The Tennessee swimming and diving team fared well in its first double dual meet of the year, racing against Wisconsin and Auburn.
Now the Vols will have a similar challenge as Indiana and Kentucky come to town for a double dual meet at Jones Aquatic Center on Friday.
The Hoosiers boast the top-ranked men’s team in the country, according to the CSCAA poll released on Oct. 25. They also have the No. 8 women’s team. Kentucky is ranked No. 15 in the women’s poll, and its men’s team is unranked.
Tennessee was rewarded for its impressive start to the season with the men’s team (3-0, 1-0 SEC) moving from No. 18 to No. 15 in the poll and the women (2-1, 0-1) going from No. 14 to No. 12.
“The whole coaching staff and the team feel like we are on a really good path,” head coach Matt Kredich said. “We have made a lot of progress and certainly have a lot more to do, but for where we are in the season, I think we feel good.”
Indiana’s No. 1-ranked men’s team is coming into this meet fresh off of a sweep against Florida and Texas, teams that are both ranked in the top five. Kentucky’s men are not ranked in the top 25, but they did defeat the Vols last season in Lexington.
The women’s team should see some competitive action as well, notably in facing Indiana. Lilly King, an Olympic record holder in the 100 meter breaststroke, is a junior for the Hoosiers.
Along with the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke at Rio in 2016, King also won gold in the women’s 4x100m medley relay, in which she swam the breaststroke leg of the relay. King was the 2016 NCAA Champion in the 100 yard breaststroke and the 200 yard breaststroke.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her teammates, but for anyone who races in the U.S.,” Kredich said. “We see Olympians and world record holders fairly often in the summer, so it is great to have those kind of people come to our pool, and it is a reminder that we are competing in a great country.”
The diving events will be highly contested, especially on the men’s side, during Friday’s meet. Diving coach Dave Parrington thinks the intrasquad competition between Liam Stone and Colin Zeng has been beneficial in preparing the two divers for the contest.
“Every day in practice, those two guys go at it and go against each other and push one another in a very positive manner,” Parrington said. “That is a really good environment to have these guys training in.”
Indiana brings Michael Hixon and James Connor, two of the top three finishers from last season’s NCAA Championships in the 1-meter springboard. Both divers also placed in the top-10 for the 3-meter springboard.
Stone and Zeng finished in the top 10 in both events as well, though, so Friday’s events could be a closely-contested matchup.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Parrington said. “That’s pretty cool to have four guys from the top 10 at the NCAA Championships last year going head to head ... that’s pretty unusual competition to have in a dual meet. I know for sure my guys are excited about the prospects of Hixon and Connor, not to mention Kentucky has a guy that is no slouch as well.”
The Tennessee-hosted meet will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday at Jones Aquatic Center.
“We are ready, we love great competition,” Kredich said. “We have had some great meets in the past with both Indiana and Kentucky and we expect another good one.”