The University of Tennessee swept duel meets yesterday afternoon against host UNC-Wilmington, in the season opener for both of their swimming and diving teams. This is the third-straight season that Tennessee has made the treck to the coast to take on the Aquahawks to begin their season.
The Vols defeated their hosts, 174-117 on the men’s side and 166-120 on the women’s side, posting the fastest times and highest scores in all 32 events, including diving.
There was no stopping the Tennessee Men, as they took command of the meet from the very beginning. Starting with the 200 Medley Relay, Tennessee’s C relay took the win in 1:31.56, with a great leadoff split from the defending SEC 200 Backstroke Champion, Sean Lehane (22.91). The Vols A and B relay followed closely, in 1:32.60 and 1:32.74, showing a strong breaststroke leg from freshman Peter Stevens (24.83). Aquahawk Men would turn in a respectful 1:33.62, coming in fourth.
Redshirt freshman and open-water stud, David Heron escalated the momentum for the Vols with a record-setting performance in the 1000 Free, worthy of his MVN Nadadore heritage. Heron wasted no time, taking the win in 9:11.21, which broke UNCW’s 19-year-old pool record and places him eighth all-time in Tennessee history. “During the race, I was trying to make this record,” said Heron. “I wanted to take (the start) out a little fast and then follow with a pace where I seemed comfortable. Then, I just tried not to slow down.” Trevor Leland and Ben Miller would finish in 9:34.08 and 9:37.07, completing the Vol distance sweep.
The Vols were relentless, taking the wins and fastest times in the rest of the events:
- Gustav Aberg Ledjstrom (200 Free-1:44.24), with Aquahawk Alex Labonge taking third in 1:45.04.
- Jimmy Dagley (100 Back-50.10), against solid second and third-place swims from Aquahawks Valtteri Halonen (51.10) and Chase Copeland (54.08).
- Peter Stevens (100 Breast-57.37), with Aquahawk Daniel Dozier taking third in 59.56.
- Miles Garner (200 Fly-1:54.80).
- Troy Tillman (50 Free-21.17), against respectable second and third-place swims from Aquahawks Drew Gaertner (21.42) and Ned Tyler (21.49).
- Chris Sadsad (100 Free–46.38), not to mention a strong exhibition swim from freshman Sam McHugh (46.86).
- Tristan Slater (200 Back-1:52.83), with another strong Aquahawk backstroke duo of Valtteri Halonen (1:53.58) and Connor Williams (1:56.07) placing second and third.
- Ross Dibblin (200 Breast-2:07.47).
- Evan Pinion (500 Free-4:40.50).
- Sean Lehane (100 Fly-50.88), against a third-best time in the event from Aquahawk Zach Sowers (51.58).
Vol freshman Sam McHugh would show that he could swim more than just sprint freestyle, winning the 200 I.M. in 1:52.20 against a third-fastest time in the event from Aquahawk Michael Thomas (2:01.21). The Vols D relay, which was an exhibition squad, would come away with the fastest time in the 400 Free Relay (3:06.03), but the Vols A relay would take the win, with the second-fastest time in the event, 3:06.37.
Tennessee women used a versatile squad to take the fastest times in every event. The Lady Vols would start their meet in similar fashion to the men, with a one-two finish in the 200 Medley Relay, going 1:44.01 and 1:46.63, followed closely by the Aquahawks in 1:46.85. Molly Hannis (28.02) and Harper Bruens (24.96) breast and fly splits set their relay apart from the rest of the field.
Lauren Driscoll led a Lady Vol distance sweep, winning the 1000 Free in 10:10.35. Another Tennessee sweep followed in the 200 Free, with Madison Hahn leading the way in 1:54.49, followed closely by freshman Micah Bohon (1:54.61) and Camryne Morris (1:55.02). The 100 Back would prove to be a tight battle between Christina Leander (57.65) from Tennessee and Hannah Stephenson (57.73) from UNC-Wilmington.
The 100 Breast was a strong event for the Aquahawks, with Jensen Engen (1:05.62) and Christine Souther (1:06.73) placing second and third, but they could not touch Lady Vol Molly Hannis, who commanded the race with a 1:03.72. Heather Lundstrom and Mary Griffith would battle each other for the win in the 200 Fly, with Lundstrum taking it in 2:05.39 to Griffith’s 2:06.91. Aquahawk Sarah Smith would come in third with a time of 2:10.34.
Lady Vol freshman, Alex Cleveland made her college debut by winning the 50 Free in 23.72 against her teammate Cherelle Thompson (24.15). Cleveland was thrilled with her win, as well as her meet as a whole. “It was a lot different, a lot faster than what I am used to, but I am excited for more,” said Cleveland. “It was really exciting because I knew I was going against the best of the best and I was in shock and very happy and I can’t wait to race more people.”
Chelsea Tomko of the Aquahawks took third in the 50 Free with a 24.63. Chelsea Tomko would come back to swim the 100 Free soon after, taking the fourth-fastest time in the event, 53.98, but Harper Bruens would show her versatility in the Lady Vol line-up by winning in a time of 52.00. Tennessee did not give an inch to UNC-Welmington, as Amanda Carner dominated the 200 Back in 2:00.63. Lauren Driscoll showed her versatility as well, with a strong exhibition swim of 2:03.88.
Another Lady Vol freshmen, Micah Bohon, would win her first individual college event in the 200 Breast, with a time of 2:22.34. Bohon faced strong opposition from Aquahawks Christine Souther (2:24.26) and Jensen Engen (2:24.29), who placed second and third. Madeline Tegner of Tennessee destroyed the field in the 500 Free, going 4:58.35.
A trio of sub 1:00 flyers from the Aquahawks, led by Sara Smith (59.21), chased Lady Vol Faith Johnson, as she took the 100 Fly in 56.81. Tennessee freshman Amy Lubawy, swam the second-fastest time in the event, with an exhibition swim of 57.52. The 200 I.M. showed Tennessee taking the three fastest times in the event, with Amanda Carner leading the charge in 2:05.31. Micah Bohon (2:06.30) and Lauren Driscoll (2:07.56) finished their versatile individual programs with the second and third fastest times, ahead of Aquahawk Christine Souther (2:12.61).
Tennessee ended their meet the same way they started it, taking the three fastest times in the 400 Free Relay (3:31.63, 3:32.55, and 3:38.70). UNC-Wilmington took the fourth-fastest time in the event with a 3:38.75.
The Vols and Lady Vols will meet up with the Aquahawks for more action this weekend, with both teams competing in an open water race at Wrightsville Beach.