Men's Swimming & Diving
Swimming & Diving Totals Eight Wins on Day One vs. Alabama

Swimming & Diving Totals Eight Wins on Day One vs. Alabama

by Greg Welsh

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky swimming & diving tallied eight victories as the Wildcats went head-to-head with Alabama on Friday for the first day of a two-day dual between SEC foes at the Lancaster Aquatic Center. With two of the meet’s three sessions complete, Kentucky holds a 96-92 lead on the women’s side, while Alabama leads the men’s competition, 110-78.

Sophomore Ryan Merani posted two individual wins, one in the 200 IM and one in the 400 IM, scoring a team-high 18 points on the day. Fellow sophomore Grace Frericks was the leading women’s scorer, totaling 17 points, highlighted by her victory in the 200 freestyle and runner-up efforts in both the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

In the morning session, Frericks (4:48.27) and Caroline Benda (4:48.87) got the Wildcats started, placing second and third respectively in the 500 freestyle, each with season best times. In the men’s 500 free, freshman Carson Hick was Kentucky’s top finisher, grabbing second with a time of 4:24.43.

The UK women dominated then 200 IM, sweeping the podium with freshman Marie Belli leading the way at 2:00.10. She was followed by senior Anna Havens Rice in second at 2:00.69, and senior Torie Buerger in third with a time of 2:00.97. Merani earned his first win of the day in the men’s 200 IM, posting a time of 1:46.03 to win by more than a full second.

In the 50 Freestyle, Kaelan Daly was the top UK woman at 22.98, good for fourth place, while Max Berg (19.84) and Victor Martin Roig (20.33) both notched podium finishes for the men.

The morning also saw select divers compete in a platform exhibition event, which was won by Claire McDaniels on the women’s side with a score of 259.43. Sophomore Jodi Cobb finished third, posting a career-best, and NCAA zone cut, at 241.43.

The Cats began the evening session with a bang as Benda (4:15.45) and Belli (4:16.66) went one-two in the 400 IM, both with NCAA B-standard times. For Belli, it marked the first NCAA B-standard swim of her young collegiate career. It was another one-two finish for the Wildcats in the men’s race with Merani (3:45.98) and Sandidge (3:49.42) each clocking B-standard times of their own.

Rice and Daly swam to second and third place, respectively, in the women’s 100 butterfly, with Rice earning Kentucky’s first B-standard time of the season in the event with a swim of 53.29. Carter Ruthven was UK’s top men’s finisher, as the freshman took third at 48.37.

The women’s 200 freestyle was won by Frericks at 1:47.13, with Kentucky freshman Lauren West taking runner-up honors with a career-best time of 1:48.17. Berg was third on the men’s side, touching the wall in 1:35.39, while Victor Martin Roig clocked his first NCAA B-standard of the season at 1:35.65.

Bridget Engel and Denise Phelan each threw down B-standards in the women’s 100 breast, placing third and fourth respectively with times of 1:00.33 and 1:00.79. In the men’s 100 breast, Lance Johnson moved up the record books with the fifth-fastest swim in program history, registering a 53.86 to finish second.

The swimming portion of the day closed with the 100 backstroke, where Buerger (52.86) and Frericks (53.62) were first and second for the women, each under the NCAA B-standard cut line. Jack Hamilton was the men’s top finisher in third at 48.87.

The session closed with diving, where Kentucky was victorious in both the men’s 1-meter and women’s 3-meter springboard competitions. Senior captain Sam Duncan cruised to first place for the men, finishing with a season-best score of 370.05 to top the second-place diver by more than 75 points. Freshman Gavin Hang also had a strong showing, mustering a career-best mark of 288.30 to take third. Junior Abby Devereaux claimed the top spot in the women’s 3-meter with a score of 303.30, while freshman Devynn Bishop turned in a career-best, and NCAA zone cut, at 286.80.

Kentucky and Alabama will return to the Lancaster Aquatic Center tomorrow morning for the decisive final session of the dual at 9 a.m. Admission is free to the public. Live results can be found on the Meet Mobile app.

Kentucky Event Winners –

  • Marie Belli: 200 IM (2:00.10)
  • Ryan Merani: 200 IM (1:46.03), 400 IM (3:45.98)
  • Sam Duncan: 1-meter diving (370.05)
  • Abby Devereaux: 3-meter diving (303.90)
  • Caroline Benda: 400 IM (4:15.45)
  • Grace Frericks: 200 Freestyle (1:47.13)
  • Torie Buerger: 100 Back (52.86)

New NCAA B-Standards –

  • Marie Belli: 400 IM (4:16.66)
  • Levi Sandidge: 400 IM (3:49.42)
  • Anna Havens Rice: 100 Fly (53.29)
  • Victor Martin Roig: 200 Free (1:35.65)
  • Denise Phelan: 100 Breast (1:00.79)
  • Grace Frericks: 100 Back (53.62)

New NCAA Zone Cuts –

  • Devynn Bishop: 3-meter (286.80)
  • Jodi Cobb: Platform (241.43)

Top-10 Times in Program History –

  • 5th – Men’s 100 Breast: Lance Johnson (53.86)

For the latest on UK Swim & Dive, follow the Wildcats on X and Instagram at @UKSwimDive, and on Facebook at Kentucky Swimming and Diving.

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