Swimming & Diving
No. 14 Wildcats Break Three Pool Records as Kentucky Falls to No. 9/11 Louisville

No. 14 Wildcats Break Three Pool Records as Kentucky Falls to No. 9/11 Louisville

by Chandler Brandes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Kentucky broke three pool records in the annual Battle of the Bluegrass in Louisville on Saturday at the Ralph Wright Natatorium, but the No. 14 Wildcat women dropped a 174-126 decision to the 11th-ranked Cardinals. The UK men’s team also suffered a 208.5-88.5 loss to their No. 9 in-state foe. 

Riley Gaines set the first pool record of the day in the 200 free en route to winning the event by over a full second. Her time of 1:43.93 crushed the previous mark of 1:44.58 set by Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey back in 2017, and the Southeastern Conference Female Co-Swimmer of the week also placed second in the 100 free (48.62) and third in the 50 free (22.49). 

Kentucky proved its backstroke dominance by resetting the Ralph Wright Natatorium records previously held by two Cardinals in both the 100 and 200 back. Caitlin Brooks dropped a time of 52.18 in the shorter of the two distances to eclipse Kelsi Worrell’s 2015 mark of 52.53 while Sophie Sorenson demolished Alina Kendzior’s 200 back standard of 1:53.61 set in 2016.

Sorenson also won the 200 IM by a half-second in 1:57.77 and finished second in the 100 back (52.58) while Brooks placed third in the 100 fly (52.87).

Bailey Bonnett gave the Wildcats another win in the 100 breast as the only swimmer in the field to crack the minute-barrier, doing so in 59.89 to be just four-tenths off her lifetime best. She also finished third in both the 200 breast (2:10.03) and 200 IM (1:59.43) as Gillian Davey placed second (2:08.60) and fourth (1:59.49), respectively, in those events.

Leading Kentucky in the distance events was Kaylee Williams, whose runner-up time of 16:23.68 in the 1650 free was slightly off her best time of 16:23.01 set at the 2021 SEC Championships. Beth McNeese placed third in both the 500 free (4:45.90) and mile (16:26.70).

Izzy Gati also had a pair of top-three finishes, racing to second in the 500 free (4:45.61) and third in the 200 fly (1:55.65). Kyndal Knight dominated the 1-meter board with a final score of 290.48, well ahead of UofL’s Else Prassterink (244.50). Abby Devereaux dove to third on the 3-meter after tallying a score of 264.75.

Danny Zhang swept both boards to lead the Kentucky divers on the men’s side, besting the field by nearly 40 points to win the 1-meter with a final score of 363.38. He and Rodrigo Romero finished first and third on the 3-meter, posting respective scores of 387.30 and 353.40.

Also having a number of standout performances during the meet was Mason Wilby, who won the 200 back in a lifetime best of 1:43.20 to move up to No. 2 all-time in school history. His time of 1:42.32 was fast enough for second in the 200 fly and was just shy of his program mark of 1:42.26 set at last year’s NCAA Championships.

Wilby then went on to finish second in the 200 IM in 1:45.85 — only .04 behind Louisville’s Daniel Sos — while Kyle Barker took third in 1:47.59. Also finishing third was Henry Miller in the 200 breast (1:59.70).

Impressing in the distance events was Jakob Clark, who registered runner-up showings in both the 500 free (4:24.36) and mile (15:15.77). Freshman Nick Caruso had a big swim in the mile, setting a new personal best by 11 seconds to finish third in 15:22.27.

Max Berg set a lifetime best of 1:35.80 in the 200 free to take second. He also clocked in at 20.43 and 43.79 to finish fifth and fourth in the 50 free and 100 free, respectively. 

The Wildcats are back in action on Friday, Jan. 28 to host Cincinnati at the Lancaster Aquatic Center for a 4 p.m. ET start time. Prior to the beginning of the meet, Kentucky will honor its graduating seniors as part of the senior day ceremony. 

For the latest on the Kentucky swimming and diving program, follow @UKSwimDive on Twitter and on Instagram, on Facebook and on the web at UKathletics.com.

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