By Rebecca Noblett
ATHENS, Georgia, February 22. THE Georgia women and Florida men both repeated as champions as the 2014 Southeastern Conference Championship meet came to a close in Athens.
The Georgia women won their fifth consecutive SEC championship and ended the meet with 1589 points. Texas A&M (1204) and Florida (1130) rounded out the top three, followed by Auburn (804), Tennessee (780), Arkansas (572), LSU (548), Alabama (526), Mizzou (475.5), Kentucky (426), South Carolina (260), and Vanderbilt (186.5).
Florida’s men captured back-to-back SEC championships and ended the meet with 1440 points. Auburn (1280.5) and Georgia (1095) rounded out the top three, followed by Alabama (798), Mizzou (742.5), Tennessee (713), Texas A&M (609), Kentucky (532), LSU (531), and South Carolina (491).
Georgia’s Brittany MacLean kicked off the final night of competition by taking down the SEC record on her way to the title in the mile, posting a 15:40.77 for the fastest time of the season. Her Bulldog teammate Amber McDermott clocked in at 15:50.45 for second, while Sarah Henry of Texas A&M touched in 15:52.74 to round out the podium. Florida’s Danielle Valley earned an NCAA A-cut for her fourth-place time of 15:53.94.
The men’s mile also saw the fastest time of the season. Florida’s Arthur Frayler clocked in at 14:38.06 to take home the title. His teammate Mitch D’Arrigo placed second, touching in 14:43.15, with Georgia’s Andrew Gemmell posting a 14:45.77 for third. Georgia’s Matias Koski earned an A-cut with a 14:45.91.
Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga, the reigning Swimming World High School Swimmer of the Year, won her second individual title of the meet, posting a 47.51 for the victory and the fifth-fastest time in the nation. Shannon Vreeland of Georgia took second with a 47.64, with Florida’s Natalie Hinds placing third with a time of 47.71. Georgia’s Maddie Locus also earned an A-cut with her fourth-place time of 47.90.
Marcelo Chierighini took the title in the men’s 100 free, clocking in at 42.10 for the fastest time of the season. Tennessee’s Luke Percy earned an A-cut for his second-place time of 42.53, and Auburn’s Kyle Darmody touched third in 42.86.
Elizabeth Beisel of Florida picked up her second title of the meet and an NCAA A-cut in the 200 back with her winning time of 1:50.62. Florida’s Sinead Russell also earned an A-cut with her second-place time of 1:51.84, with Georgia’s Rachel Zilinskas rounding out the podium with a 1:52.74.
Tennessee’s Sean Lehane put up the best time in the nation in prelims of the 200 back, and he improved on that in finals, winning with a 1:39.64. Florida’s Corey Main placed second with an NCAA A-cut time of 1:40.99, while Georgia’s Ty Stewart clocked in at 1:41.81 for third.
Breeja Larson of Texas A&M wasn’t able to match the SEC record of 2:04.92 she posted in prelims, but she still won the 200 breast by over a minute, finishing in 2:05.19. Georgia’s Melanie Margalis hit the wall in 2:06.23 for second, followed by teammate Annie Zhu (2:07.01). Tennessee’s Molly Hannis (2:07.14), A&M’s Ashley McGregor (2:07.38), and Alabama’s Bridget Blood (2:08.13) all earned A-cuts for their swims.
The men’s 200 breast saw two swimmers break the SEC record set by Neil Versfeld back in 2009. Alabama’s Anton McKee touched first with a time of 1:51.59 for the title, and Georgia’s Nic Fink clocked in at 1:51.95 for second. Florida’s Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez placed third with an NCAA A-cut time of 1:52.77.
In the final diving event of the meet, Tennessee’s Victoria Lamp broke the SEC record in women’s platform diving with a winning score of 356.10 points. Georgia’s Laura Ryan scored 339.65 points for second, and LSU’s Cassie Weil placed third with 310.75 points. Ryan was awarded the SEC Diver of the Meet award for her three podium finishes at the meet.
The Georgia women took first in every freestyle event at the meet, and the 400 freestyle relay was no exception. Shannon Vreeland (47.70), Maddie Locus (47.68), Chantal VanLandeghem (48.14), and Olivia Smoliga (47.77) clocked in at 3:11.29 for the title. Tennessee’s team of Faith Johnson (48.66), Harper Bruens (48.49), Kate McNeilis (47.93), and Lindsay Gendron (47.68) posted a 3:12.76 for second. The Florida relay of Sinead Russell (48.93), Natalie Hinds (46.92), Ashlee Linn (49.19), and Elizabeth Beisel (49.07) placed third with a time of 3:14.11.
Auburn’s men won the final relay of the meet, with Marcelo Chierighini breaking the SEC record in the 100 free with his leading split of 41.46. Chierghini (41.46), James Disney-May (42.03), Arthur Mendes (42.19), and Kyle Darmody (41.81) posted a 2:47.49 for first place. Florida’s team of Sebastian Rousseau (43.29), Bradley deBorde (42.14), Corey Main (42.29), and Marcin Cieslak (42.79) clocked in at 2:50.51 for second, just ahead of Alabama’s team of Kristian Gkolomeev (42.78), BJ Hornikel (42.21), Vlad Caciuc (43.06), and Brett Walsh (42.73), who finished third with a time of 2:50.78.
In the post-meet awards ceremony, Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel and Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga shared the Commissioner’s Trophy for earning the most points, with 92 each. A&M’s Breeja Larson won the Swimmer of the Meet award for her record-breaking breaststroke performances. For the men, Florida’s Sebastian Rousseau won both the Swimmer of the Meet award and the Commissioner’s Trophy for his three individual titles.