KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Arkansas swimming and diving team sits in 7th place after a solid day one of the SEC Championships at the Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn. Arkansas has 59 points, just 15 out of third place, while the host Volunteers are in the lead with 118.
On a short first day that included one-meter diving, the 200 medley relay, and the 800 freestyle relay, Arkansas had scoring athletes or relay teams in all three events.
"Our first swims are under our belt," said Arkansas head coach Jeff Poppell. "We’ve got to come in tomorrow, with the first individual swims of the meet, and get as many second swims and finals as possible."
The first swimming event of the meet, the 200 medley relay, saw the Arkansas team of sophomore Liz Braun, freshman Nikki Daniels, senior Katie Whitbeck and freshman Susanna White score and place eighth with a time of 1:42.18. That marked the Razorbacks’ fastest time in the event this season, and the fourth-best in school history.
"This is the fastest conference in the country," Poppell said of the competition that includes three top-five teams in the country. "It’s really important that we don’t get overwhelmed by that and we continue to focus on what we need to do. If we focus on ourselves, we’ll do really well."
Sophomore Nicole Menzel swam her best 200 yard leadoff split of the year in the 800 freestyle relay, in 1:48.60. Menzel led teammates, junior Sigrun Sverrisdottir, senior Alison Templin and junior Chelsea Franklin to a 7:21.27 finish, the team’s second-fastest time in the event this season.
In the preliminary session of one-meter diving, both junior Kesha Naylor and senior Liana Bugslag were in contention, but were narrowly denied top-eight finishes and a chance to compete in the finals. Naylor finished ninth with 269.75 points, and Bugslag placed 11th, with 267.90. Naylor had a spot in the top eight and the evening finals session until the very last diver of the preliminary rounds pushed her into ninth place and out of the finals.
"We’ve got two-thirds of the team that hasn’t even touched the water yet," Poppell said. "For most of our team tomorrow will be the first swimming event."
Day two of the SEC Championships continues Tuesday morning, starting at 9 a.m. For more information about Razorback swimming and diving, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.