KNOXVILLE, Tennesse, January 20. THE Sixteenth-ranked Tennessee fought hard with No. 6 Georgia this afternoon at the UT Student Aquatic Center in Knoxville, but eventually dropped the decision, 141-102. The Lady Vols are now 4-3 in dual-meet action, 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Leading the way for UT was junior Lauren LeRoy who swept the one- and three-meter diving events for the third time this season. The six seniors were also honored in a pre-meet ceremony in the Lady Vols' last home meet of the season.
"I think that you can look at every meet this season, and find something that we were able to improve upon," UT Head Swimming Coach Matt Kredich said. "That reflects the drive of our senior class and the decisions that each one of them made to transform this program into one of the conference's elite teams.
"Each and every one of our six seniors played a different role in accomplishing that goal," Kredich said. "You can see that in the way Brittany Fulmer finished with a career best in the one-meter, as well as the way that Ashley Yeager competed. She had a really solid 1,000y and one of her best 200 backstrokes. Tiffany Clay and Megan Tomes were just outstanding on the relay and really battled in their individual events. Liz Christy really performed well in the relay competitions as well."
The meet started with the one-meter diving at 11:45 am. Tennessee secured the top three spots with LeRoy taking her eighth title this season after tallying a career-high 310.35 points. Senior Brittany Fulmer used the last home meet of her career to demolish her season-best in the one-meter by almost 45 points (273.07). Junior Vicky Linnell also had a career-best, as she placed third with a score of 270.07
The first swimming event of the day was the 400y medley relay. Tennessee's squad of Megan Tomes, Tiffany Clay, Christine Magnuson and Michele King finished nearly five seconds ahead of second-place Georgia to take the title in 3:42.57. The time marks the first NCAA provisional cut for UT in that event and ranks sixth on the all-time Lady Vol list. The foursome of Danyelle Vincent, Sarah McCall, Ashley Knapik and Elizabeth Christy was fourth (3:55.35), while Maria Jugan, Jamie Saffer, Betsy Lange and Laura Fehrman finished sixth in 3:59.03.
The 1000y freestyle saw senior Misty Cain, freshman Laura Tomes and senior Ashley Yeager place fourth, fifth and sixth in 10:16.48, 10:16.94 and 10:36.29. Cain claimed the top spot on the season-best list by over three seconds.
Olympic medalist Kara Lynn Joyce of Georgia took the 200y free title in 1:48.46, but it was Magnuson who was the top Lady Vol scorer. The Tinley Park, Ill., product finished in third by stopping the clock at 1:50.01 for her fourth NCAA "B" time in the event. Sophomore Carly Mathes was fifth in 1:51.18 while classmate Brittany Nauta earned sixth place with a clocking of 1:52.72.
Freshman King was victorious in the 50y free for the second time this season and registered an NCAA provisional time of 23.30. The York, Pa., native has placed in the top three every time she has swum the 50y free this year. Sophomore Kate Gehring recorded a season-high 24.31 for fourth place, Ashley Quinn was fifth (24.38) and Fehrman finished sixth in 24.58.
Megan Tomes' first individual win of the day came in the 200y IM . Tomes, who owns the Lady Vol record in the 200y IM, recorded her second NCAA "B" qualifying time with a 2:02.51 readout. Clay also inched her way into the top-three as she was .08 seconds faster than a fourth-place Georgia swimmer. McCall and Elizabeth Christy placed sixth and seventh, respectively.
Magnuson pulled ahead in the final lap of the 200y fly to convincingly take top honors with an NCAA provisional time of 2:01.56. . The win put UT ahead 68-63 through the first six events. Freshmen Jamie Saffer and Ashley Knapik were fifth and sixth with times of 2:06.76 and 2:07.10, respectively, while sophomore Betsy Lange finished eighth with a time of 2:11.95.
Joyce picked up her second win of the afternoon in the 100y freestyle. Mathes led the Lady Vol swimmers with a fourth-place 51.83. She was followed in order by Nauta, Fehrman and Quinn.
French native Aleksandra Putra scored nine points for Georgia in the 200y backstroke with a time of 1:58.50. Megan Tomes was the top point-scorer for the Orange and White with a third-place 2:02.18. Vincent, Yeager and Jugan secured the sixth through eighth spots.
Cain, Laura Tomes and Knapik finished fourth through sixth, respectively, in the 500y freestyle. Cain led the three with a time of 5:04.49. Georgia's Claire Maust took the title in 4:49.41.
The divers were up next in event 22, diving from three meters. Once again, Leroy topped the field with a score of 319.51, Linnell was second with 303.68. Both were substantially above the NCAA zone qualifying mark. Fulmer scored a season-high 253.50 for fourth place while Staley McCartney tallied 223.51.
"Lauren LeRoy continued what she has been doing all year long," UT Head Diving Coach Dave Parrington said. "She came in to our final home meet of the year with extra focus against a very good conference rival and performed extremely well. We had expectations to do well in the diving to help the team and the rest of the divers stepped up and met that challenge."
The 200y breast event saw Clay secure a second-place readout of 2:18.06. Sarah McCall finished with the fifth fastest time (2:24.91), while freshmen Curran and Saffer were sixth (2:25.32) and seventh (2:27.46), respectively.
With one relay win under their belts already, the Lady Vol foursome of Mathes, Nauta, Gehring and King was just .18 seconds behind Georgia's "A" team and one-one hundredth of a second away from the NCAA "B" cut to take second. Mathes' leadoff 23.89 was a new career-best for the sophomore.
"We gave Georgia a pretty good shot today," Kredich said. "Unfortunately, we fell short in some areas that we could have been better in, but they are a great team and deserve some credit too. We were a little tentative in some areas and Georgia is too good to let us get away with that."
Tennessee will return to the water on Jan. 26 to take on the No. 9 Florida Gators in Gainesville, Fla.