Men's Swimming & Diving
Merani, Frericks Lead Kentucky in Dual Loss vs. Alabama

Merani, Frericks Lead Kentucky in Dual Loss vs. Alabama

by Greg Welsh

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ryan Merani won his third event of the dual, while Grace Frericks clocked an all-time top ten swim as Kentucky swimming & diving fell to No. 18/19 Alabama on Saturday in a closely contested dual meet at Lancaster Aquatic Center.

In a back-and-forth battle which began with two sessions on Friday and concluded with a third on Saturday morning, the UK women fell just short in a 163-156 defeat, while the Crimson Tide took the men’s competition by a margin of 175-144.

Merani went a perfect three-for-three in his individual events for the weekend, finishing with a team-high 27 points scored, while Frericks led the UK women with 26 points individually.

The Cats began the final session with the 1650 freestyle, where Caroline Benda placed second with Madilyn McGlothen right behind her in third in the women’s race. Sophomore Levi Sandidge led the Cats in the men’s 1650 freestyle, placing first (14:44.89) in his first collegiate meet since Oct. 4. Sandidge’s time was good for the sixth-fastest in the country this season. Freshman Carson Hick made it a one-two finish for the Wildcats in the mile, placing second with an NCAA B-standard mark of 15:21.95.

The UK women dominated the 200 backstroke with the sophomore Frericks leading the way at 1:54.14 for her second victory of the dual. She was followed by senior Torie Buerger in second at 1:56.22. In the men’s 200 backstroke, junior Jackson Mussler put the Cats on the podium, placing third at 1:47.12.

In the men’s 100 freestyle, Max Berg placed at the top with an NCAA B-standard time of 43.27. Victor Martin Roig also nabbed a podium spot, taking third with a time of 43.76. In the 200 breast, Denise Phelan recorded her second “B-Cut” of the meet, touching the wall in 2:12.38 for third place, while teammate Olivia Mendenhall also picked up a new B-standard time at 2:13.42.  Lance Johnson was second for the Cats on the men’s side, posting a time of 1:58.67.

The Wildcats continued their fight with the 200 butterfly to round up individual swimming events for the day. For the women, Anna Havens Rice and Marie Belli swam to second and third place, respectively, while Ryan Merani placed first for the men, clocking a 1:44.18 to win by nearly two full seconds.

It was another successful day on the boards for the Wildcats with Kentucky victorious in both the men’s 3-meter and women’s 1-meter springboard competitions. Sam Duncan was the men’s top finisher with a final score of 372.45. He was joined on the podium by Gavin Hang, who picked up an NCAA zone cut with a score of 328.80. The women swept the top three spots on the 1-meter with Abby Devereaux in first (282.98), Devynn Bishop in second (276.45) and Claire McDaniels in third (264.68). Competing as an exhibition diver, freshman Kristy Pfaff recorded her first NCAA Zone cut on the 3-meter with a score of 274.35.

The meet closed with the 400 freestyle relay, where the Cats finished second in both the men’s and women’s heats. Frericks continued to impress, swimming the lead-off leg in 49.13, the seventh fastest 100-yard time in program history.

UK is back in action when the team travels to rival Louisville, Jan. 27, for a 1 p.m. dual against the Cardinals at Ralph Wright Natatorium.

Saturday Kentucky Event Winners –

  • Sam Duncan: 3-Meter Diving (372.45)
  • Abby Devereaux: 1-Meter Diving (282.98)
  • Levi Sandidge: 1650 Freestyle (14:44.89)
  • Grace Frericks: 200 Backstroke (1:54.14)
  • Max Berg: 100 Freestyle (43.27)
  • Ryan Merani: 200 Butterfly (1:44.18)

New NCAA B-Standards –

  • Carson Hick: 1650 Freestyle (15:21.95)
  • Denise Phelan: 200 Breast (2:12.38)
  • Olivia Mendenhall: 200 Breast (2:13.42)
  • Grace Frericks: 100 Free (49.13)*

New NCAA Zone Cuts –

  • Gavin Hang: 3-meter diving (328.80)
  • Kristy Pfaff: 1-meter diving (274.35)

Top-10 Times in Program History –

  • 7th – Grace Frericks: 100 Freestyle (49.13)*

*Relay Split

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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