Swimming & Diving

Kentucky Earns One Silver, Three Bronze on First Night of SEC Championships

by Chandler Brandes

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Kentucky men’s and women’s swimming and diving team collected four medals, achieved three NCAA automatic qualifying standards and broke two school records in an impressive opening night at the 2022 Southeastern Conference Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Both the Wildcat men and women sit in third heading into the second day of competition at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center. The men have 153 points while the 13th-ranked women boast a score of 148 through the first six events of the five-day meet. 

Kyndal Knight secured a medal in the first event of the evening, earning bronze on the women’s 1-meter springboard with a final score of 309.25. This marked the senior’s first podium finish on this discipline in her career as a Wildcat and bested her prelims score of 288.95.

The women’s 200 medley relay team of Caitlin Brooks (23.96), Bailey Bonnett (26.86), Izzy Gati (23.38) and Riley Gaines (22.32) combined to give Kentucky another bronze medal. Their time of 1:35.87 matched their own school record set at this meet last year and is an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA Championships.  

The Wildcats’ highest finish of the evening came in the women’s 800 free relay. Gati (1:45.36), Gaines (1:41.92), Sophie Sorenson (1:44.41) and Kaitlynn Wheeler (1:45.91) joined together for a time of 6:57.60 for the fourth fastest time in the nation and an NCAA A standard. 

Gaines, the defending SEC champion in the 200 free, had the fastest split in the 36-person field by a half-second.

The men’s 800 free relay also achieved the NCAA automatic qualifying time en route to earning the bronze medal. Max Berg (1:33.17), Mason Wilby (1:33.42), Victor Martin Roig (1:33.02) and Jakob Clark (1:34.74) posted a time of 6:14.35, crushing the previous school record of 6:18.11 from 2020.

As the leadoff leg on the bronze-medal relay, Berg’s split of 1:33.17 set a new program record in the 200 free. His time broke Wilby’s previous mark of 1:33.87 from last year.

Competing in his first SEC Championship final, Rodrigo Romero finished sixth on the men’s 3-meter springboard after posting a final score of 375.90. Not only did that top his prelims score of 352.35, but it was also 38.10 points better than his personal best coming into the meet. He now ranks 10th all-time in Kentucky history.

Danny Zhang and Sam Duncan both competed on the 3-meter during prelims, finishing ninth (352.25) and 12th (326.25), respectively, to give the Wildcat men crucial points. On the women’s side, Morgan Southall also dove in prelims on the 1-meter where she finished 16th overall in 236.95.

The men’s 200 medley relay team consisting of Jack Hamilton (22.56), Kyle Barker (24.14), Jackson Mussler (22.22) and Mac Russell (20.59) finished in 1:29.51 for ninth place. 

The Wildcats dive back in on Wednesday, Feb. 16 for day two of the SEC Championships. Tomorrow’s event lineup includes the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free, men’s 1-meter and 200 free relay with prelims starting at 9:30 a.m. ET and finals commencing at 5:30 p.m.

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

Medal Count: 4
Gold: 0

Silver: 1
Women’s 800 free relay

Bronze: 3
Knight, women’s 1-meter
Women’s 200 medley relay
Men’s 800 free relay

School Record Count: 2
Men’s 800 free relay (6:14.35)
Berg, men’s 200 free (1:33.17)

NCAA Automatic Qualifying Standard Count: 3
Women’s 200 medley relay (1:35.87)
Women’s 800 free relay (6:57.60)
Men’s 800 free relay (6:14.35)

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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