The Tennessee men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams wrapped up a successful campaign over the weekend in the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships.
After the final scores were tallied up, the women's team took home third place with a total of 950.5 points; Texas A&M (1,319) and Georgia (1,030) took home first and second places, respectively.
The men’s team came out with a fourth-place standing in the conference, finishing with a final score of 899 points; the Florida Gators took home first with 1,237 points.
One area where the Vols and Lady Vols both shined was relay racing. The women took a trip to the podium in all five relay events.
The strongest relay team consisted of Micah Bohon, Stanzi Moseley, Madeline Banic and Meghan Small. They received second place after crossing the finish line with a time of 3:12.76.
For the men, the team of Alec Connolly, Joey Reilman, Kyle DeCoursey and Austin Hirstein finished with a time of 2:50.64, the second-fastest time in this event in Tennessee’s history.
Head Coach Matt Kredich was very pleased with the Vols’ showing in the relay events.
“We had some real bright sports this morning,” head coach Matt Kredich said. “I felt we showed a little bit of slippage of discipline in our preparation. The morning of the fifth day, it's a test of discipline. Some were outstanding. Our male backstrokers were fantastic.
“Tonight, I think we competed really well across the board. Our relays at the end were fantastic. I think this last session gives us great momentum heading into NCAAs.”
In individual events, Tess Cieplucha put on a show for the Lady Vols. She was impressive in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing with a stellar time of 2:08.66. That mark placed her second in the Lady Vols’ history books, trailing only Olympian Molly Hannis for the top spot.
As for the men, Joey Reilman was strong in the 200-yard backstroke, nabbing fourth place with an impressive time of 1:41.25 which also earned him second place in the Vols’ record book.
“It was a very evenly contested event,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “You had three or four women really battling it out, just waiting for someone to make a move. Unfortunately, Rachel missed her third dive a little, which is strong for her. She had two big rounds after to put her right back in the thick of it, but she needed a little more. A good preliminary and a good final to cap what has been a stellar week for her.
“I'm also extremely proud of Ana coming up a little shy to make the finals. It will be great experience for Emily to get some points coming back from surgery — it's been a great week for the Lady Vol divers.”
Of all of the strong performances by the team, Erika Brown was perhaps the brightest star: She competed in seven events and made a trip to the podium in each.
Brown had upstanding performances in the 100-yard freestyle, the 100-yard butterfly, and the 50-yard freestyle. Most notably, she set a new school record in the 100-yard freestyle and earned a first-place victory with her time of 47.17 seconds.
In the 100-yard butterfly, she earned second place in the NCAA women's record book with her time of 49.85 seconds. A headache for her opponents in the 50-yard freestyle, she posted a time of 21.39 seconds, successfully bringing home the gold in this event as well.
At the conclusion of the meet, Brown was named the SEC Swimmer of the Meet and the co-winner of the Commissioner's Trophy for high points scorer. She was undoubtedly dominant over the weekend and left her name stamped all over the record books.
“I'm excited for (Brown’s) performances, but I'm so proud for her, for the way she's approached this year and this meet,” Kredich said. “The success she's had and attention she's had (haven't) disrupted her. She's been very gracious and accepting of the attention. She has the ability to get a lot better and equipped to handle everything that's coming at her, including higher expectations.
“I know she'll have disappointments and dips, but you can tell the way people handle loss by the way (they) handle their success, and that's been impressive to watch. She's well equipped to keep progressing in the sport, and that's going to help her and her teammates.”