hayle FR 23
Stanfield, Summ FR 7
Taylor, Olivia FR 7
Kalisz, Cassie JR 1

Vanderbilt (0)

none

New Additions

Tennessee definitely brings in the top recruiting class, ranked 8th nationally in our recent rundown of incoming classes. 22.2/49.0 sprinter Jasmine Rumley should slot right into the free relays, and Irish standout Mona McSharry (1:07.4/2:27.4 long course) could be a difference-maker in breaststroke. Meanwhile ECU transfer Kristen Stege would have scored 34 individual points at SECs last year, and seems to have a massive ceiling in distance freestyles after last year’s out-of-nowhere mile.

We had three pretty comparable classes ranked in the 13-16 range: Georgia, Alabama, and Texas A&M. Georgia’s class is small, but 22.2/48.9/1:46.2 freestyler Maxine Parker should help cover the four relay legs vacated by Veronica Burchill.

Alabama graduated just two scoring seniors, and adds a pretty deep recruiting class – they should be in line to rise significantly from last year, and maybe even contend for some medley relay titles after adding Canadian breaststroker Avery Wiseman (1:08.4/2:28.2 long course) and Bulgarian freestyler Diana Petkova (25.5/56.3 long course). Texas A&M loses an awful lot off their relays, but they do have a deep class coming in, led by a bunch of breaststrokers. Arizona freestyler Monica Gumina (1:46.3/4:46.5) would have scored at SECs last year and should be an immediate-impact addition.

There’s a chance Florida will get Mabel Zavaros back from an Olympic redshirt, though there’s no official word yet. They do have a big class coming in with a pretty wide range of talent.

The relay numbers are a little misleading for Arkansas – they only graduate four relay legs, but they were high-impact sprint legs from Anna Hopkin. Still, British recruit Emily Barclay (24.9/56.4 long course free) should help ease that loss some.

We’re also pretty high on Kentucky‘s class, which just missed our honorable mentions but has a good breaststroker in Anna Havens Rice (1:01.7/2:14.5) and a pair of 1:47 freestylers.

2021 Outlook

The top four could really go any which way at this point, and will probably be decided in large part based on who swims the college season and who sits out to prep for the Olympics. For now, we’ll take a Georgia team that returns 15 of 20 relay legs, has double-SEC breaststroke champion Zoie Hartman on the roster and brings in elite sprint recruit Maxine Parker.

Tennessee should reload in a big way – it just depends how well the relays can hold up their game-breaking 2020 scoring. Kentucky is the really sneaky program to watch the next few years – they had seven SEC-scoring freshmen last year and have developed so many great college swimmers lately.

Florida may have to lean hard on a deep, but developmental, freshman class after graduating nine scoring seniors including their relay powerhouse Sherridon Dressel. But getting a healthy Talia Bates could be a big step up from last year, when she swam injured at SECs.

Way down the list, keep an eye on LSU, which got more than half of its individual points last year (147/247) from freshmen and returns all 12 of its free relay legs. The only relay legs graduating are breast and fly on the medleys, where LSU arguably has equal or better in-house replacements: freshman Niamh Robinson was 59.8 as a freshman and LSU’s medley relay split was just 1:01.2. Meanwhile freshman Olivia Taylor dropped from 55.1 to 53.9 in the fly last year, and has a shot to better LSU’s graduated relay leg of 53.2.

Way-Too-Early SEC Picks

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

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JCO
6 months ago

Alabama was 11th in 2019 and are now in a position to win relays and be top 5 next season. Just goes to show what a new staff can do in a short period of time

GA Boy
6 months ago

I’m just gonna throw it out there that I’m pretty sure everyone is shocked Kentucky is at the top of this list.

JCO
Reply to  GA Boy
6 months ago

They’ve been 3rd the last two seasons and return the most points out of anyone in the conference. I’d be more shocked to see Kentucky lower than 2nd or 3rd next year to be honest

Swimnerd
Reply to  GA Boy
6 months ago

Well if you were ever at the SEC championship meet, you would notice outside of the 50,100 free, and sprint relays the UK women put on quite a show. For a team that doesn’t get the press that UGA, TAM, UF, and Tennessee have over the years, they seem to do a great job recruiting and developing their talent.

That could be due to the fact that they haven’t won an SEC title in the last decade but have slowly risen to the top of the conference.

So essentially, what I’m trying to say is they’re the Women’s version of UGA’s men’s team, if you needed a point of reference.

swimtalk
Reply to  Swimnerd
6 months ago

100% agree with that comparison. UK women and UGA men are both sleeper teams.

Brian
Reply to  GA Boy
6 months ago

It seems that Lars is a really good coach. He did great work at Toledo too.

swim6847
6 months ago

Georgia could also get a big boost to their relays and individual points if Eva Merrell is healthy and able to compete this year

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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