KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, November 19. THE Tennessee women's swimming team will be looking to make a jump in the standings over the final two days of the Tennessee Invitational this weekend.
The Lady Vols sit in fourth place with 229.5 points after Thursday's first day of competition at the three-day meet at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. Kentucky is in first with 326.5 points, followed by Virginia Tech (277) and Alabama (234).
Senior Michele King had UT's best performance, finishing runner-up in the 50y free (23.09) to Kentucky's Megan Pulskamp (22.79).
She also teamed with junior Morgan Farrell, sophomore Jenny Connolly and freshman Kelsey Floyd to place second in the 200y free relay in a season-best clocking of 1:34.16. Kentucky captured the relay in 1:32.07.
"We had some really good swims and some swims that seemed a little desperate," Lady Vol head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. "We have a lot more events to swim over the next two days and a lot more opportunities to learn. Our goal is to get better every meet. Our intensity was good today, but our focus needs to be better."
Connolly, Floyd and King also teamed with senior Jamie Saffer to finish third in the 400y medley relay (3:44.67). Alabama won the event in a pool record 3:41.68.
After earning her first NCAA ‘B' cut of the season by touching the wall in 4:51.95 during the prelims of the 500y free, sophomore Aleksa Akerfelds placed sixth in the event (4:53.03). Floyd was right behind in seventh (4:56.02). Virginia Tech's Erika Hajnal (4:47.14) edged teammate Kelly deMarrais (4:47.88) to capture the event.
Sophomore Tori Richmond swam a season-best time of 2:03.99 to finish fifth in the 200y IM, while classmate Connolly placed eighth (2:06.32). Reigning SEC Swimmer of the Week Augistina de Giovanni, of Alabama, won the 200y IM in 1:59.97.
Connolly also tied for sixth (23.78) in the "splash and dash."
The Tennessee Diving Invitational competed concurrently as a separate meet.
The 2009 SEC Diver of the Year Carrie Dragland, of Alabama, took captured first on the 1-meter board with a score of 302.40. Sophomore Gabbi Trudeau wasn't far behind, finishing second after registering a career-best 292.30 score.
Classmate Jodie McGroarty placed third with a season-best score of 273.55. Both Lady Vol performances qualify the pair for the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships.
"It was really proud of all of our divers tonight," UT head diving coach Dave Parrington said. "Gabbi really stepped up tonight. Our goal is to score 300, and she is ahead of schedule. There were even some points left on the board by her which is great. Jodie is catching up and hitting her stride after battling injury early in the season."
Prelims on Friday begin at 10 a.m. with finals at 6 p.m. The Tennessee Invitational will wrap up on Saturday with prelims at 9 a.m. and a 3 p.m. finals session at 3 p.m.
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