COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It was a big day two for the Texas A&M women’s team at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Swimming & Diving Championships as the Aggies tallied their first-ever SEC crown and climbed to second place in the team standings on Wednesday.
The Aggies jumped from sixth to second from day one to day two, and now trail only three-time defending SEC Champion Georgia in the team standings. The Bulldogs lead the way with 500 points and the Aggies are 36 points back with 464 points. Rounding out the team standings are Florida (443), Tennessee (429), LSU (277), Missouri (274), Auburn (263), Arkansas (234), Kentucky (194), Alabama (161), South Carolina (129) and Vanderbilt (92).
“We definitely had a good day,” Aggie head coach Steve Bultman said. “We had 16 swimmers in prelims and all of them made it back for an evening swim, so you can’t ask for much than that. They really stepped up and raced in the morning, and were even better in the finals.”
Leading the way was a championship performance by sophomore Sarah Henry in the 500-yard freestyle. Henry, who missed last season with an injury, took down a star-studded field to win in a time of 4:35.25, which was just two seconds off her school record of 4:33.07 from the fall season. Henry held off Georgia’s Amber McDermott (4:35.82) and Allison Schmitt (4:36.54) down the stretch for the win. Also finishing well for the Aggies were junior Cammile Adams (4th, 4:37.04) and senior Maureen McLaine (6th, 4:38.77).
“That was a heck of a race by Sarah,” Bultman said. “The 500 free in the SEC is absolutely loaded so for her to win was some really good racing. I was really happy to see her get her hand on the wall first.”
Added Henry, “Yeah it was pretty stacked. You had Allison (Schmitt), who has a few medals. But I wasn't nervous. I've learned lately to just step up and race. Even though I wasn't fully rested, I went in thinking 'whatever happens, happens,' and to go out there and swim my own race.”
The Aggies were in contention for another SEC title but senior diver Becca St. Germain fell just shy of the win in the one-meter dive. St. Germain grabbed runner-up honors with a score of 312.40, which was just behind Missouri’s Loren Figueroa (315.45).
“Considering Becca can’t straight out her arm (due to injury), she did a fantastic job,” Aggie diving coach Jay Lerew said. “The field in the SEC is really deep. There are girls that didn’t make the final that will be at NCAAs in a few weeks. Her finish was awesome and I’m very proud.”
The Aggies also put three swimmers in the Championship final of the 200 IM with junior Caroline McElhany taking third in 1:55.97, followed by junior Erica Dittmer (5th, 1:57.24) and junior Paige Miller (7th, 1:58.03).
Sophomore Lili Ibanez posted her lifetime best in the 50 free with a time of 22.21 while finishing sixth in the Championship final.
The Aggies closed out the meet with a solid fourth place finish in the 200 free relay. The foursome of sophomore Sammie Bosma, Dittmer, McElhany and Ibanez touched in 1:29.04, which made the group the fourth-fastest in school history.