BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, November 4. BEFORE tomorrow's clash between top ranked LSU and No. 2 Alabama on the football gridiron, the LSU men's (1-3, 1-2 SEC) and women's (2-2, 1-1 SEC) swimming and diving team took care of business and earned their first SEC victories of the season against SEC rival Alabama on Friday at the LSU Natatorium.
"I think we set the football up for a good start up," Diving Coach Doug Shaffer said. "Lets keep it going all weekend."
Energy was flowing in the LSU Natatorium as the men's side squeaked out the Crimson Tide (2-1,1-0 SEC) 151-149 in a hotly contested meet that was not decided until the final event, the 400 freestyle relay.
"We wanted one and we talked to them all week about it," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "I looked at their results and played with numbers. When I scored the meet out with their depth and numbers, I had Alabama winning 151-149 early in the week. We sat down with the team on Wednesday and talked about their strengths and where we needed to capitalize. Those fourth and fifth place swings that added one or two points to them did it."
Needing only six points to win the meet, which could have been achieved through a first place finish that would earn 11 points or a second and third place finish that would earn six points, the coaches elected to make the risk of spreading their lineup.
"In hindsight we got pretty lucky," Geyer said. "Going into the event we were at 145 points and we knew that we needed six points to seal up the win on the men's side with 151 points. Any time you are ahead you should go for the strongest relay up front and let the opponent split up and try to do something with their lineup. It worked out well with out depth to spread out to get that second and third."
The Lady Tigers defeated Alabama (2-2, 0-1 SEC) by a margin of 175.5-124.5 behind strong efforts in individual and relay competition.
Junior swimmer Amanda Kendall's first collegiate meet of the season after excelling in the Pan American Games was a welcome addition for LSU. She earned victories in the 100 free (49.18) and the 200 free (1:47.56) and was part of the first place 200 medley relay (1:47.72) and the 400 free relay (3:24.00). In total, Kendall had her hand in 40 points on the day.
"For the women I think it was good to finally have the team together," Geyer said. "Having Amanda Kendall back in the lineup, she doesn't necessarily define our team, but to put our athletes in their normal events that they are racing is key for that women's team. There were some huge swims across the board on the women's side. It was great to have the whole team together and to put a solid lineup together."
Junior swimmer Sara Haley continued her strong 2011-12 campaign with a pair of individual victories in the 500 free (4:54.88) and 200 butterfly (1:57.11). She also swam the second leg of the 400 free relay. Her marks were all season bests for the program as she continues to drop time.
The women's diving duo of junior Elle Schmidt (277.73) and freshman Alex Bettridge (258.60) swept the diving events with victories in the three meter and one meter respectively. Bettridge earned her first SEC victory in dual-meet competition.
"I saw a little bit of inconsistency, but I was real happy that I saw all of the divers competing," Shaffer said. "If we missed, we missed big. We saw some things where dives were preformed at a different level. We may not always have been perfectly successful, but we want to see that stuff now."
Junior Jana Ruimerman dropped eight seconds off of her first place swim in the 1000 freestyle (10:12.67) and was narrowly out touched in the 200 backstroke (2:00.24) in a second place swim.
On the men's side, junior swimmer Andrei Tuomola and sophomore swimmer Michael Saco excelled in the sprint free events. Tuomola produced a gold performance in the 50 free (20.24) and a silver performance in the 100 free (44.90). Saco was close behind Tuomola in the 50 free (20.54) and the 100 free (45.77). Both scores for each swimmer were the lowest for the year.
Freshman Frank Greeff won a key victory in the 200 fly (1:48.88) and dropped almost an entire second from his mark against Auburn.
On the diving well, the team's depth showed as sophomore Kevin Leong cranked out the highest three-meter score (374.25) for the Tigers thus far in a second place finish, topping senior Matt Vieke's 371.48 against Auburn.
Alabama's freshman swimmer Kaylin Burchell set the LSU Natatorium pool record in the 200 breaststroke with a mark of 2:12.92.
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