With only one NCAA dual meet on the SEC schedule, it is a light weekend but one with added excitement.
Alabama and Texas A&M send athletes to Austin for the star-studded Arena Pro Swim Series, and the Auburn Tigers will participate in the open Ralph Crocker Invite in Auburn. As for that lone SEC dual meet, it is South Carolina hosting Mizzou on Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Last week, SEC teams put in strong mid-season performances. Leading the way were the Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs who looked to the give the Texas Longhorns a one-two punch on Thursday (Auburn) and Saturday (Georgia) in separate dual meets, but only Georgia’s women notched a win against the Longhorns (meet recap).
The marquee match-up between Georgia and Texas produced one of the six SEC weekly honors, as Georgia’s Nicolas Fink earned SEC Male Swimmer of the Week. Fink was victorious against the Longhorns in the 100-yard breaststroke (53.58) and the 200-yard breaststroke (1:55.19), and he contributed to the Bulldog’s 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay wins.
Aggies Dominate SEC Weekly Honors
The Aggies are aces, according to the SEC, who gave five of its six weekly honors (full report) to College Station athletes on Tuesday for back-to-back meets last Thursday and Friday.
Last Thursday, the A&M women defeated Tennessee and SMU (meet recap) and the men defeated Missouri State but fell to the Volunteers (meet recap). On Friday, the full Aggie team took on Alabama in College Station, Tx., where the Aggie women and Alabama men were victorious (meet recap).
Three freshmen with out-of-country passports took three of the five weekly SEC honors earned by Texas A&M. Canadian Tyler Henschel is Male Diver of the Week, breaststroker Mauro Castillo, who is from Mexico, is Male Freshman of the Week, and France’s Beryl Gastaldello is Female Freshman of the Week.
Senior Sarah Henry had a hand in seven individual and relay victories to receive the Female Swimmer of the Week honor, and sophomore Madison Hudkins swept the one-meter and three-meter diving events for Female Diver of the Week.
SEC In Austin For Arena Pro Swim Series
There is an SEC presence at the three-day Arena Pro Swim Series, which started Thursday morning in Austin, with Alabama and Texas A&M sending athletes to compete against some of the biggest swim stars on the long course stage at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
The SEC presents several athletes in positions to challenge for top finishes. For Texas A&M, the performers will likely be Sarah Henry (200, 400 and 800-meter free and 200 and 400-meter IM), Beryl Gastaldello (100-meter free, fly and back), Lili Ibanez Lopez (100-meter free), Ashley McGregor (200-meter breast), Bethany Galat (100-meter breast, 200-meter IM), Franko Jonker (100-meter and 200-meter breast), Lisa Bratton (100 and 200-meter back), and Sycerika McMahon (200-meter IM). The A&M women (‘A’ and ‘B’ teams) will also place well in the relays.
For Alabama, the best bets for top Tide finishes are Kaylin Burchell (200-meter breast), Kristen Vourna (100-meter fly), Kristian Gkolomeev (50 and 100-meter free), Brett Walsh (50 and 100-meter free), Anton McKee (100-meter breast), and Pavel Romanov (200-meter breast).
Auburn Hosts Ralph Crocker Invite
Auburn University and Auburn Aquatics host the three-day Ralph Crocker Invite (Jan. 16-18) at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala. Swimmers from more than 25 teams are participating in the open meet, including members of the 10th (men) and 12th (women) NCAA-ranked Auburn Tigers.
The invitational, which starts Friday, honors Ralph Crocker, who left a great legacy at Auburn when he died in 2007 at the age of 52 after a long illness. His legacy started with him swimming for Auburn between 1972 and 1975.
Crocker, whose last position with Auburn was Associate Director of Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving, served the Tigers with seven full seasons and helped deliver eight NCAA and 10 SEC Championships, including coaching eight distance swimmers to 10 NCAA and SEC individual championship titles.
Perhaps the most impressive mark was the team’s dual meet record of 102 wins versus three losses when Crocker was there. Equally impressive numbers are the 82 swimmers he coached to 660 All-American honors.
Although Crocker coached all groups, he is primarily identified with the distance squad, which was often referred to with fondness as, “Ralph’s House of Pain.”
South Carolina Hosts Mizzou For A Saturday Dual
It’s a good ol’ dual meet to complement the big splashy meets in Austin and Auburn, as South Carolina hosts the Mizzou Tigers on Saturday in Columbia S.C. at the Carolina Natatorium. Start time is at 12 p.m. CST.
The Gamecocks come off a split with Duke last weekend (recap), as the men defeated the Blue Devils 158-136 and the women suffered a 30-point loss (135-165). The full South Carolina squad was defeated by Harvard at the same meet (recap), which concluded last weekend in Durham N.C.
It will be the first action of the year for Mizzou, whose men are ranked 8th and women 16th in the final 2014 College Swimming Coaches Association of America’s (CSCAA) NCAA Division I rankings, which was released in mid-December.