ATHENS, Ga. — Arkansas senior Yi-Ting Siow became the first Razorback swimmer to win back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles Saturday evening at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships inside the University of Georgia’s Gabrielsen Natatorium.
The 20th-ranked Razorbacks finished in sixth place with 262.5 points, after scoring 113 points in their most productive day Saturday. Arkansas finished just behind Alabama in fifth with 272 points and just ahead of LSU who finished with 262 points. Georgia won their seventh SEC Championships with a point total of 824.5 followed by Florida in second with 698.
“All I can say is wow,” Arkansas coach Jeff Poppell said. “We made one heck of a run from where we were after the first day of the meet. We came up nine-and-a-half points shy of getting fifth and we couldn’t have done anymore than we did. I am so proud of this group of girls. They have done a phenomenal job all year but especially at this meet. This is by far the best SEC meet we have had in the four years I have been here, even though we dropped a spot from where we were a year ago, we far out performed what we did a year ago.”
Siow won her second SEC championship, and second medal of this year’s event, touching in at 2 minutes, 9.23 seconds. The Malaysia native becomes the fourth SEC swimmer to win back-to-back titles in the 200y breaststroke since 1981.
“Yi-Ting has been phenomenal all weekend long and winning consecutive SEC championships, I think just solidifies her place in the history of Arkansas swimming and diving,” Poppell said. “She is easily the most decorated athlete we have had in our program and what she has done is going to be hard to top in the years to come.”
Arkansas junior Jamie Marks set a school record in the 1,650 freestyle on her way to a fourth-place finish. Marks’ time of 16:08.40 broke the previous school record of 16:08.42 she set at last year’s NCAA championships. Freshman Chelsea Franklin finished eight with a career-best time of 16:22.95. Other top-16 performances included Alison Templin (16:34.96) in 13th and Ashley Largo (16:38.77) in 16th. All four times represent NCAA provisional qualifying times.
Sophomore Liana Bugslag scored a 234.50 to place eighth in the championship finals of the women’s platform diving event. In the afternoon’s preliminaries, Bugslag posted a 254.65, breaking the previous school of 251.95 she set at a dual meet against Drury in 2009. Alex Roman scored a 202.35 to earn a 15th-place finish in the preliminaries of the women’s platform diving event.
In the final event of the night, the Arkansas 400y freestyle relay team of Sigrun Sverrisdottir, Siow, Whitbeck and Haskins posted a seventh-place finish with a time of 3:22.15, tying the school record set in 2003.
Razorback senior Leah Pierce stopped the clock at 2:13.03 to finish fourth in the 200y breaststroke. Arkansas junior Erin Neumann finished 15th in the consolation final with a time of 2:19.08.
In the consolation final of the 100y freestyle, junior Megan Haskins placed 16th with a time of 50.84. She posted a career-best 50.36 in the morning’s preliminaries.
Sophomores Lisa Lunkenheimer and Katie Whitbeck finished 11th and 16th, respectively, in the 200y butterfly consolation final. Lunkenheimer touched in with a career-best 2:00.03, while Whitbeck posted a 2:02.83.
In addition to the regular schedule of events, Razorback freshman Haley Smith and Dannica Brennan participated in time trials on Saturday. Brennan clocked in with a time of 1:58.71, breaking the previous school record 1:59.43 set by Babsi Auer in 2003. The mark also represented an NCAA “B” cut time. Smith posted a career-best 1:59.58.
Other career bests on the day included Katie Davis (2:02.03) and Haley Smith (2:00.03) in the 200y backstroke prelims along with Sverrisdottir (51.31) and Courtney Hubbard (52.21) in the 100y freestyle. Sarah Howard set a personal best in the 1,650y freestyle (16:44.95) and the 200y breaststroke (2:19.41).
Sophomore Jillienne Schilling touched in at 2:01.59 in her qualifying heat of the 200y backstroke. Junior Erica Totten posted a time of 2:01.52 in the third 200y butterfly preliminary heat.
In the four-day event, the Razorbacks broke nine school records, tied one and posted several career best times.
Arkansas will return to Athens to compete in the NCAA Last Chance Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.