The Tennessee swim team held an intrasquad meet Friday at Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, with the White team besting the Orange squad 521.5 to 390.5.
Taylor Abbott and Tess Cieplucha brought the White team to an early 253 to 209 lead and never looked back. Abbott swept the men’s 500 freestyle, 1000 freestyle and 200 butterfly, and Cieplucha won the same events on the women's side.
Head coach Matt Kredich feels that the Orange and White meet is an important event to start the new season.
“It kind of wakes us out of a training mode into a competition mode ... Competition is really the engine that drives improvement,” Kredich said.
Tennessee Director of Athletics John Currie announced last week that Kredich received a contract extension through the 2022 season.
“To be able to look ahead for five more years with the administration … I am humbled by it and I am also really appreciative of it,” Kredich said.
The Vols return this year with six members from last year’s All-SEC Team.
“It’s great to have people who have been really successful here, both academically and athletically, to be able to show the way for a group of very eager freshmen,” Kredich said.
Tennessee has nine freshmen on the men’s team and twelve freshmen on the women’s team. Several freshman on the White team made an impact at Friday's intrasquad meet, including Bailey Grinter, who won the women's 100 backstroke, and Nikol Popov, who won the women's 100 breaststroke.
“Across the board, our freshmen showed a real competitiveness today and I think a lot of them are going to make an impact on the SEC level and maybe the NCAA level as well,” Kredich said.
The diving team competed in a one meter and three meter dive for both the women and the men. There are five new divers on this year’s team: four freshmen and Colin Zeng, a transfer from Ohio State University who is now in his junior year.
“Colin is a veteran diver. He has been here all summer training, so that’s good; he doesn’t feel that new to us,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “(As for) the four freshmen … (I am) pretty pleased with how everybody did. This type of event is a lot different, it’s a different format, and it’s more like a competitive training situation.”
Freshman Will Hallam won the men’s three meter dive for the White team.
“Will Hallam just beat some really good upperclassmen. That was impressive,” Kredich said.
The upperclassmen are headlined by Zeng and Liam Stone. Stone was named SEC Diver of the Year last season and is the lone captain of the men’s diving team. Although Stone will have competition from other SEC divers, including some from his own team, Parrington expects another good season from Stone.
“Even within our own squad now, he’s got a guy he’s going to be competing against for that honor, as well as some other outstanding divers from LSU and Texas A&M and some other schools,” Parrington said. “Our SEC Championships are always tough, but this year they are big-time tough.”
Rachel Rubadue won both diving events on the women’s side for the Orange team.
Kredich said this meet has changed the whole mindset for the team as they head into the regular season.
“When you start keeping score on an Orange and White level, it really moves our team into a different orbit,” Kredich said. “This year, it feels like they took it more seriously maybe than they have in the past.”
Tennessee will compete next weekend when they go on the road to face the University of North Carolina-Wilmington from Oct. 6 through Oct. 7.