GAINESVILLE, Florida, January 30. DESPITE a school-record performance from junior Alex Barsanti and three first-place finishes from classmate Michele King, the seventh-ranked Tennessee women’s swimming and diving team fell to fifth-ranked Florida, 174-125, on Friday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
“Florida swam really well and caught us off guard early on,” Lady Vol head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. “We had some excellent swims, but Florida is just a great team. I’m pleased with how we performed during the middle of the meet after getting down early.”
The Gators won the first four events, led by Sarah Peterson’s NCAA ‘A’ cut in the 100y back (52.81).
Barsanti won the 200y breast in a UT record and NCAA ‘B’ performance of 2:11.14, breaking the old record of 2:11.87 set by Tiffany Clay at the 2007 NCAA Championships. This was the second consecutive meet where a Tennessee record was broken as junior Jamie Saffer set the 100y breast mark (59.42) against Georgia last Saturday.
Saffer and Barsanti finished 1-2 in the 100y breast, both with ‘B’ cut performances. Barsanti’s time of 1:01.71 was also a career-best, while Saffer won the race in 1:00.03.
King swam a new season-best of 22.83 en route to capturing first in the 50y free. She also won the 100y free in 49.88 and was on the victorious 400y free relay that finished with an NCAA ‘B’ cut in a season-best 3:19.60. Joining her on the relay were senior Katie Gehring, sophomore Morgan Farrell and freshman Jenny Connolly.
“Alex Barsanti and Michele King both had outstanding days,” Kredich said. “Alex set a school record and Michele is winning races at the end which is great for her confidence heading into SECs and NCAAs.”
King was also on the second-place 200y medley relay which was runner-up in 1:40.00, also an NCAA ‘B’ cut. Connolly, Saffer and sophomore Tricia Weaner joined King on the relay.
Weaner had an outstanding career-best swim of 1:56.13 to win the 200y back.
Jodie McGroarty won the 3-meter in a season-best score of 312.15. The freshman also took second in the 1-meter with a score of 277.58, Classmate Gabrielle Trudeau was third on the 1-meter with a season-best and NCAA zone qualifying score of 265.28.
“I’m very pleased with Jodie’s performance,” UT head diving coach Dave Parrington said. “Florida is a tough place to diver and they have some excellent athletes. Jodie really stepped up to the challenge and had a career day. I’m also pleased with Gabbie and Staley. They each bounced back from last week.”
Connolly, Weaner and Farrell placed 3-4-5 in the 100y back and all finished with NCAA ‘B’ cuts.
Senior Katie Gehring was second in 100y free in 50.48.
In the 100y fly, Connolly (54.43) and Saffer (54.55) placed 3-4. Saffer also took third in the 200y IM.
Freshman Caitlin Perks swam a season-best 1:48.69 to finish fourth in the 200y free.
The Lady Vols will return to action Feb. 18-21 at the SEC Championships in Auburn, Ala.
Special thanks to Tennessee for contributing this report.