No. 5 Men’s Swimming & Diving Set For SEC Championships

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AUBURN, Ala. – The No. 5 Texas A&M men's swimming & diving team hopes to claim its first team SEC title at the 2020 SEC Championships in the James E. Martin Aquatic Center at Auburn, Alabama. The five-day meet begins Tuesday, Feb. 18 and concludes Saturday, Feb. 22.

The Meet
With the exception of Tuesday, the morning prelims begin at 9:30 a.m. and the finals begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday's prelims are at 10 a.m., and the finals kick off with the women's 1-meter springboard at 4:20 p.m., followed by the 200 medley relay, men's 3-meter dive and the 800 free relay. Wednesday's finals include the 200 free relay, 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and the men's 1-meter springboard, respectively. Thursday features the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free and the women's 3-meter, respectively. Friday's finals are the 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, men's platform and the 400 medley relay. Saturday's itinerary shows the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, women's platform and the 400 free relay as the finale. For more meet information visit the SEC Championship Central.

Fans can watch both, the prelims and the finals on SEC Network+. Authenticated subscribers can access the stream through the ESPN app or logging on to SECNetwork.com on their device. The table below includes the links for the morning prelims and the evening finals on each day of the meet.

The Competition
Seven SEC teams are ranked among the top-25 teams in the nation, the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America announced on Jan. 22. The Maroon & White are the top-ranked SEC team, as the No. 5 team in the nation. Missouri trails closely, ranked as at the No. 6 spot. No. 8 Georgia and No. 9 Florida round up the remainder of SEC schools within the top 10. Texas A&M has already faced two SEC schools in dual-meet fashion, with its 157-143 loss at No. 11 Georgia and its 182-113 dominance at LSU.

The Aggies
Texas A&M owns the top times in the SEC in the three freestyle relays and in eight of the individual events. Sophomore Shaine Casas owns four top times in the SEC. The bulk of the Maroon & White's standout times came from the Art Adamson Invite where it managed to set eight new school records and won by a margin of 647 points over second-place USC. Eight different Aggies own times ranked among the top-30 times in the nation, in addition to Texas A&M notching a top-five time in all five relay events. As a result, Texas A&M boasts its ranking at the No. 5 spot by the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America, their highest ranking since 2001. The Maroon & White enters the SEC with a 7-3 dual-meet record.

Texas A&M's Top Times in the SEC
Athlete Event Time
Shaine Casas 100 Back :44.48
Shaine Casas 200 Back 1:38.21
Shaine Casas 100 Fly :45.26
Shaine Casas 200 IM 1:40.16
Adam Koster 100 Free :42.26
Andres Puente 200 Breast 1:52.48
Mark Theall 200 Free 1:32.96
Mark Theall 500 Free 4:12.19

The Record Book
The Aggies' top team finish at the SEC's was in 2018 when the Maroon & White placed second in their home pool. Benjamin Walker is the only swimmer in school history with an SEC title, after he won the 200 breast (1:52.55) last year. Last year, Kurtis Mathews earned the silver medal in the 3-meter springboard with a score of 444.04.

Quotes
Men's head coach Jay Holmes
On the excitement for the SEC's…
"It is going to be a fight from the time we step onto the pool deck. It's a fight that we've prepared for and are thrilled to be a part of. I'm excited for our guys having the opportunity to get in there and do it."

On who the team's leaning on for a win…
"We've got some guys that have really stepped up. Everybody in the country right now knows Shaine Casas. He was ranked in the top 10 in the world in three different events last summer. We're counting on him a lot, but there's no way that Shaine's going to do this all by himself. We have plenty of good support people. Benjamin Walker has been really great for us, especially in the breaststrokes and IM's. We will be counting on Adam Koster in the sprint freestyles. We have a lot of people that are able to score a whole lot of points."

On the competition level at the SEC's…
"Before we ever even got into the SEC a couple of conference coaches told us that we're about to step into something you've probably never seen or have been a part of before. He was right. The SEC's are exciting. For the NCAA Championships you may only have three to nine kids qualify, but for the SEC's your whole team is there. It's everyone you've been fighting with all year long. At the SEC's you have 10 men's teams and 12 women's teams all crowded into one pool. It's really exciting for the whole team, so it's going to be a fun time for both of our teams."

Head diving coach Jay Lerew
On the SEC's…
"Well it's like in track & field, we're the field events. We're important. It's a very different sport than swimming, but it's a part of the game. At the SEC Championships it's a team event. Every point counts. Diving has always done very well, and I'd hope to continue that. We have two men [Kurtis Mathews and Victor Povzner] that are pretty much on the world level in competition. Mathews just made the world team in Australia this week, and Povzner made the Russian national team the week before that. We've got two men that will show some stuff this week."

On the duo's potential to go one-two on the springboards…
"If they [Mathews and Povzner] dive like the way they can dive, I think that could happen. I don't want to make any predictions, because diving is pretty unpredictable. They are two of the top-two divers in the conference, so we will see how it goes."

Follow the Action
Check 12thman.com and follow @AggieSwimDive on Twitter for results.