TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – The University of Arkansas swimming and diving team finished seventh overall after the final day of competition at the Southeastern Conference Championship at the Alabama Aquatic Center.
Auburn won the SEC title for the second year in a row, followed by Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU. Arkansas placed seventh, moving up two places from its score last year and equaling the best finish in program history. Alabama, South Carolina and Vanderbilt finished 8th-10th.
Arkansas crushed nine school records in the four-day championship and left the names of the 2007-08 squad in the top five of many of the all-time records.
“It was an incredible SEC Championship,” said head coach Jeff Poppell. “We swam out of our minds and we were just nine points away from the 17th-best team in the nation (LSU). We swam well enough to finish fifth, but LSU and Kentucky both put up fantastic scores in diving. I’m so proud of the girls. I can’t think of a better way to send out our seniors and to end the season.”
On Saturday, freshman Katie Kastes touched in third in the 200 butterfly with a school-record time of 1:57.87. Junior Stephanie Carr also shattered the 1,650-freestyle record by almost nine seconds with a sixth-place finish in 16:12.90. Both times were NCAA automatic qualifiers.
Arkansas racked up points in both the 200 fly and the 1,650 free. In the 200 fly, freshman Erica Totten finished 14th with a career best 2:02.38. Gregory also scored a point for the Lady’Backs, touching in 16th. Her prelim time of 2:02.26 was a personal best. Freshman Jamie Marks finished 17th with a 2:02.88 while freshman Kylie Kastes turned in an individual best 2:05.77.
In the 1,650 free, freshman Ashley Largo placed 10th with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 16:22.93. Her time was the second-best in program history. Marks swam over 40 seconds faster than her previous personal best with an 11th-place finish in 16:28.11. Freshman Shara Sutphen placed 16th with a 16:50.83, followed by junior Macey Webb with a 17:16.68. Both times were individual bests.
Freshman Erin Neumann put her name in the records with the fourth-fastest time in the 200 breaststroke. She finished 14th with a 2:18.14. Junior Elizabeth Engs (2:20.26) touched in 19th followed by senior Katie McGraw (2:21.66) in 24th and freshman Brittany Kimmitt (2:21.74) in 25th.
Freshman Jessie Clark was the only Lady’Back to swim the 200 backstroke and she did so in a personal-best time of 2:04.64.
In the 100 free, senior Tifanie Silver had the best finish at 19th with a career best 51.20. Sophomore Lynette Ng (51.59) placed 24th, while junior Summer Jackson (51.94) touched in 33rd and freshman Megan Haskins (52.05) was 36th.
In the platform diving event, junior Madison Palmer scored a 184.35 and placed 17th. Junior Hilarie Wilson finished 18th with a 182.40 and junior Kellyn Williams was 21st with a 150.35.
In the final event of the evening, the 400-free relay squad of Ng, Jackson, Haskins and Silver finished eighth with the third-best time in program history of 3:24.21.
Arkansas swimming and diving is not set to compete again until March 13-16 at the NCAA Zone Diving meet. The NCAA Championships run March 20-22.
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