COLLEGE STATION, Texas --- The Tennessee women and the Auburn men took early team leads after the first day of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships on Tuesday at Student Recreation Natatorium on the Texas A&M campus.
Highlighting the first day of action were SEC meet records from the Volunteer women’s 200-yard medley relay and the Georgia women’s 800 freestyle relay.
The UT women’s relay of Lauren Solernou, Molly Hannis, Kelsey Floyd and Faith Johnson touched the wall in a time of 1:35.08, which broke the old record of 1:35.33 set by the Lady Vols in 2012 and was the second straight SEC win in the race. The top seven finishers all posted NCAA “A” qualifying cuts.
The Georgia foursome of Shannon Vreeland, Megan Romano, Jordan Mattern and Allison Schmitt took down the old SEC meet record by nearly a full second with a time of 6:52.64. The old record of 6:53.58 was set Georgia in 2011. It was the Bulldogs’ fourth straight SEC crown in the race. The top five finishing teams all turned in NCAA “A” qualifying cuts.
Grabbing individual victories in the diving events were Missouri’s David Bonuchi in the men’s one-meter dive and Georgia’s Laura Ryan in the women’s three-meter dive. Bonuchi logged the Tigers’ first-ever SEC Championship with a score of 401.50, while Ryan grabbed the win with a 361.80 point total.
In the men’s 200-yard medley relay, the Auburn Tigers defended their 2012 title in the race with the foursome of Kyle Owens, Stuart Ferguson, Marcelo Chierighini and James Disney-May finished in 1:24.11. The top three team all posted NCAA “A” cuts.
In the men’s 800 free relay, the Florida Gators won their third SEC crown in four years with the relay of Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Ed Solaeche Gomez and Marcin Cieslak finishing in 6:14.76. The top seven finishers had NCAA “A” cuts.
SEC Swimming & Diving Quotesheet
Jordan Mattern, Georgia, third leg of the 800 freestyle relay: "We are all super excited about it. If you saw us behind the blocks, we were so nervous. We just wanted to go out and try our best, and that's what we did. We were excited about the record, but we take it gracefully and calmly. It was fun. And I could not have been with a greater group of girls than I was with."
Coach Jack Bauerle, Georgia: "An American record, that's pretty neat. You always worry about just winning at this meet, but an American record is special. That's the four fastest ladies ever in the history of our sport. I'm very proud of them. And I think we can go faster. We want to reset that thing and make it a better one."
Diving coach Dan Laak, Georgia: "Laura (Ryan) has worked hard all year long, and she definitely deserves this. She's been a great asset to our team and a great addition. Today she just stayed focused. She's a seasoned veteran and she kept plugging along. She hit some key dives and pulled it off at the end."
Laura Ryan, Georgia, 3-meter diving champion: "I had my teammates cheering me on and it was an amazing atmosphere. It's so exciting to come away with the win. We've put in a lot of hard work and we've really been focusing on this meet. I went in with the mindset of not worrying about what others were doing. I just wanted to pay attention to my own diving, and that worked for me. I was a little shaky at first, but I dialed in and said, 'OK, I can do this. Just breathe.' Georgia has had a lot of great divers, so to be the first SEC winner means a lot."
Head Coach Brett Hawke, Auburn: I thought it was a really strong day. We set it up well with diving today. I was really happy with the way they performed. They gave our swimmers a lot of confidence. It takes the weight off your shoulders when you’re going in with a lead before the swimmers even start. Coach Shaffer and the divers did a phenomenal job. Then we came out in that men’s (medley) relay and got a win. All of our splits were good, but we still need to clean up a few details. But overall, we performed really well today.”
Kyle Owens, Auburn, men’s 200 medley relay: “It was a good way to start off the meet. It’s right where we should be with how much rest we’ve been getting. It’s exciting to start off with a bang and hopefully finish off the rest of the meet really well. I slipped on the start so I started out a little behind, but I was able to catch up and make up some ground. Marcelo (Chierighini’s) split (in the butterfly) was huge for us. He’s known for his freestyle, but to be able to put him on the fly and know that he’s going to do his job is huge.”
David Bonuchi, Missouri, men’s 1m winner: “Winning felt amazing. It felt like all our hard work paid off, we’ve been training all year. I had my team supporting me. It was just an awesome experience.”