By Rebecca Noblett
ATHENS, Georgia, February 18. THE reigning Southeastern Conference champion Georgia women jumped off to a great start on their first night of hosting the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships, winning all three events on the night. On the men’s side, Florida took home first in both relays.
Bulldog senior Ann-Perry Blank opened the night with a win in 1M diving, scoring 325.50. Blank’s win marks the first time a Georgia diver has won the 1M SEC title. Mizzou sophomore Lauren Reedy took second place with a score of 322.50, while Georgia’s Laura Ryan placed third with a score of 320.50.
Georgia set a school record in the 200 medley relay with the team of Olivia Smoliga (23.78), Melanie Margalis (26.72), Lauren Harrington (23.51), and Chantel Van Landeghem (21.51) clocking in at 1:35.52 for the title. Tennessee touched second, with the team of Lauren Solernou (24.53), Molly Hannis (26.45), Harper Bruens (23.48), and Faith Johnson (21.35) hitting the wall in 1:35.81. Florida took third, with Sinead Russell (24.62), Hilda Luthersdottir (27), Ellese Zalewski (22.92), and Natalie Hinds (21.66) touching in 1:36.20. Four other teams made A-cuts: Texas A&M (1:36.40), Alabama (1:37.24), LSU (1:37.34), and Mizzou (1:37.56).
The Bulldogs doubled up on relay titles in the 800 free relay, with Shannon Vreeland (1:42.67), Amber McDermott (1:44.27), Melanie Margalis (1:43.01), and Brittany MacLean (1:43.09) taking first with a dominating time of 6:53.04. Texas A&M hit the wall second, with the team of Lili Ibanez Lopez (1:44.20), Meredith Oliver (1:45.09), Kelli Benjamin (1:46.09), and Sarah Henry (1:43.42) touching in 6:58.80. Florida placed third once again, with the team of Ellese Zalewski (1:45.40), Elizabeth Beisel (1:42.81), Lindsey McKnight (1:46.88), and Sinead Russell (1:44.96) clocking in at 7:00.05. Tennessee’s fourth place time of 7:03.70 was good for an A-cut for the Volunteers.
On the men’s side, Florida kicked their championship meet off with a close win in the 200 medley relay. The team of Christian-Paul Homer (21.79), Eduardo Solache-Gomez (23.93), Marcin Cieslak (20.29), and Bradley de Borde (18.52) clocked in at 1:24.53 for the title, just ahead of Georgia. The Bulldogs’ team of Taylor Dale (21.54), Nic Fink (23.37), Doug Reynolds (20.80), and Michael Trice (19.02) hit the wall with a time of 1:24.73. Alabama and Tennessee tied for third- the Crimson Tide’s Connor Oslin (21.49), Anton McKee (23.38), Brett Walsh (20.82), and Vlad Caciuc (19.15) and the Volunteers’ Sam Rairden (21.22), Renato Prono (23.60), Oystein Hetland (20.85), and Luke Percy (19.17) both posted times of 1:24.84. Auburn (1:24.90), Kentucky (1:25.43), and Mizzou (1:25.55) all earned A-cuts for their swims.
Texas A&M took home their first men’s SEC diving title in the 3M, with sophomore Ford McLiney posting a score of 424.95. Tennessee’s Mauricio Robles took second with a score of 418.10, and Mizzou’s David Bonuchi came in third with a score of 416.45.
In the final event of the night, the Gators posted a new SEC record with their win. The team of Corey Main (1:34.06), Sebastian Rousseau (1:31.81), Marcin Cieslak (1:34.34), and Dan Wallace (1:32.82) clocked in at 6:13.03 for the title. Auburn came in second, with the team of James Disney-May (1:34.69), Zane Grothe (1:34.30), Kyle Darmody (1:33.71), and Arthur Mendes (1:34.66) touching in 6:17.36. Tennessee took third, with Sam Rairden (1:34.91), Gustav Aberg Ledjstrom (1:35.43), Tristan Slater (1:35.64), and Sean Lehane (1:33.73) hitting the wall in 6:19.71. Georgia (6:20.26), South Carolina (6:20.59), and Texas A&M (6:21.20) all made A-cuts with their swims.
Through Event 6, Auburn’s men lead with 192 points over Texas A&M (142) and Florida (139). On the women’s side, Georgia leads with 187 points over Tennessee (153) and Florida (139).