GAINESVILLE, FLA. – Led by a stirring performance from the 400-medley relay team, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback swimming team continued to perform at an all-time best level at the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships in Gainesville, Fla., on Thursday.
Arkansas’ medley relay team of Mariann Fulop, Molly Muck, Emily Gregory and Zsuzsa Csobanki swam 3:47.54 to finish eighth in the event and pick up 22 points toward Arkansas’ team score. Each of the Lady Razorbacks swam lifetime bests in their respective events, the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle to miss the UA school record by a scant 0.08 seconds as they clocked the second-fastest time in UA history and fastest since the winter of 2002.
“The back half of the race was very exciting,” Arkansas head coach Anne Goodman James said. “Emily split 54.7 seconds and Zsuzsa went 49.9 in the free.”
Overall, the Lady Razorbacks ended the second day of swimming competition with 99 points to place them in a solid eighth position. Just 13 points out of seventh, Arkansas is within striking distance of seventh and even sixth position should they get a big day on Friday.
Two Lady Razorbacks qualified out of the morning preliminary sessions to compete in Thursday night’s finals action. The 50 freestyle saw 2004 Hungarian Olympian Csobanki qualify for the consolation finals while two-time all-American Whitney Lynn also earned a consolation finals spot in the 500 freestyle.
Swimming a solid time of 23.13 in the prelims of the 50 freestyle, Csobanki was just off the top five charts in UA history during prelims. The senior came back during finals and despite a miscue in her two-lap race still managed to record a time of 23.17 in the finals to place fourth in her heat and 12th overall for an additional five points.
“Zsuzsa swam another NCAA cut but missed her turn,” Goodman James said. “She made a phenomenal recovery to finish where she did.”
Wrapping up finals action was Lynn in the 500-yard freestyle. Already holding the top four times in UA history, Lynn was once again on record pace in the prelims and again during finals action, but missed by less than two seconds in the latter. Swimming a near season best in the finals at 4:51.49, Lynn capped off a long day of action with a 16th-place finish for another Arkansas point.
“Whitney advanced to the finals in the 500 and improved her time in the finals to make the NCAA ‘B’ cut again,” Goodman James said.
During preliminary action, junior Angela Kora, and freshmen Katie Borkovec and Juliette Burks each set lifetime bests in their respective events. For Kora it was the 200-yard individual medley where she cruised to the finish in 2:14.08. Kora’s teammate Fulop also had a good race finishing ahead in the standings with a time of 2:06.22.
While Csobanki was Arkansas’ star in the 50-freestyle, it was Arkansas’ freshman that showed promise for the future. The freshman pair clocked times of 24.51 and 26.70 for their personal records just behind fellow freshman Gregory who finished in 24.11.
The Lady Razorbacks continue action at the SEC Championships at the University of Florida on Friday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.