Tennessee junior Kristen Stege defended her mile SEC title tonight touching in a time of 15:42.37. Stege dropped over 15 seconds off of her seed time of 15:57.63.
Stege won the event last year in a 15:47.72, which broke the Tennessee school record by over five seconds. With tonight’s swim, Stege now holds the record by over ten seconds. She also set a Tennessee school record in her first 1000 as well as the top time in the NCAA this season in the 1650.
Earlier in the meet, Stege was third in the 500 freestyle swimming a time of 4:38.50. That time was a season best, but was just off of her time of 4:38.38 which she swam last season.
Stege transferred to Tennessee from East Carolina University (ECU) after the school announced that they would be cutting both their men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. (Note: the women’s team has since been reinstated) As a freshman at ECU, Stege began in the sprint group but eventually made her way to the distance group.
She was recruited out of high school as a sprinter, but asked ECU to place her in the 500 at a dual meet swimming a time of 5:01. She then moved to the mid-distance group and dropped 15 seconds in the 500 at her freshman midseason. Then, she moved to the distance group.
At the AAC Championships her freshman year, Stege swam the 1650 freestyle for the first time ever. In her 1650, she broke the ECU school record as well as the AAC Conference record as she touched in a 16:11.96.
Today’s mile was only her sixth mile ever. She swam it at midseason this year touching in a 15:57.63. Stege finished fourth in the event last year at NCAAs swimming to a time of 15:52.07. Her time today would have placed her second, only half of a second behind Virginia’s Paige Madden who won the event in a 15:41.86. Madden has since graduated.