The Tennessee swimming and diving team faced a tough challenge when Indiana and Kentucky came to town on Friday for a double dual meet.
Indiana brought the No. 1-ranked men’s team in the country and the No. 8 women’s team, while the Wildcats came in with the No. 15 women’s team.
However, Tennessee was ready for the challenge.
The women's team swept the ranked competition, defeating Indiana 159-141 and beating Kentucky 170-130. Tennessee’s men took care of Kentucky 216-84 and were narrowly defeated by the top-ranked Hoosiers, 165-135.
“There were some great things that happened today…if I look at the whole picture, we took some big steps forward today,” head coach Matt Kredich said.
Erika Brown was a key part of the sweep for the Tennessee women. She won the 50 freestyle (22.65) and finished first in the 100 butterfly (52.61).
“Erika continues to be someone we are relying on for relays and freestyle, and she has developed into quite an extraordinary sprinter,” Kredich said.
Brown finished second in the 100 freestyle (49.45) behind teammate Stanzi Moseley, who won the event in a time of 49.35.
Tennessee's women were also boosted by a first place finish in the 400 free relay (3:20.85) that consisted of Micah Bohon, Tjasa Pintar, Meghan Small and Stanzi Moseley.
On the men’s side, the Vols got off to a quick start by winning the 200 medley relay (1:26.22) behind performances from Braga Verhage, Peter Stevens, Ryan Coetzee and Kyle DeCoursey.
Tennessee’s men were led individually by Taylor Abbott, who won the 1000 free (9:07.14) and the 500 free (4:25.63).
“Taylor appears to be on a mission this season, he learns from every race and you can see him getting better every week both in training and in meets,” Kredich said.
Matthew Dunphy edged out Indiana’s Ian Finnerty in the 200 breaststroke, finishing in 1:59.45 in one of the most exciting races of the day.
Dunphy is stepping into a leadership role for this Tennessee team, according to his coach.
“I think Matthew is a model on our team for how to approach the craft of swimming,” Kredich said. “He really leaves no stone unturned in his efforts to get better. He is the first guy in here and the last guy to leave every day.”
The diving events were also key for Tennessee in this meet.
Indiana brought two of the top three finishers from the 1-meter springboard at the NCAA Championships last season, and both divers (Michael Hixon and James Connor) also finished in the top-10 for the 3-meter event.
Tennessee’s Colin Zeng, a junior transfer from Ohio State, did not back down from the test. Zeng finished first in the 1-meter event with a score of 414.35 and placed second behind Hixon in the 3-meter (400.70).
“It was good to see Colin step up and win against a phenomenal field of divers…the moment they come in and just to see them lift their competitive edge,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased.”
Tennessee fared well on the women’s side of the diving competition as well. Freshman Ana Hernandez finished second in the 1-meter (288.75) and won the 3-meter event with a score of 316.30.
“I would describe this as a break-out day for her,” Parrington said. “She had a tough opening meet against Auburn on the road, but she came back and she has been working diligently…you wouldn’t think she is 17 years old and a freshman.”
Junior Rachel Rubadue took third in both the 1-meter and the 3-meter for Tennessee.
The Vols will be on the road next as they face Louisville on Thursday in Kentucky at 2 p.m.