The SEC Swimming Championships began on Valentine’s Day in College Station, Texas and the Kentucky Wildcats have gotten off to a strong start.
The men ended the first day of competition in third place behind a bronze medal performance on the 3-meter springboard by junior diver Seb Masterton. His bronze was Kentucky’s first medal of the meet. That wasn’t the only good news of the day for the Cats. The men’s 800-yard freestyle relay team set a new school record with a time of 6:23.17, good enough for seventh place overall. The women also found success in the 800 relay as well, posting the first NCAA ‘A’ cut time of the meet with a time of 7:00.21. That relay team finished fourth overall and the women ended day one in eighth place.
Head coach Lars Jorgensen had this to say of the Wildcats’ start to the meet:
“It was a great day for the Cats getting started. The women had one ‘A’ cut, which is our goal. The men got a brand new school record which I’m really proud of, but really the highlight of today was having two divers in the men’s 3-meter final. Both Seb and Kevin (Frebel) were awesome and Seb really battled back. That guy’s got a lot of heart and character. It’s a long meet, but so far we’re off to a good start and looking forward to being really good tomorrow morning.”
Day two began in record setting fashion with sophomore Glen Brown breaking his own school record in the 200-yard individual medley. His time of 1:44.16 set the new mark in prelims and was good enough to get him into the championship final, where he placed eighth. That was Brown’s first championship final. Several other men scored in finals as well. Sophomore Connor Blandford finished 14th in the 200 IM, freshman Hank Siefert also made his first championship final in the 500-yard freestyle finishing 14th, and sophomore Peter Wetzler finished 12th in the 50-yard freestyle.
The women also had a record setting day two. Junior Geena Freriks won gold in the 500 freestyle becoming just the third Kentucky swimmer ever to win multiple SEC titles. Freriks also won the 200 freestyle in last year’s meet. Freriks is just the second UK swimmer to win the event and she did so by lowering her own school record with a time of 4:37.20. Behind Freriks’ victory, four other Wildcats scored in the event.
Also finishing on the podium for the women on day two was sophomore star Asia Seidt. Seidt lowered her own school record to 1:53.04, good enough for the silver medal in the event.
Yesterday was the third day of competition. It was a tough day for the Cats, but several swimmers swam well and scored. In the men’s 400 IM, sophomores Brown and Blandford finished 20th and 21st overall. Junior David Dingess also scored in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing 19th with a time of :47.20, the fifth fastest time in team history. The men’s side finished competition with three swimmers finishing 19th, 21st and 22nd in the 200-yard freestyle.
The women were led on day three by junior Kathryn Painter. Painter finished ninth overall in the 400 IM and lowered her own school record in the process, posting a time of 4:06.82. Freshman Lauren Edelman also scored in the event, finishing 14th with an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 4:11.44. Freriks was unable to defend her 200 freestyle, finishing 10th overall in a time of 1:45.52. Sophomore Ali Galyer finished just behind in 13th with a 1:46.27.
Coach Jorgensen praised his team’s effort through the first three days:
“It was a good day for the Cats. The night was highlighted by Kathryn Painter who had a really nice swim in the 400 IM. It’s going to be a time that gets invited to NCAAs, so couldn’t be more proud of her in coming back and swimming awesome tonight. Across the board we had a really good day. I think our best days are yet to come, so we’re really excited about the next two days and trying to finish the best we can with as many points as possible.”
After three days, the Wildcats have set five new school records and won three medals. The women sit in sixth place with 350 points and the men are in ninth with 326 points. The SEC is a tough swimming conference and these Wildcats are fighting hard and finding success. The meet ends on Sunday. Be sure to check back here for final updates and results. Go Cats!