KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Arkansas sophomore diver Kesha Naylor placed fifth in the finals of three-meter diving and Arkansas had three swimmers score in the 500 freestyle on day two of the SEC Championships at the Jones Aquatic Center. The Razorbacks are in 7th place with 113 points and two days of the championship meet remaining.
Naylor dove toe-to-toe with the best divers in the country, and earned fifth-place with a score of 353.20, the second-best mark in school history. The sophomore broke the three-meter record earlier this season with a score of 360.60 against Penn State and Navy.
"This was one of the toughest contests I’ve ever seen in my life," said Arkansas diving coach Dale Schultz. "I couldn’t be happier with Kesha’s performance. She was steady all day."
Junior Chelsea Franklin led a strong pack of distance freestylers in the consolation finals during the evening. Franklin trailed only one swimmer for the entirety of the race, building separation from the majority of the field with the team’s fastest swim in the event this season. Franklin’s time of 4:42.91 earned her second place in the heat and 10th overall. It was the third-fastest 500 freestyle in program history, with the only two faster times also belonging to Franklin.
Senior Alison Templin also had a stellar 500 free with a lifetime-best 4:45.95, finishing 4th in the consolation heat and 12th overall. Templin improved her time from the preliminary heat by nearly three seconds. Nicole Menzel rounded out Arkansas’ scorers in the event, touching the wall in 4:49.63 for 15th place and her fastest swim of the year.
"I thought overall the 500 free was a fantastic swim for us," said Arkansas head coach Jeff Poppell. "First of all, to have three swimmers reach the finals was great. Then all three came back and improved their times in the evening. I think Alison Templin’s swim sets her up for a great 1,650 swim on the final day."
Naylor, who showed excellence on the three-meter board all day, finished 6th in the preliminary diving session with a score of 316.25. Senior Liana Bugslag just missed qualification for the finals, finishing 11th with a score of 301.20, just 2.40 points out of eighth place. Senior Alex House started out slowly, but earned a score of 53 or better on each of her final three dives to mount a comeback and score for the team, finishing with 287.45 points for 16th place.
Arkansas joined the host Volunteers as the only two teams with three scoring athletes in three-meter diving. Naylor was the first Arkansas diver to qualify for the three-meter finals since Madison Palmer placed eighth at the 2009 SEC Championships.
"The biggest thing about today was that we were able to generate some momentum," Poppell said. "We just need to carry it over into tomorrow."
Freshman Susanna White swam the first SEC Championships final of her young career, and finished the 200 IM with a time of 2:01.90 for 16th place to score for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas also received points from its 200 freestyle relay team, which finished 9th as White, Katie Whitbeck, Aubrey Hertzler and Lisa Lunkenheimer stopped the clock in 1:34.00 for the fastest Arkansas time this season.
The 2012 SEC Championships will continue Friday morning with the preliminary swimming session starting at 9 a.m. and the evening finals starting at 5 p.m. Diving will resume with the platform contest on Saturday. For more information about Razorback swimming and diving, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com