By Rebecca Noblett
ATHENS, Georgia. February 21. TEXAS A&M took first in all four women’s events on a night that saw four new SEC records and a new American and NCAA record in the 100 breast from A&M’s Breeja Larson.
Georgia’s women still lead on points with 1098, but Texas A&M made a good dent in their lead and now stand on 911 points going into the final day. Following them are Florida (799), Tennessee (579), Auburn (571), Alabama (393), LSU (393), Mizzou (378.5), Arkansas (373), Kentucky (313), South Carolina (185), and Vanderbilt (147.5).
The Florida men maintained their lead from day three and ended the night with 1097.5 points. Auburn (1017.5) and Georgia (806) round out the top three, followed by Mizzou (572), Tennessee (568), Alabama (506), Texas A&M (471), LSU (425), Kentucky (417), and South Carolina (416).
The night got off to a fast start with Cammile Adams of Texas A&M breaking her own SEC record in the 200 fly. Adams posted a 1:52.19 for the fastest time in the nation. Georgia’s Hali Flickinger improved on her A-cut from prelims with a 1:53.62 for second, while A&M’s Caroline McElhany clocked in at 1:54.87 for third.
The men’s 200 fly saw another SEC record fall, with Florida’s Sebastian Rousseau hitting the wall in 1:41.07 for his third victory of the meet. Rousseau’s time is the second fastest in the nation, only .06 behind Dylan Bosch of Michigan (1:41.01). Georgia’s Chase Kalisz finished second with a 1:41.74, just touching out Florida’s Marcin Cieslak (1:41.75) Those times put Kalisz and Cieslak at third and fourth fastest in the nation, respectively. Georgia’s Ty Stewart (1:42.93) and Auburn’s Arthur Mendes (1:43.01) also earned A-cuts for their swims.
In the 100 back, Paige Miller of Texas A&M posted only the second time this season under the 51-second mark, winning with a 50.91. Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga finished right behind her with a 51.00, and Florida’s Sinead Russell earned an A-cut with her third-place time of 51.69. Additionally, the Aggies have a bit of an amazing streak going, having won nine straight conference championships in the women’s 100-yard back, spanning Big 12 and SEC Championship competition. This streak included a load of titles by Canadian Olympian Julia Wilkinson.
On the men’s side, Kyle Darmody clocked in first at 45.66 for an NCAA A-cut and the second fastest time in the nation. Georgia’s Taylor Dale touched second with a time of 45.98, just ahead of Tennessee’s Sam Rairden (46.05).
Breeja Larson put the crowd on notice in prelims with an incredible time of 57.76, just off the American record of 57.43 that she set at last year’s SEC Championships. Larson did not disappoint in finals, going out in 27-flat to finish with a new American record of 57.28. Molly Hannis of Tennessee clocked in with a very respectable 58.22 for second. Alabama’s Kaylin Burchell touched third with an A-cut time of 59.17.
The men’s 100 breast saw the downfall of the oldest SEC record, set back in 1997 by Tennessee’s Jeremy Linn, the longstanding former American record before Mike Alexandrov and Kevin Cordes took it to new heights recently. Linn’s time of 51.86 was finally bested not once, but twice. Georgia’s Nic Fink posted a 51.25 to take the title, with Alabama’s Anton McKee touching in 51.70 for second. Florida’s Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez took third with an A-cut time of 52.43.
Texas A&M’s Ford McLiney took home his second diving title of the meet in men’s platform, posting a score of 415.20. Auburn’s Fraser McKean took second with a 413.25, while Kentucky’s Greg Ferrucci placed third with 409.90 points.
Texas A&M completed their sweep of the women’s events by taking first in the 400 medley relay. The team of Paige Miller (51.71), Breeja Larson (57.41), Caroline McElhany (52.40), and Lili Ibanez Lopez (47.51) clocked in at 3:29.03 for the title. Georgia’s team of Olivia Smoliga (51.81), Melanie Margalis (58.09), Lauren Harrington (53.07), and Shannon Vreeland (46.90) touched second with a time of 3:29.87. Tennessee’s Lauren Solernou (52.79), Molly Hannis (58.27), Lindsay Gendron (51.62), and Faith Johnson (47.51) took third in 3:30.19. Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel (52.38), Hilda Luthersdottir (59.72), Ellese Zalewski (51.61), and Natalie Hinds (47.36) also earned an A-cut for their time of 3:31.07.
The night ended in spectacular fashion, with the podium of the men’s 400 medley separated by just 0.27 seconds. Auburn’s team of Kyle Darmody (45.94), Michael Duderstadt (51.98), Arthur Mendes (45.52), and Marcelo Chierighini (41.94) touched first with a time of 3:05.38. Georgia’s Taylor Dale (46.12), Nic Fink (51.15), Doug Reynolds (45.50), and Michael Trice (42.78) hit the wall second in 3:05.55, just ahead of Florida’s Jack Blyzinskyj (46.70), Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez (52.46), Marcin Cieslak (45.14), and Brad de Borde (41.35), who finished third with a time of 3:05.65. Alabama’s Connor Oslin (46.47), Anton McKee (51.58), Brett Walsh (46.56), and BJ Hornikel (41.81) earned an A-cut for their time of 3:06.42, as did Tennessee’s Sean Lehane (46.52), Renato Prono (53.76), Sam Rairden (45.52), and Luke Percy (42.50) with their time of 3:08.20.