2020 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships Day Two Prelims Live: Higgins Cruises to Top Seed in 500, Casas Posts Smooth 1:40 200 IM

walker-higgins-
Georgia's Walker Higgins is the top seed in the 500. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

SEC Swimming and Diving Championships

Auburn, Alabama 2020

The first full prelims session got underway on Wednesday morning at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Alabama with the heats of the 500, 200 IM, and 50 freestyle. Georgia’s Walker Higgins (500 free) and Zoie Hartman (200 IM) put up the top times in their respective events as they should chase their first ever SEC titles in those events.

The big headliners of the meet: Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas and Tennessee’s Erika Brown, will be record chasing tonight in the finals of the 200 IM and 50 free, putting up stellar swims in the morning in those events.

Auburn’s Emily Hetzer and Alabama’s Zane Waddell are also the top seeds for tonight in the 500 and 50 free respectively.

Full ups-mids-downs report is below. The teams are in order of the current team scores after last night.

SEC Swimming and Diving Championships Details

Ups-Mids-Downs (Women)

  1. Florida, 0, 8, 5
  2. Texas A&M, 3, 1, 3
  3. Tennessee, 5, 2, 1
  4. Kentucky, 3, 3, 2
  5. Auburn, 4, 3, 2
  6. LSU, 0, 0, 2
  7. Georgia, 4, 2, 3
  8. South Carolina, 0, 1, 2
  9. Alabama, 2, 2, 2
  10. Missouri, 1, 2, 1
  11. Arkansas, 2, 0, 1
  12. Vanderbilt, 0, 0, 0

Team Scores (Men)

  1. Texas A&M, 3, 4, 1
  2. Tennessee, 0, 3, 4
  3. Kentucky, 2, 1, 5
  4. Auburn, 1, 4, 3
  5. Florida, 5, 3, 2
  6. Missouri, 2, 1, 1
  7. LSU, 1, 0, 1
  8. South Carolina, 1, 1, 0
  9. Alabama, 5, 2, 5
  10. Georgia, 4, 5, 2

Women’s 500 Free

Auburn’s Emily Hetzer had a strong last 150 in her 500 heat as she will be the top seed at 4:38.56 for tonight’s finals. Hetzer is seeded ahead of Tennessee junior Amanda Nunan, who had a huge drop from her seed with a 4:38.90. Tennessee is searching for its first SEC team title in school history and Nunan provided a much needed spark for the Vols this morning.

Alabama’s Alexis Preski (4:39.94) was the third and final swimmer under 4:40 as she is seeded third. The favorites coming into this were Arkansas’ Peyton Palsha (4:40.01) and Georgia’s Courtney Harnish (4:40.08) and they are seeded fourth and fifth and will have a good shot to win tonight.

Alabama’s Kensey McMahon (4:40.20), Kentucky’s Ali Galyer (4:41.14) and Texas A&M’s Karling Hemstreet (4:41.16) also qualified for the final with second seed Leah Braswell of Florida missing the final at 4:42.09 for ninth.

 Event 9  Women 500 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
         4:35.76  A
         4:47.20  B
    Name           Year School               Seed    Prelims              
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Hetzer, Emily    SO Auburn            4:38.87    4:38.56 qB     
    r:+0.73  25.94        54.12 (28.18)
        1:22.65 (28.53)     1:51.17 (28.52)
        2:19.40 (28.23)     2:47.59 (28.19)
        3:15.61 (28.02)     3:43.51 (27.90)
        4:11.40 (27.89)     4:38.56 (27.16)
  2 Nunan, Amanda J  JR Tennessee         4:44.67    4:38.90 qB     
    r:+0.80  26.24        53.93 (27.69)
        1:21.87 (27.94)     1:50.18 (28.31)
        2:18.33 (28.15)     2:46.54 (28.21)
        3:14.68 (28.14)     3:43.00 (28.32)
        4:11.30 (28.30)     4:38.90 (27.60)
  3 Preski, Alexis   SR Alabama           4:40.01    4:39.94 qB     
    r:+0.70  26.34        54.23 (27.89)
        1:22.43 (28.20)     1:50.62 (28.19)
        2:18.74 (28.12)     2:47.08 (28.34)
        3:15.71 (28.63)     3:43.99 (28.28)
        4:12.48 (28.49)     4:39.94 (27.46)
  4 Palsha, Peyton   JR Arkansas          4:38.86    4:40.01 qB     
    r:+0.70  25.98        53.86 (27.88)
        1:22.21 (28.35)     1:50.76 (28.55)
        2:19.18 (28.42)     2:47.14 (27.96)
        3:15.31 (28.17)     3:43.72 (28.41)
        4:11.81 (28.09)     4:40.01 (28.20)
  5 Harnish, Courtn  JR Georgia           4:37.16    4:40.08 qB     
    r:+0.77  26.06        54.28 (28.22)
        1:22.49 (28.21)     1:50.89 (28.40)
        2:19.13 (28.24)     2:47.60 (28.47)
        3:15.97 (28.37)     3:44.48 (28.51)
        4:12.75 (28.27)     4:40.08 (27.33)
  6 McMahon, Kensey  SO Alabama           4:41.02    4:40.20 qB     
    r:+0.72  26.40        54.48 (28.08)
        1:22.45 (27.97)     1:50.55 (28.10)
        2:18.97 (28.42)     2:47.43 (28.46)
        3:15.88 (28.45)     3:44.65 (28.77)
        4:12.97 (28.32)     4:40.20 (27.23)
  7 Galyer, Ali J    SR Kentucky          4:39.56    4:41.14 qB     
    r:+0.66  25.80        53.87 (28.07)
        1:22.31 (28.44)     1:50.69 (28.38)
        2:18.96 (28.27)     2:47.27 (28.31)
        3:15.78 (28.51)     3:44.34 (28.56)
        4:12.80 (28.46)     4:41.14 (28.34)
  8 Hemstreet, Karl  SR Texas A&M         4:43.55    4:41.16 qB     
    r:+0.66  25.94        54.10 (28.16)
        1:22.84 (28.74)     1:51.52 (28.68)
        2:20.11 (28.59)     2:48.53 (28.42)
        3:16.86 (28.33)     3:45.10 (28.24)
        4:13.28 (28.18)     4:41.16 (27.88)

Men’s 500 Free

The men’s 500 free final should be a very, very exciting race on Wednesday night at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships as the top four were all under 4:15 and look to have a lot left. Top seed Walker Higgins of Georgia cruised to a 4:13.66 to snag lane four for tonight as he will be surrounded by Florida’s Bobby Finke (4:13.74) and Texas A&M’s Mark Theall (4:13.98).

Florida sophomore Kieran Smith, who blitzed a 1:30 on the lead off of the 800 free relay last night, is seeded fourth after not taking a hard stroke all morning. He was a 4:14.55 and will fight alongside teammate Finke.

Georgia’s Andrew Abruzzo (4:15.03) and Florida’s Khader Baqlah (4:15.56) will also vie for the top spots as they are seeded fifth and sixth. Georgia’s Greg Reed (4:16.79) and Alabama’s Nico Hernandez-Tome (4:17.64) also qualified for the final.

 Event 10  Men 500 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
         4:11.82  A
         4:23.34  B
    Name           Year School               Seed    Prelims              
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Higgins, Walker  SR Georgia           4:13.05    4:13.66 qB     
    r:+0.68  22.76        47.72 (24.96)
        1:13.19 (25.47)     1:38.76 (25.57)
        2:04.73 (25.97)     2:30.56 (25.83)
        2:56.48 (25.92)     3:22.52 (26.04)
        3:48.38 (25.86)     4:13.66 (25.28)
  2 Finke, Bobby C   SO FLOR              4:26.25    4:13.74 qB     
    r:+0.76  23.18        48.25 (25.07)
        1:13.62 (25.37)     1:39.16 (25.54)
        2:05.00 (25.84)     2:30.85 (25.85)
        2:56.75 (25.90)     3:22.67 (25.92)
        3:48.59 (25.92)     4:13.74 (25.15)
  3 Theall, Mark J   JR Texas A&M         4:12.19    4:13.98 qB     
    r:+0.64  23.25        48.50 (25.25)
        1:14.09 (25.59)     1:39.99 (25.90)
        2:05.91 (25.92)     2:32.12 (26.21)
        2:58.56 (26.44)     3:24.48 (25.92)
        3:49.66 (25.18)     4:13.98 (24.32)
  4 Smith, Kieran S  SO FLOR              4:18.13    4:14.55 qB     
    r:+0.70  23.08        48.34 (25.26)
        1:13.97 (25.63)     1:39.38 (25.41)
        2:04.85 (25.47)     2:30.71 (25.86)
        2:56.62 (25.91)     3:22.61 (25.99)
        3:48.83 (26.22)     4:14.55 (25.72)
  5 Abruzzo, Andrew  SO Georgia           4:16.59    4:15.03 qB     
    r:+0.80  23.38        48.67 (25.29)
        1:14.40 (25.73)     1:40.16 (25.76)
        2:05.99 (25.83)     2:31.90 (25.91)
        2:58.25 (26.35)     3:23.81 (25.56)
        3:49.64 (25.83)     4:15.03 (25.39)
  6 Baqlah, Khader   SR FLOR              4:20.62    4:15.56 qB     
    r:+0.71  23.45        48.79 (25.34)
        1:14.33 (25.54)     1:39.74 (25.41)
        2:05.70 (25.96)     2:31.61 (25.91)
        2:57.35 (25.74)     3:23.54 (26.19)
        3:49.48 (25.94)     4:15.56 (26.08)
  7 Reed, Greg C     JR Georgia           4:20.04    4:16.79 qB     
    r:+0.68  23.41        48.95 (25.54)
        1:15.07 (26.12)     1:41.07 (26.00)
        2:07.21 (26.14)     2:33.42 (26.21)
        2:59.57 (26.15)     3:25.61 (26.04)
        3:51.51 (25.90)     4:16.79 (25.28)
  8 Hernandez-Tome,  SO Alabama           4:24.38    4:17.64 qB     
    r:+0.66  23.45        48.91 (25.46)
        1:14.67 (25.76)     1:40.70 (26.03)
        2:06.84 (26.14)     2:32.75 (25.91)
        2:59.00 (26.25)     3:25.53 (26.53)
        3:51.93 (26.40)     4:17.64 (25.71)

Women’s 200 IM

Georgia freshman Zoie Hartman used a stellar breaststroke leg to take the top seed in the 200 IM at 1:54.22, splitting a 32.07 on the third 50, which was faster than anyone in the country. Hartman is seeded ahead of a trio of seniors in Kentucky’s Asia Seidt (1:54.43), Tennessee’s Meghan Small (1:54.43) and Tennessee’s Tess Cieplucha (1:55.32).

It should be a tale of two races tonight in the finals as Small and Seidt have strong front halfs and Hartman is stronger on the back half.

Texas A&M’s Jing Quah (1:56.17), Georgia’s Danielle Della Torre (1:56.24), Texas A&M’s Caroline Theil (1:56.67) and Kentucky’s Bailey Bonnett (1:56.68) also qualified for the final, leaving out Florida’s Vanessa Pearl (1:56.76).

 Event 11  Women 200 Yard IM
==================================================================
         1:53.66  A
         1:59.94  B
    Name           Year School               Seed    Prelims              
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Hartman, Zoie E  FR Georgia           1:53.69    1:54.22 qB     
    r:+0.78  25.64        54.30 (28.66)
        1:26.37 (32.07)     1:54.22 (27.85)
  2 Seidt, Asia M    SR Kentucky          1:55.62    1:54.43 qB     
    r:+0.69  24.66        52.11 (27.45)
        1:26.50 (34.39)     1:54.43 (27.93)
  2 Small, Meghan N  SR Tennessee         1:54.49    1:54.43 qB     
    r:+0.70  25.18        53.84 (28.66)
        1:26.90 (33.06)     1:54.43 (27.53)
  4 Cieplucha, Tess  SR Tennessee         1:56.54    1:55.32 qB     
    r:+0.73  25.02        54.27 (29.25)
        1:27.47 (33.20)     1:55.32 (27.85)
  5 Quah, Jing       JR Texas A&M         2:00.21    1:56.17 qB     
    r:+0.62  24.82        53.60 (28.78)
        1:28.19 (34.59)     1:56.17 (27.98)
  6 DellaTorre, Dan  JR Georgia           1:56.85    1:56.24 qB     
    r:+0.66  25.49        55.88 (30.39)
        1:28.43 (32.55)     1:56.24 (27.81)
  7 Theil, Caroline  SO Texas A&M         1:58.71    1:56.67 qB     
    r:+0.75  25.23        55.35 (30.12)
        1:28.50 (33.15)     1:56.67 (28.17)
  8 Bonnett, Bailey  JR Kentucky          1:57.34    1:56.68 qB     
    r:+0.66  25.16        54.84 (29.68)
        1:27.97 (33.13)     1:56.68 (28.71)

Men’s 200 IM

Texas A&M sophomore Shaine Casas put up a solid 1:40.51 in the 200 IM heats on Wednesday morning at the 2020 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships as he is two seconds ahead of second seed Nick Alexander of Missouri (1:42.81). Casas had the fastest time in the nation entering today and was a big favorite to win the national title in five weeks. He could challenge the American record of 1:38.13 set by Caeleb Dressel at this meet two years ago.

Florida’s Grant Sanders (1:43.38) is seeded third ahead of Missouri’s Danny Kovac (1:43.58) as the Tigers had a solid morning in this event, advancing two to the championship final.

Kentucky’s Glen Brown (1:43.98), Florida’s Dillon Hillis (1:44.29), Alabama’s Nicolas Perera (1:44.88) and Alabama’s Derek Maas (1:44.95) also advanced to the championship final.

 Event 12  Men 200 Yard IM
==================================================================
         1:41.34  A
         1:46.77  B
    Name           Year School               Seed    Prelims              
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Casas, Shaine M  SO Texas A&M         1:40.16    1:40.51 qA     
    r:+0.64  21.40        46.46 (25.06)
        1:15.87 (29.41)     1:40.51 (24.64)
  2 Alexander, Nick  SR Missouri          1:43.47    1:42.81 qB     
    r:+0.64  22.47        48.15 (25.68)
        1:18.04 (29.89)     1:42.81 (24.77)
  3 Sanders, Grant   SR FLOR              1:49.03    1:43.38 qB     
    r:+0.71  22.04        48.07 (26.03)
        1:17.53 (29.46)     1:43.38 (25.85)
  4 Kovac, Danny D   SO Missouri          1:42.60    1:43.58 qB     
    r:+0.60  21.79        47.34 (25.55)
        1:17.38 (30.04)     1:43.58 (26.20)
  5 Brown, Glen T    SR Kentucky          1:45.07    1:43.98 qB     
    r:+0.64  22.24        47.54 (25.30)
        1:17.99 (30.45)     1:43.98 (25.99)
  6 Hillis, Dillon   SO FLOR              1:47.36    1:44.29 qB     
    r:+0.64  22.17        48.20 (26.03)
        1:17.89 (29.69)     1:44.29 (26.40)
  7 Perera, Nichola  SO Alabama           1:49.22    1:44.88 qB     
    r:+0.63  22.79        49.13 (26.34)
        1:19.18 (30.05)     1:44.88 (25.70)
  8 Maas, Derek E    FR Alabama           1:49.91    1:44.95 qB     
    r:+0.67  23.14        50.24 (27.10)
        1:19.55 (29.31)     1:44.95 (25.40)

Women’s 50 Free

The women’s 50 free was one of the events we highlighted in our lead-up to the meet as one of the races to watch and it looks like it will deliver on that front tonight. Tennessee senior Erika Brown blasted a 21.19 to lead the qualifiers on Wednesday morning at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Auburn. She is well ahead of Arkansas senior Anna Hopkin (21.54), who had an identical 21.19 seed time from the November Invitationals. The winner could get under 21 seconds tonight.

Auburn seniors Julie Meynen (21.68) and Claire Fisch (21.71) are third and fourth for tonight and will be joined by freshman AJ Kutsch (22.09), who should make the Auburn 200 free relay tough to beat at the start of finals tonight.

Missouri’s Sarah Thompson (21.77), Georgia’s Gabi Fa’amausili (22.11) and Tennessee’s Bailey Grinter (22.15) also qualified for the championship final

 Event 13  Women 50 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
           21.66  A
           22.76  B
    Name           Year School               Seed    Prelims              
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Brown, Erika J   SR Tennessee           21.19      21.19 qA     
    r:+0.63  10.30        21.19 (10.89)
  2 Hopkin, Anna E   SR Arkansas            21.19      21.54 qA     
    r:+0.68  10.43        21.54 (11.11)
  3 Meynen, Julie    SR Auburn              21.80      21.68 qB     
    r:+0.62  10.48        21.68 (11.20)
  4 Fisch, Claire A  SR Auburn              22.05      21.71 qB     
    r:+0.68  10.41        21.71 (11.30)
  5 Thompson, Sarah  JR Missouri            21.53      21.77 qB     
    r:+0.63  10.44        21.77 (11.33)
  6 Kutsch, AJ       FR Auburn              22.67      22.09 qB     
    r:+0.68  10.58        22.09 (11.51)
  7 Fa'amausili, Ga  JR Georgia             22.32      22.11 qB     
    r:+0.66  10.64        22.11 (11.47)
  8 Grinter, Bailey  JR Tennessee           21.95      22.15 qB     
    r:+0.69  10.75        22.15 (11.40)

Men’s 50 Free

Alabama senior Zane Waddell showcased his sprint speed in the 50 free, a day after going a 20.3 in the 50 back. He is the top seed for the 50 free final at 19.16 ahead of in-state rival Santiago Grassi (19.27) of Auburn. Waddell will be joined in the final by fellow Crimson Tide swimmer Tyler Sesvold (19.31), who is seeded third. The Tide have had a marvelous sprint tradition and that will be on display in the 200 free relay at the start of finals tonight.

There will be two freshmen in the final with Georgia’s Dillon Downing (19.32) and LSU’s Brooks Curry (19.41) in fourth and sixth as they dropped a half second off their seed times to advance to the championship final.

Texas A&M’s Adam Koster (19.38), Kentucky’s Peter Wetzlar (19.43) and South Carolina’s Lewis Burras (19.45) also advanced to the final.

 Event 14  Men 50 Yard Freestyle
==================================================================
           18.96  A
           19.96  B
    Name           Year School               Seed    Prelims              
==================================================================
                      === Preliminaries ===                       
 
  1 Waddell, Zane    SR Alabama             19.15      19.16 qB     
     r:+0.64  9.29         19.16 (9.87)
  2 Grassi, Santiag  SR Auburn              19.84      19.27 qB     
     r:+0.61  9.22        19.27 (10.05)
  3 Sesvold, Tyler   JR Alabama             19.65      19.31 qB     
     r:+0.63  9.26        19.31 (10.05)
  4 Downing, Dillon  FR Georgia             19.85      19.32 qB     
     r:+0.65  9.34         19.32 (9.98)
  5 Koster, Adam R   SR Texas A&M           19.49      19.38 qB     
     r:+0.63  9.24        19.38 (10.14)
  6 Curry, Brooks V  FR LSU                 19.90      19.41 qB     
     r:+0.61  9.33        19.41 (10.08)
  7 Wetzlar, Peter   SR Kentucky            19.73      19.43 qB     
     r:+0.62  9.32        19.43 (10.11)
  8 Burras, Lewis E  SO South Carolina      19.70      19.45 qB     
     r:+0.65  9.48         19.45 (9.97)

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