NASHVILLE, Tennessee, February 16. AN electrifying crowd greeted the swimmers for day two of the 2007 Sun Belt Conference swimming and diving championships and it was worth the price of admission.
Western Kentucky University and Florida Atlantic continued to hold onto the lead after taking home first place finishes in the 200 medley relays. FAU's time of 1:43.37 was a new Sun Belt Conference record just off the NCAA B standard time.
In the women's 400 individual medley, the Lady Toppers depth was key as they picked up much needed points placing four swimmers in the top eight to narrow FAU's lead. Denver's Olivia Dean won the race with a time of 4:23.84, which is also a season best for Dean.
In the women's 100 butterfly, Florida International's Zita Zalai broke her own SBC Championship record (56.08) with a time of 55.84 to take home the win for the Golden Panthers. Zalai capped a stellar career with her fourth consecutive conference title in this race.
Victor Serra continued to pace the Missouri State Bears as he broke yet another SBC record, this time the 100 butterfly championship record (48.92). The previous 100 butterfly record holder, Stephan Ackermann (Southern Illinois), placed second with a time of 49.18.
The next event witnessed a sweep across the board as FAU and SIU claimed the top three spots in the women's and men's 200 freestyle races.
FAU's sweep dealt WKU a bit of a blow as they jumped out to a 134 point lead after 20 events. The Salukis sweep put them into the thick of things as they try to unseat the Hilltoppers.
Through 20 events SIU was in third place with 325.5 points.
Shortly after the men's 200 freestyle, FAU's Ellie Weberg excited the crowd with a blazing 1:01.49 in the 100 breaststroke. Weberg's time broke her own SBC record (1:01.85) and was also the competition's first NCAA A standard time.
The records continued to fall as Denver's Kelsey Totura took home the 100 backstroke (1:55.32) breaking the SBC record and securing an NCAA B time, while Francis Gilmore of WKU swam 49.68 breaking the men's 100 backstroke SBC record.
Gilmore's win was the Hilltoppers first of the evening, however, their depth kept them in front all evening.
Concluding the finals of day two were the men's and women's 800 freestyle relay. DU's quartet (Totura, Dean, Harmony Zeller, and Caitlin Summers) swam 7:31.57 to take the women's crown, while SIU's team of Antonio Santoro, Dennis Hedo, Gareth McGee and Waked Vinicius set a new SBC record with a time of 6:37.16. The time was also an NCAA B cut time.
Earlier in the day the women's 3-meter dive competition was held at nearby Tennessee State University. FIU's Lindsay Lowell won the event with 270.20 points.
WKU's Emily Waits, eighth in the preliminaries, battled back in the finals to finish second with 238.05 points.
As we enter the final day of competition FAU's women lead WKU by only 73 points (575.5 – 502.5). On the men's side only 68.5 points separate the top three teams; WKU (476 points), Denver (427 points) and SIU (407.5 points).