Swimming & Diving
Riley Gaines Named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Riley Gaines Named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year

by Chandler Brandes

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Kentucky standout Riley Gaines has added yet another honor to her already impressive resume, as she was named the 2022 Southeastern Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Friday. The annual award recognizes one female swimmer or diver for her accomplishments in the classroom and in the pool. 

Gaines certainly has many accomplishments both academically and athletically. The senior, who owns a 3.876 cumulative grade-point average as a health sciences major, has landed on the SEC Academic Honor Roll three times in her career. She is also a three-time College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America First Team selection.

The Gallatin, Tennessee native has plans to attend dental school following her graduation from Kentucky this spring. She scored in the top two percent nationally on the Dental Admissions Test, a comprehensive exam used for admission into dental schools. 

Gaines is the fourth SEC Scholar-Athlete in program history, joining the likes of Danielle Galyer (2015, 2016), Asia Seidt (2019) and Chase Lane (2021). This is the first time Kentucky has earned back-to-back honors since Galyer collected the accolade in 2015 and 2016 and marks the fourth time in the last eight years a member of the UK women’s team has won it.

Her performances in the pool are equally as impressive. A five-time All-America selection and three-time All-America Honorable Mention honoree, Gaines led Kentucky to a silver medal in the 800 free relay at the 2021 NCAA Championships. She also finished seventh in the 200 free at the big dance a season ago. 

Gaines was instrumental in the Wildcats clinching their first-ever conference championship title in 2021, winning gold in both the 200 free and 800 free relay as well as bronze in both medley relays last year. She found herself on the All-SEC First Team in 2021 after being tabbed to the All-SEC Second Team as a freshman and sophomore, also earning a spot on the league’s All-Freshman Team in 2019.   

A two-time team captain, she continues to leave her mark on the program for the leadership she has provided Kentucky as well as her record-setting ways. She owns the school record in the 100 free, 200 free, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay and 800 free relay, in addition to ranking third in the 200 fly and fourth in the 50 free. Gaines is also an Olympic Trials qualifier. 

The Wildcats are currently competing at the SEC Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, from Feb. 15-19. Swimming in her home state for her final conference meet, Gaines broke her own school record in the 200 free to successfully defend her title on Thursday. She also led UK to silver in the 800 free relay and bronze in the 200 medley relay on the opening night.

Jack Dahlgren, a senior at Missouri, was named the 2022 SEC Men’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.   

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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