Swimming & Diving

Gaines Breaks 200 Fly SEC Record, Wildcats Earn Three Bronze on Fourth Night in Knoxville

by Chandler Brandes

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It was a night to remember for the Kentucky swimming and diving team on the fourth day at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, highlighted by Riley Gaines breaking the league and championship record in the 200 fly to earn her second gold medal of the meet.

In total, the Wildcats collected four medals, achieved three NCAA automatic qualifying standards and broke three school records on an impressive evening at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center. The 13th-ranked women’s squad is currently in third with 712 points — just 42 points behind Georgia — while the men sit in eighth with a score of 462. 

Gaines stole the show in the women’s 200 fly, earning her second gold medal of the meet in 1:51.51 for the fastest time in the country and an NCAA A cut. The senior also broke both the conference and meet record of 1:52.04 set by Georgia’s Dakota Luther in 2021. Luther was the runner-up in 1:51.65 behind Gaines, who also crushed the Kentucky program record of 1:52.08 held by Christina Bechtel since 2015. 

Mason Wilby also had a medal-worthy and record-breaking swim in the men’s 200 fly. After lowering his own school record during prelims, he obliterated that mark with an NCAA A standard time of 1:40.15 for bronze, the first individual medal of his career. His best time entering the weekend was 1:42.26, and he now becomes the first UK male swimmer to medal at the conference meet since Lucas Gerotto secured bronze in the 100 fly back in 2012. 

Securing yet another medal for the Wildcats was Caitlin Brooks, who collected bronze for the second year in a row in the women’s 100 back. She finished with a time of 51.54, just off her lifetime best of 51.03 which ranks third all-time in school history.  Brooks (51.46) then teamed up with Bonnett (58.27), Gaines (51.31) and Sophie Sorenson (48.70) to earn another bronze medal, this time in the women’s 400 medley relay. Their NCAA A cut time of 3:29.74 was just shy of the school record of 3:29.69, while Brooks’ leadoff split was a personal best. 

Bailey Bonnett set the third school record of the evening in the women’s 100 breast en route to placing sixth overall, as her time of 59.11 broke Madison Winstead’s 2018 mark of 59.38. Swimming in their first SEC final was Olivia Mendenhall, who touched in 1:01.15 for 23rd overall and a best time.

Also competing in the first conference final of his career, freshman Jackson Mussler threw down a lifetime best of 1:44.19 to finish 10th in the men’s 200 fly and move up to No. 5 all-time in program history. Zane Rosely also notched a best time, taking 18th in 1:45.03 to move up to No. 8. Anna Havens Rice won the B-final of the women’s 200 fly in lifetime best of 1:55.86 to move up to No. 5 all-time in the record book. Izzy Gati was right behind her in 1:56.15 for 10th while Kristyn Sabol flew to 20th in 1:58.10 for a personal record of her own.

Joining Brooks in the A-final of the women’s 100 back was Sorenson, who clocked in at 52.65 for eighth. Parker Herren and Torie Buerger both raced in the C-final, finishing in 53.19 and 53.22 for 18th and 19th, respectively. 

Danny Zhang dove to fourth on the men’s platform with a score of 394.60, his eighth top-4 SEC finish of his career. Rodrigo Romero and Sam Duncan also scored points for the Wildcat men on platform, with Romero finishing ninth in 332.35 and Duncan posting a personal record of 277.55 for 17th.

The men’s 400 medley relay squad of Wilby (46.91), Kyle Barker (53.62), Max Berg (47.86) and Victor Martin Roig (43.27) finished 11th in 3:11.66. Wilby’s leadoff split was a best time and the second-fastest time in school history, just .06 off Gerotto’s school record.

Prior to the start of the session, Gaines was named the 2022 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for her accomplishments in the classroom and in the pool. 

Kentucky takes to the pool for the final day of the SEC Championships on Saturday, Feb. 19. Tomorrow’s event lineup includes the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, mile, women’s platform and 400 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: 11
Gold: 2
Gaines, women’s 200 free
Gaines, women’s 200 fly

Silver: 2
Women’s 800 free relay
Poole, women’s 400 IM

Bronze: 7
Knight, women’s 1-meter
Women’s 200 medley relay
Men’s 800 free relay
Davey, women’s 400 IM 
Wilby, men’s 200 fly
Brooks, women’s 100 back
Women’s 400 medley relay

School Record Count: 7
Men’s 800 free relay (6:14.35)
Berg, men’s 200 free (1:33.17)
Wilby, men’s 200 IM (1:43.05)
Gaines, women’s 200 free (1:42.62)
Gaines, women’s 200 fly (1:51.51)
Wilby, men’s 200 fly (1:40.15)
Bonnett, women’s 100 breast (59.11)

Southeastern Conference Record Count: 1
Gaines, women’s 200 fly (1:51.51)

SEC Meet Record Count: 1
Gaines, women’s 200 fly (1:51.51)

NCAA Automatic Qualifying Standard Count: 8
Women’s 200 medley relay (1:35.87)
Women’s 800 free relay (6:57.60)
Men’s 800 free relay (6:14.35)
Poole, women’s 400 IM (4:03.36)
Gaines, women’s 200 free (1:42.62)
Gaines, women’s 200 fly (1:51.51)
Wilby, men’s 200 fly (1:40.15)
Women’s 400 medley relay (3:29.74)

Personal Record Count: 43

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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