By Rebecca Noblett
ATHENS, Georgia. February 20. AFTER yesterday featured Florida’s men and Georgia’s women dominate the top of the podium in their respective events, this evening at the Southeastern Conference Championships proved to be a bit more even. However, some jaw-dropping times were posted, especially by Georgia’s Chase Kalisz in the 400 IM.
The Georgia women continue to lead on points after day three, finishing with 879 points. Florida (642) and Texas A&M (614) hold onto their spots in the top three, followed by Tennessee (439), Auburn (351), Arkansas (286), LSU (285), Mizzou (281), Alabama (248), Kentucky (236), South Carolina (150), and Vanderbilt (94).
On the men’s side, Florida took over the lead with 773.5 points. Auburn (721.5) drop to second and Georgia (588) rounds out the top three, followed by Texas A&M (382), Tennessee (374), Alabama (352), Mizzou (343), South Carolina (293), Kentucky (278), and LSU (255).
Georgia’s Kalisz broke Florida’s winning streak in men’s individual events with a commanding win in the 400 IM. Kalisz’ time of 3:36.89 was the fastest this season and broke NBAC teammate Conor Dwyer’s SEC meet record from 2011. Florida’s Dan Wallace clocked in at 3:38.96 for second, while teammate Conor Signorin finished third with a time of 3:43.34. All three earned NCAA A-cuts for their swims.
Kalisz’s effort is the third fastest 400-yard IM in the history of the sport, behind only Tyler Clary’s NCAA and American record of 3:35.98 from the 2009 NCAA Division I Championships and Michael Phelps’ 3:36.26 from the 2006 American Short Course Championships. Kalisz now has two of the top 10 times ever along with his 3:38.05 from 2013 NCAAs.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Marcin Cieslak posted a 45.69 to win the SEC title in the 100 fly. Georgia’s Doug Reynolds touched second in 45.90, just ahead of Tennessee’s Sam Rairden, who hit the wall in 45.92. All three times were under the NCAA A-cut mark.
The Gators took the final event of the night with Sebastian Rousseau picking up his second title of the meet in the 200 free. Rousseau clocked in at 1:33.23 for the victory and an NCAA A-cut. Teammate Mitch D’Arrigo touched second with a time of 1:33.95, while Alabama’s BJ Hornikel posted a 1:34.25 for third.
The Bulldog women finally conceded defeat for the first time here at SECs with a loss in the 400 IM, with Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel taking the title for the fourth year in a row. Beisel’s time of 3:59.26 was the best of the season so far. Georgia’s Melanie Margalis finished right behind Beisel with a time of 3:59.85, good for the second fastest time of the season. Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry rounded out the podium with her time of 4:03.90 good for an NCAA A-cut.
The Gators picked up another win in the 100 fly, with Ellese Zallewski clocking in at 51.58 for the title. Kentucky’s Christina Bechtel placed second with a time of 51.69, with Georgia’s Lauren Harrington taking third in 52.07.
Georgia’s divers had a good night on the 3M springboard, taking the top two spots. Laura Ryan placed first with a dominating 413.75 points. Teammate Ann-Perry Blank posted a 363.80 for second, while LSU’s Cassie Weil put up 357.45 points for third.
The Bulldogs closed out the night with another win courtesy of Shannon Vreeland in the 200 free. Vreeland’s time of 1:41.83 is the second fastest of the season and set a new SEC championship record. Lindsay Gendron of Tennessee touched second in 1:43.35, followed closely by Georgia’s Brittany MacLean with a 1:43.88. All three women earned NCAA A-cuts for their swims.