Swimming & Diving

Kentucky Swimming and Diving Set for SEC Championships

by Chandler Brandes

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The postseason is officially here for the Kentucky men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, which is prepared — and eager — to make history once again at the 2022 Southeastern Conference Championships this week. 

The SEC Championships will be hosted by Tennessee and return to a five-day format, taking place Feb. 15-19 at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville. Differing from 2021, this season’s conference meet will resume having both the men’s and women’s competitions held simultaneously.

More information, including the schedule, live results and spectator information, can be found on the meet central page here.

Last season saw the Wildcat women clinch their first SEC title in program history with 1,124 points, besting the previous record of points scored by 136.5. UK collected 12 medals at the conference meet — three gold, three silver and six bronze — in addition to breaking five school records. The winning 800 free relay team gave Kentucky its first SEC relay title since 2007, while Lauren Poole (400 IM) and Riley Gaines (200 free) were individual champions. Ten women also landed on All-SEC teams, including five on the first team.

The men’s team also experienced success at the conference meet in 2021, finishing seventh with 759 points. Kentucky’s point total surpassed the previous program record of 724 points scored the year prior and was the fifth consecutive year the men’s squad had bested the school mark. Zane Rosely and Sam Duncan were both named to the All-SEC Freshman Team while Danny Zhang earned a spot on the All-SEC Second Team.

The women’s program has returned all eight relay swimmers from its historic run last season, as well as 18 of the 20 point scorers and 803 of the 874 individual points accumulated a year ago at the SEC Championships. The men’s team is also in a great position, as five of the eight relay swimmers, 11 of the 15 point scorers, and 330 of the 559 individual points scored at the 2021 conference meet are suiting up for the blue and white once again.

Kentucky has picked up a total of five SEC weekly honors throughout the current 2021-22 season. Kyndal Knight received UK’s first weekly accolade on Oct.19 when she was named the Female Co-Diver of the Week for the fifth time in her career. Earning the second weekly nod of her UK tenure was Gaines who was the Female Co-Swimmer of the Week on Jan. 18, and Sophie Sorenson was tabbed the Female Swimmer of the Week for the first time on Jan. 25.

A pair of Wildcat men collected weekly awards from the league on Feb. 1, marking the second time — and first since 2000 — in program history a UK swimmer and/or diver has been recognized for three consecutive weeks. Zhang earned his third Male Diver of the Week distinction while Nick Caruso collected the first honor of his career as the Male Freshman of the Week. Caruso became the first UK male freshman to earn a weekly SEC award since Brandon Flynn in 2013.

The Wildcats have won meets against Indiana State, Miami Ohio, Ohio, Marshall and Cincinnati during the 2021-22 dual meet season. Kentucky had an impressive showing at the Ohio State Invitational on Nov. 18-20, achieving a combined 50 NCAA B standards and winning eight events. Those event winners included Gaines (200 free, 200 fly), Knight (1-meter, platform), Gillian Davey (400 IM), Caitlin Brooks (100 back), Sorenson (200 back) and the women’s 800 free relay.

Several Wildcats own times that rank in the top 25 nationally heading into championship season. Gaines leads the way at sixth in the 200 free (1:43.81), 15th in the 200 fly (1:54.84) and 19th in the 100 free (48.43). Pacing the backstrokers is Sorenson who sits at No. 10 in the 200 back (1:52.11) while Brooks clocks in at 13th in the 200 back (1:53.07) and 18th in the 100 back (51.93).

Gillian Davey ranks seventh in the 400 IM (4:06.34) followed by Bailey Bonnett (10th, 4:06.96) and Lauren Poole (21st, 4:08.91). On the men’s side, Mason Wilby currently owns the 17th fastest time in the 200 fly (1:42.32).

The Wildcat women enter the meet having checked in at No. 13 in the latest College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America Division I poll, their 16th-consecutive time landing in the top 15. Although currently unranked, the men’s squad received votes in the preseason poll. 

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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