Swimming & Diving
Swimming and Diving 2022-23 Season Preview

Swimming and Diving 2022-23 Season Preview

by Greg Welsh

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 2022-23 swim and dive season is set to get underway as Kentucky prepares to kick-off the year at the team’s annual blue/white intrasquad meet at Lancaster Aquatic Center, Friday, Sept. 23 at 3 p.m.

The meet will be the first of several exciting events on the calendar for the Wildcats, including a total of six dual meets and numerous high-level invitationals.

During the dual meet portion of the schedule, Kentucky will take on five schools ranked inside the top 25 in the final 2021-22 CSCAA rankings, including Indiana, NC State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Louisville.  Three of these five matchups will be held at the Lancaster Aquatic Center as Indiana, Georgia and Louisville are all slated to make the journey to Lexington.

“We swim a super competitive dual meet schedule where we are just trying to prepare to be competitive in February and March,” head coach Lars Jorgensen said. “I think both teams (men and women) have the opportunity to improve upon last year’s results.”

This season’s postseason slate features the SEC Championship, Feb. 14-18, in College Station, Texas along with the NCAA Championships, March 15-18 (women) and March 22-25 (men). The women’s championship will be held in Knoxville, Tenn. and the men’s in Minneapolis, Minn.

Kentucky is coming off a 2021-22 season in which both the men and women competed at the NCAA Championships, placing 12th and 31st, respectively. In all, 12 women combined for 33 NCAA entries while seven men received NCAA bids.

The Cats also found great success in the SEC a season ago, with the women finishing second in the conference and the men posting eighth place. The Wildcats totaled 15 podium finishes in all at the 2022 conference meet, including three individual titles.

Looking to build off these results in 2022-23, the Kentucky women figure to be among the best in the conference once again. The Cats have placed inside the top-15 at NCAAs in each of the last five seasons and return 28 student-athletes from the 2021-22 team. In all, seven All-America selections are back in Lexington including Catlin Brooks, Gillian Davey, Izzy Gati, Kyndal Knight, Lauren Poole, Beth McNeese and Anna Havens-Rice.

Davey, a senior who hails from Urbandale, Iowa, was named All-SEC First-Team last season and won gold at the conference championship in the 200 breaststroke, an event she holds the UK program record in.  Knight is back for a fifth-year after being named SEC Co-Diver of the Year last season and receiving All-America Honorable Mention in the 1-meter, 3-meter and 10-meter platform. Fellow fifth-year Izzy Gati and senior Caitlin Brooks form a dynamic butterfly tandem sure to score significant points for the Wildcats, while Poole is primed for a huge season in the water fresh off a top-five finish at NCAAs in the 400 IM. Junior Bridget Engel returns to campus after setting the program record in the 100m breaststroke this summer and will be another name to watch this season.

Joining the decorated group of upperclassmen are 11 freshman who will hope to provide a boost for the Cats in their quest to return to the top of the SEC. The class is ranked 15th in the country by Swim Swam and is headlined by the likes of Lydia Hanlon, Denise Phelan and Jordan Agliano.

The Kentucky men bring back 15 student-athletes while adding 10 newcomers to their 25-man roster. Several top performers are set to return, starting with 2021-22 first-team All-American, Mason Wilby. Wilby is a two-time NCAA qualifier and was selected to the All-SEC Second-Team last year. The Florida native enters the season owning the program’s top time in the 200 IM, 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly. Junior Max Berg is also back for the Cats after an outstanding 2021-22 campaign which saw the Frenchmen set the school record in the 200 freestyle on his way to earning SEC Second-Team honors for the second time. Sophomore Nick Caruso, too, appears in line for a big season after an impressive summer in which he set new program bests in both the 400m and 800m freestyle, while junior Zane Rosely is poised to be a factor in distance events. Reigning SEC Second-Team selection Jakob Clark figures to be an important contributor for the Cats, as does junior diver Sam Duncan who has earned NCAA Championship nods in each his first two seasons.

UK’s freshman class earned a No. 13 ranking from Swim Swam and features several members who could provide immediate contributions such as Levi Sandidge, a freshman from Richardson, Texas who was named to USA Swimming’s National Junior Team earlier this week.

The 2022-23 Wildcats will be led men’s captains Sam Duncan and Mason Wilby and women’s captains Caitlin Brooks, Gillian Davey, Izzy Gati, Lauren Poole, Kyndal Knight and Kaitlynn Wheeler. Head Coach Lars Jorgensen is in his tenth season with the program.

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