KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Sophomore Kesha Naylor dove to a third-place finish on the platform, and sophomore Liz Braun earned an eighth-place finish in the 200 backstroke, to lead the Arkansas Razorbacks in the preliminary session at the SEC Championships on Saturday at the Jones Aquatic Center.
Naylor tallied 274.30 points in the preliminary platform competition two days after placing fifth in the three-meter finals. The sophomore placed seventh overall on the tower last year.
"I was pleased with Kesha’s performance," said Arkansas diving coach Dale Schultz. "She also missed a couple of her dives, so she’s got a lot of improving to do in the finals."
Naylor had the highest mark of three Razorback divers to score in the event. Senior Alex House earned 12th place with a score of 230.80, and senior Liana Bugslag was 14th, with 226.90.
Diving, which began early in the afternoon, was not the only event to see an athlete reach the A final. Sophomore Liz Braun continued her excellent week Saturday morning, setting the Arkansas record in the 200 back and becoming the first Razorback to reach an A final. Braun’s time of 1:56.68 broke her own record of 1:56.94, and landed her an eighth place finish.
With hardly any time to rest between sessions, Braun came back to swim the 200 butterfly and finished 13th overall with a time of 2:00.99. It was Braun’s fastest time of the year in the event by nearly four seconds.
"Liz Braun had a fantastic morning session," said Arkansas head coach Jeff Poppell. "To be able to qualify for the top eight and break our school record in the 200 back and then come back with a lifetime-best in the 200 fly, which is a very tough double, you just can’t say any more. Her performances this week have been stellar, and are all a tribute to her work ethic and commitment, which are second to none."
Senior Katie Whitbeck also reached the finals in the 200 butterfly, clocking 2:01.71 for 14th place and a spot in the B final. Senior Jillienne Schilling joined Braun in the 200 back to qualify for the B final, touching the wall in 2:00.22 for 15th place.
Freshman Susanna White swam the third-fastest 100 freestyle in school history with a time of 50.19, but missed an opportunity to move on to the finals by 0.01 seconds. White’s time was an NCAA B cut qualifying time.
"Susanna had a really nice swim," Poppell said. "She just took a breath inside the flag, which really cost her a second swim. I think she has an opportunity tonight leading off our relay to improve even more."
In the 200 breaststroke, freshman Taylor Temple swam a career-best time of 2:16.73 and finished 24th, but neither Temple nor fellow-freshmen Julia Banach (26th in 2:17.05) or Nikki Daniels (27th in 2:17.21) were able to earn qualification for the evening finals session.
Arkansas continues today’s swimming events with the 1,650 freestyle, one of its strongest events. The first heat of the mile race is set to begin at 2:45. The rest of tonight’s finals begin at 5 p.m. For more information about Razorback swimming and diving, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.