Ten SEC teams are in action this week after five heralded in the new year and a busy January with competition last weekend. The conference enters 2015 with great momentum led by the Georgia Bulldogs, who made their mark in the first half of the season with the women and men taking the second and third-place spots in the final 2014 College Swimming Coaches Association of America’s (CSCAA) NCAA Division I rankings released in mid-December.
It all starts on Thursday at 2 p.m. CST (today) with Auburn hosting the Longhorns in a meet that is televised on the SEC Network. It’s also a Thursday start for Texas A&M, too. A&M’s women welcome conference rival Tennessee and the AAC’s SMU, while the men also face the Volunteers, plus Missouri State. The full Aggie team takes on Alabama on Friday, as the Crimson Tide makes the trip to College Station, Tx for a dual meet that starts at 1 p.m. CST.
Vanderbilt hosts Kentucky on Friday at 1 p.m. CST and then Arkansas on Saturday at 11 a.m CST for back-to-back SEC dual meets. The Wildcats will leave Nashville on Friday for Blacksburg, Va. to dual Virginia Tech at 11 a.m. EST.
On Saturday, LSU hosts Tennessee in Baton Rouge. The Volunteers will be traveling from College Station after their Thursday tilt with Texas A&M, SMU (w) and Missouri State (m). Also on Saturday, the SEC’s South Carolina is in Durham, N.C. to dual Duke and Harvard at 1 p.m. EST in a meet that offers a live video feed. And the SEC’s top team, Georgia, hosts the University of Texas for a Division 1 heavy-weight dual meet on Saturday in Athens, GA.
Busy January Has Already Started
Several teams already have a meet behind them, as the Volunteers hosted the three-day Tennessee Diving Invitational, which wrapped on Monday.
It wasn’t just the divers who have opened what is going to be a busy January for the SEC. Auburn, Florida, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina were all competing between the lane ropes last weekend. Auburn defeated South Carolina in a dual meet (full recap), Florida’s Gators defeated Florida State’s men and women (full recap), Missouri suffered losses to Arizona’s men and women (full recap), and LSU dominated SMU (full recap).
All SEC teams have at least three meets in January, leading up to the five-day SEC Championships in Auburn, Alabama (Feb. 17-21). There are also a few multi-day meets for SEC teams in January, including the USA Swimming Austin Grand Prix (Jan. 15-17) and Auburn’s Ralph Crocker Invite (Jan. 16-18), plus several back-to-back dual and tri-meets.
SEC Finishes 2014 with Strong Rankings
The conference finished the first half of the season with a strong showing in the latest CSCAA rankings, published on Dec. 10 (women) and Dec. 11 (men), giving collegiate swim watchers plenty of stories to watch during the second half of the season.
Seven SEC squads placed in the top ten with four men’s teams and three women’s, led by Georgia, whose women rank second behind California and men, who are third behind Texas and California.
Following the Bulldog men in the rankings, which present the top 25 Division 1 teams, are Florida (4th), Missouri (8), Auburn (10), Tennessee (15th), and South Carolina (16th) in the men’s standings, while Texas A&M (4th), Florida (7th) made the top ten with the Georgia women. Tennessee (11th), Auburn (tied for 12th with Minnesota), Missouri (16th), Louisiana State (21st) and Kentucky (25th) also made the women’s rankings to put nine SEC teams in the top 25.
Georgia is Tops in SEC
The cornerstones of a team performance are individual ones, and then were plenty of those over the first half of the season from Georgia’s swimmers, who put the Bulldogs in the second and third spot in the men’s and women’s CSCAA Division 1 rankings.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs are Amber McDermott and Chase Kaslisz, who ended 2014 with some of the country’s top times. Kalisz recorded leading times in the 200-yard (1:43.10) and 400-yard (3:39.28) individual medley events and notched one of the fastest 200-yard fly times (1:42.22). McDermott made noise in the 1,000-yard free (9:43.00), the 500-yard free (4:35.89) and 400-yard individual medley (4:05.25).
The team had more than 30 of the top ten times recorded in the first half of the season.