Sophomore Kyle DeCoursey and freshman Meghan Small capped off the SEC Swimming and Diving Championship meet with new school records in the women’s 200 backstroke and the men’s 100 freestyle on Saturday night.
DeCoursey earned bronze for the Vols in the 100 free, finishing in 42.07, shaving one second off of his career best and setting a new program record in the last night of finals. Small finished fourth overall in the 200 back but set a new school record with her 1:51.91 time.
Tennessee’s women finished the meet fourth overall with 855 points and seven medals, while the men finished sixth with 770.5 and three medals.
Some of the youngest Vols were responsible for the biggest wins during the course of the week. Small set new school records in her gold 200 IM (1:53.31) and bronze 400 IM (4:04.93) finishes, while sophomore Madeline Banic won gold in the 50 free and set another school record with her 21.54 finish.
Banic also collected a bronze medal in the 100 fly, finishing in 51.50.
“We had some people really emerge as great pressure performers,”
Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich said. “Kyle DeCoursey, Meghan Small, Madeline Banic and Liam Stone were exceptional. Both teams are very young. We have a lot of freshman, and it was cool to see them grow through the meet.”
Florida’s men team won the SEC Swimming and Diving title for the fifth consecutive year with 1271.5, led by junior Caeleb Dressel. Dressel was named the SEC Male Swimmer of the Meet and earned the Men’s Commissioner’s Trophy, racking up 92 points for the Gators with three individual wins in the 50 free, 100 fly and 100 free.
He was also a part of the team that took the gold and set new a SEC record in the 200 medley relay (1:23.69) and new pool records in the 200 free relay (1:15.67), 400 free relay (2:47.09) and 400 medley relay (3:04.52). Florida also took the 800 free relay (6:12.18), setting the new SEC record and sweeping all five relay events at the championship meet for the first time in Gator history.
Texas A&M’s women finished out the meet with back-to-back SEC titles, taking first with 1,304 points after leading all week. Sarah Gibson won the Women’s Commissioner’s Trophy and earned Female Swimmer of the Meet honors.
Gibson set a new SEC record in the 100 fly (50.71) and pool record in the 200 fly (1:52.64). She also won the 500 free in 4:38.92 and was a part of the Aggies’ relay teams that won the 800 free (6:57.90) and set a new pool record in the 400 medley (3:29.81).
LSU freshman Juan Hernandez took gold in the platform on Saturday night and was named the Men’s Diver of the Meet after finishing second in both of the springboard events earlier in the week. His final score of 496.55 in the platform set a new SEC record, while his second place finishes in the 1-meter (467.05) and 3-meter (469.95) were also higher than the previous SEC records.
Junior Liam Stone missed the finals cut in the platform on Saturday, but set a new career best by nearly 30 points, finishing 10th overall in the event with 339.00 points. Stone started the meet off by winning the 1-meter with an SEC record breaking score of 468.30 and taking third in the 3-meter with 442.90 points.
While Stone does not have as much experience on the platform as the springboard, Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington was still proud of his performance overall at the SEC Championship.
“Probably a little of that inexperience kept him out of the final, but also he got up there and did some really good dives,” Parrington said. “I think there is a lot of room for improvement, but the fact that he was in the hunt to make the final was a really good thing.
“As far as the whole week, I felt like we were very, very competitive across the boards.”
Sophomore Rachel Rubadue finished second in the platform on Friday with a final score of 315.20 after finishing first in the preliminaries earlier that day.
She missed the finals cut in the1-meter (294.40) and 3-meter (301.90), finishing 13th overall in both events.
Missouri’s Lauren Reedy won the Women’s Diver of the Meet award, finishing first and setting a new pool record in the 1-meter (364.30) and fifth in the 3-meter (339.90).
Moving into the NCAA Championships, Kredich would like to see the teams improve their emotional stamina through long meets.
“Really until (Saturday morning), we put together very consistent sessions and every session had some exceptional performances in it,” Kredich said. “I think we can do better at planning our emotional allocation of energy because when we needed it probably most, we didn’t really have it.”