Riley Gaines Named Brad Davis SEC Community Service Leader of the Year
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The awards keep coming in for Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who has been named the 2021-22 Brad Davis Southeastern Conference Community Service Female Leader of the Year.
Gaines, along with South Carolina track and field athlete David Olds as the male recipient, was chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities and announced by Commissioner Greg Sankey on Tuesday. Both student-athletes will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship provided by the league.
First presented by the SEC in 1996, Gaines is the fifth Wildcat and first UK swimmer to win the prestigious award, joining Carrie Kuhnell (women’s soccer, 1999), Antoine Huffman (football, 2006), Megan Moir (women’s golf, 2013) and Grace Trimble (women’s tennis, 2015).
Gaines has a remarkable track record of community service, having been involved in programs such as God’s Pantry, Special Olympics of Kentucky, Give 10 (R.E.A.L. Read), the Shriner’s Hospital and Amachi during her time in Lexington. She also participated in the Kentucky United Telethon, which raised more than $3 million for the American Red Cross to help tornado victims.
Earlier this year, she was inducted into the 2022 Frank G. Ham Society of Character which honors student-athletes who show an extraordinary commitment to academic excellence, athletic participation, personal development, career preparation and serving as a role model.
Also a standout in the classroom, Gaines – who graduated summa cum laude with a 3.876 cumulative grade-point average as a health sciences major – earned a spot on the Dean’s List all eight semesters and the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll four times. She has landed on the SEC Academic Honor Roll the past four years and is a three-time College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America First Team selection.
The Gallatin, Tennessee native was also tabbed the 2022 SEC Women’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming the fourth Wildcat to win the award in program history. It also marked the fourth time in the last eight years a member of the UK women’s team has won it.
Her accomplishments in the pool are just as impressive as they are out of the water. A two-time team captain, Gaines graduated as one of the most decorated swimmers in program history. She owns the school record in three individual and four relay events, is an Olympic Trials qualifier and was instrumental in UK winning its first-ever SEC title in 2021. She has also amassed 12 All-America honors throughout her four-year career in the blue and white.
She tied for fifth in the 200 free at the 2022 NCAA Championships, marking the highest individual finish of her career at the national meet while also garnering honorable mention recognition in the 200 fly, 400 medley relay and 800 free relay. She found herself on the All-SEC First Team for the second season in a row after bringing home two gold, one silver and two bronze medals at this year’s conference meet. Gaines’ performances in all three of her individual races at the SEC Championships set new program standards, while her winning time of 1:51.51 in the 200 fly was a meet and conference record and moved her up to the 16th-fastest swim in U.S. history.
On May 5, Gaines and baseball’s Mason Hazlewood were announced as Kentucky’s winners of the Brad Davis Community Service Award, which is given to one female and one male student-athlete in each of the league’s 14 members. All recipients will receive a $5,000 scholarship provided by the SEC.
The SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship is named for former associate commissioner Brad Davis, who succumbed to cancer on March 2, 2006. He had been a member of the SEC staff since 1988, first serving as an assistant commissioner until 1994 when he was promoted to associate commissioner.