Kentucky Women Finish Third, Match Highest Finish in Program History at SEC Championships
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Kentucky swimming and diving team wrapped up its successful run at the 2017 Southeastern Conference Championships Saturday night with the women posting their highest finish since the 1999 campaign, placing third with a score of 938 points. The men finished 10th overall with a 481.5 tally.
Aside from the extraordinary finish, the highlight of the day came in the women’s 200-yard backstroke as the Wildcats qualified four athletes for the evening’s championship final. Going into the race, freshman Asia Seidt held the fastest time after posting a 1:51.52 in prelims, while defending NCAA champion Danielle Galyer owned the second-fastest.
The duo would live up to those times, as Seidt earned her first gold medal with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:50.22 and Danielle picked up her second-consecutive silver medal in the race in 1:51.17. Freshman Ali Galyer finished sixth overall in the race and junior Bridgette Alexander turned in the seventh-fastest time. In all, the four added 107 points to the team score in that race alone.
“It was a great day. What a finish,” said head coach Lars Jorgensen. “As far as the team points, we were pretty far behind going into today. The girls really rallied. It was a fantastic finish led by the 200 backstroke. Asia Seidt with the victory, but all four girls making the finals was huge. But it was really just everybody contributing a little bit to our success. Every person here has been awesome, so it’s been a magical week.”
The Wildcats also saw tremendous success in the women’s 1650 freestyle as every single Wildcat entered in the race scored. Led by senior Kendal Casey, who earned a bronze medal in the 500 free on Tuesday, turned in the top time for Kentucky in the race to finish fourth overall with a personal-best time of 16:11.90. Paige Kelly, Kathryn Painter and Meredith Whisenhunt each added double-digit scores for the women, finishing inside the top 13 overall.
“The 1650 was a critical event for us, led by Kendal Casey,” said Jorgensen. “Wow, she had a great meet. She was awesome, but all the girls scored in the mile and it was a really good effort.”
Four Kentucky women competed in the 200 breast finals, with senior Kendra Crew leading the way with her 11th-place time of 2:10.42. Madison Winstead finished 16th overall, posting 2:13.90 in the B final. Morgan Belli and Annie Davies each competed in the C final, placing 21st and 24th, respectively.
In their final event of the meet, Freriks, Galyer, Galyer and Seidt teamed up to post a school-record time of 3:16.70 in the 400 free relay, the sixth-fastest in the field.
In the 100 free, Geena Freriks qualified for the B final with a time of 49.32 before posting a 49.41 in the evening session to finish 14th overall.
Sophomore Seb Masterton was a highlight for the men’s side, qualifying for his second consecutive platform diving final. After posting a score of 401.90 in the prelims, the sophomore scored a career-best 423.05 to take fourth overall in the event.
In the men’s 1650 free, junior Isaac Jones set a new school record with his 10th-place time of 14:57.77. He’s the second Wildcat to ever reach the sub-15-minute mark after fellow senior Drew Aviotti accomplished the feat earlier this season. Aviotti was the next-highest finisher in the event, grabbing 12th place overall with a time of 15:03.11. Junior Jack Gunning also scored for UK in the event, going a personal-record time of 15:16.83 to take 22nd.
In the men’s 200 back, Walker Thaning and Josh Swart each posted personal best times to finish 16th and 19th, respectively. Thaning went 1:43.70 in the prelims to become No. 2 on Kentucky’s all-time performance list, while Swart went 1:44.44 in the finals to claim the No. 3 spot on the list.
Freshman Peter Wetzlar had a huge personal-record in the men’s 100 free, going 43.33 in prelims and 43.51 in the B final to finish 12th overall. Fellow freshman Wyatt Amdor came in 16th in the 200 breaststroke with a B-cut time of 1:58.31.
In the final event of the night, Wetzlar, Cobe Garcia, Sean Gunn and Shane Anderson teamed up to turn in the 9th-best time in the 400 free relay, touching the wall in 2:55.18.
With the conference championships behind them, the Wildcats will look to continue qualifying for next month’s NCAA championships. Kentucky is slated to compete in the Ohio State Last Chance meet as well as the Zone C Diving Championships early next month.