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Record swims for Braun, Mercer; Five in finals

Record swims for Braun, Mercer; Five in finals

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Five Razorbacks advance into the consolation finals on the final day of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championships at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday morning.

Haley Smith opened the morning with a school record-setting time in the 200 backstroke. The sophomore clocked 1:57.50 to finish 17th overall and third in her heat. The record was short-lived as freshman Liz Braun came up in the next heat and stopped the clock at 1:56.94. Braun now holds the 200 back record for Arkansas and goes into the finals in 13th.

"We had a great start this morning," head coach Jeff Poppell said. "I’m really proud of the swims we had and the three swimmers breaking school records, two of them freshmen."

Carly Mercer shattered the 100 freestyle record that was set by Leslie Johns in 2003. The freshman was fifth in her heat with a time of 49.99. The old record was 50.02. Mercer broke into the record book on Friday evening in the 50 free when she clocked the second fastest time in Razorback history. Mercer’s 100 free record is the first to make it onto the record list in the event in eight years.

Junior Katie Whitbeck and senior Erin Neumann also advance to the consolation finals after finishing ninth and 15th, respectively in the 200 butterfly. Whitbeck was ninth overall and finished fifth in her heat. Her 1:59.43 finish puts Whitbeck as the top seed going into consolation finals this evening.

With the record-setting swims also came two disqualifications for the Razorbacks. Senior Jamie Marks and junior Sarah Howard were each called out for a dolphin kick after a turn in the 200 breaststroke. Erin Neumann finished 18th in the 200 breast as the second alternate for the consolation finals. She finished in 2:16.61 while freshman Gabrijela Korac clocked 2:18.70 in prelims.

A year ago, Yi-Ting Siow earned her second consecutive title in the event and became the fourth SEC swimmer to win back-to-back titles in the 200y breaststroke since 1981.

"I was disappointed with the breaststroke this morning," Poppell said. "It is going to be a difficult task making up the points we need, but we have five chances in finals and six in the mile." Arkansas is eighth in the team standings after Friday night’s finals with 149 points. The Razorbacks are 30 points behind Kentucky going into the final swims of the 2011 SEC Championships.

The mile swims are set for 3 p.m. and finals will begin at 5 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Sports Category : Swimming & Diving (W)