KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, October 16. THE Tennessee women's swimming and diving team opened the 2008-09 season with a pair victories over Louisville and the University of the Cumberlands on Thursday at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center.
A second half surge propelled the Lady Vols to a 168-132 victory over Louisville in the afternoon, while UT defeated the Cumberlands 101-27 in the morning.
The Cardinals held a nine-point advantage, 70-61, after seven events thanks to wins by Amanda Henleben (1000y free, 10:10.42), Therese Bergstorm (100y breast, 1:04.38), Nicole Landisch (50y free, 23.65) and their 200y medley relay. UT, however, tied the meet 75-75 when freshman Gabrielle Trudeau and sophomore Jill Pierce placed 1-2 in 1-meter diving and captured first in five of the last six swimming events to grab the victory.
"We had a lot of people step up halfway through the meet," Lady Vol head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. "I think we learned a lot today. We were not really focused and not tough in the first half of the meet. Diving gave us a boost, though, and we came out a lot more intense after the break. Louisville was really tough today."
Freshman Jenny Connolly won the 200y back (1:59.63) and the 100y fly (54.63) after the diving break, while Aleksa Akerfelds took first in 500y free (4:53.38) and Samara Gelb touched first in the 200y IM (2:05.10). Additionally, the 400y free relay team of seniors Carly Mathes and Brittany Nauta and freshmen Abbie Alton and Caitlin Perks capped the meet with a 3:25.06 victory.
"I'm excited about our freshman," Kredich said. "They all swam well today. Jenny (Connolly) was great and Samara (Gelb) had a really good day. Also, Abbie (Alton) and Caitlin (Perks) swam great on the 400 relay."
Connolly's time in the 100y fly ties her with two-time Olympian Fabiola Molina as the fifth-fastest Lady Vol ever in the event. The West Lafayette, Ind., native also won the 100y back in an NCAA "B" qualifying time of 54.46.
Gelb was barely edged by Louisville's Bergstorm in both breast events, 1:04.38 to 1:04.56 in the 100 and 2:18.62 to 2:18.69 in the 200.
In addition to her 500y free win, Akerfelds won the 200y free in 1:51.33 and took second in the 200y IM in a career-best 2:05.21.
"Aleksa was a really great leader today," Kredich said. "Not only with her performances in the pool, but also being a leader out of the pool."
UT's only other victory came from junior Jamie Saffer, who captured the 200y fly in 2:02.49.
Kredich was also impressed by senior Maria Jugan, who held off two Louisville opponents to finish fifth in the 200y back (2:10.88).
"Maria (Jugan) had a really good day all together," Kredich said. "Her performance in the 200y back was a big lift for us."
Trudeau won the 1-meter board with a score of 263.18, which is an NCAA Zone cut, while Pierce was second with a career-best score of 253.43. In addition Trudeau placed second with a score of 263.78 in the 3-meter board.
"I was pleased with our competitiveness on the 1-meter," Tennessee head diving coach Dave Parrington said. "Gabby competed very well. Jill had her lifetime best dive on the 1-meter and stepped up to take second. Jill's performance was a highlight of the day for me. In the 3-meter, out marks weren't as good, but I definitely saw some positive things today."
Against the Cumberlands in the morning, the Lady Vols won each event in their first official dual meet at the brand new, state-of-the-art AJIAC.
The 200y medley relay team of Jugan, Connolly, junior Alex Barsanti and Atlantis Wilkins began the meet with a win in 1:46.93.
Akerfelds and Connolly went 1-2 in the 200y free, while Gelb led a 1-2-3 finish in the 100y IM.
Seniors Sarah McCall (50y breast), Katie Gehring (50y fly) and Nauta (50y back) also won events.
Quinn, Wilkins, McCall and Connolly closed the meet with a winning performance of 1:36.23 in the 200y free relay.