Feb. 20, 2014
|4. Texas A&M||382|
|3. Texas A&M||614|
Gendron captured the lone medal for the Lady Vols tonight, winning the silver medal in the women's 200-yard freestyle. She posted a time of 1:43.35, an A-cut time and a season high..
Rairden earned the first medal of the night for the Vols in the 100 butterfly, clocking in at 45.92. Besides earning a bronze medal for the Vols, Rairden now owns the top two times in this event in UT history, breaking his own mark set last season.
ATHENS, Ga. -- With six competitors in championship events and six more excelling in consolation races, Tennessee enjoyed its best night so far Thursday at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships.
Seniors Sam Rairden and Lindsay Gendron led the charge for Tennessee during the session by reaching the medal podium. Rairden improved his own school record en route to placing third the 100-yard butterfly, and Gendron earned a silver in the 200 freestyle in the last event of the evening.
After three days, the Tennessee women are fourth with 439 points and defending champion Georgia leads with 879. Tennessee's men are in fifth with 374 points, just eight behind Texas A&M. Florida is on top of the men's standings with 773.5 points.
Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich said the team as a whole upped its level of intensity and determination from the morning preliminaries to the final session.
"I think we really put a stamp on the day with intensity of racing and execution," Kredich said. "We're only two full days into a full meet, so we've got a lot of momentum heading into the second half of the meet."
Midway through the evening session, Rairden swam one of the best races of his career in the 100 butterfly. He improved on his preliminary time to take third in 45.92 seconds, an automatic NCAA qualifying time and the fastest in Tennessee history.
Gendron also swam faster in the finals. The defending champion in the 200 freestyle, Gendron clocked an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:43.35, just off her school record pace from last year. She finished second behind Georgia's Shannon Vreeland, who set an SEC meet record in a time of 1:41.83.
Not many Tennessee women's swimmers in history have SEC medals collections that compare with Gendron's. The senior leader has picked up two medals so far this week to boost her career total to 17 with two days to go.
Tennessee was well-represented in the 400 individual medley final on both the men's and women's sides to start the night.
Sophomore Lauren Driscoll, who transferred to UT from California during the offseason, reached her first SEC championship final. She finished seventh in 4:12.60, the third-best time in program history.
Fresh off his appearance in the 200 IM finals the day before, junior Tristan Slater finished eighth in the 400 IM. He was five one-hundredths of a second off the school record with a morning preliminary time of 3:45.56.
"We had people really get into the race in a determined way," Kredich said. "That's the kind of thing a team can sense. Once that started happening with the IMers -- Lauren Driscoll, Amanda Carner and Tristan Slater had great days -- it started snowballing."
Sophomore Sean Lehane ended the night for Tennessee with his first appearance in a freestyle championship final. Lehane had helped the Vols surge from sixth to third in the 800 freestyle relay earlier in the meet, and he showed that same skill in the individual 200 freestyle, placing sixth in 1:34.67.
In the diving well, senior Tori Lamp had an up-and-down day on the 3-meter springboard.
The two-time SEC Diver of the Year missed several 3-meter competitions during the season while recovering from a shoulder injury but had her best day on the taller springboard Thursday. After barely making the finals -- earning the eighth and final spot by hitting a few big-point dives midway through her list -- she scored her biggest total of the season at 343.05 in the finals, good for sixth.
"It was a little bit of a roller coaster, one good dive and not so good the next throughout the contest," Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington said. "I was really pleased with the way she scrapped to make the finals. She had to do some serious competing this afternoon. That's one of her greatest strengths: her competitive skill. It was great to see her in the mode."
In the consolation heats, Tennessee picked up a pair of wins from swimmers who greatly improved their times in the finals.
Sophomore Mary Griffith won the B final of the women's 200 freestyle (1:46.77) to finish ninth overall, and sophomore Gustav Aberg Ledjstrom won the C final of the men's 200 freestyle (1:35.43).
Freshman Camryne Morris had perhaps the busiest day of any competitor. She tied with sophomore teammate Carolina Finkbeiner for the final spot in the C Final of the 200 freestyle, so the two squared off in a swim-off to determine who would advance. Morris won the close head-to-head battle and then improved her time to 1:48.12 in the C Final to finish 22nd.
Women's 400 IM
Amanda Carner started the night off for UT on a high note, placing second in the B Final with a time of 4:11.52, almost half a second off her career time. Lauren Driscoll qualified for the A Final with some tough competition, but managed to earn points for UT by coming in seventh place with a 4:12.60 time.
Men's 400 IM
The Vols sent just one swimmer to the finals and he delivered with some crucial points, coming in 8th place (3:46.00). Tristan Slater entered the night swimming a career-high 3:45.56 in preliminaries, second-best in program history. This was the first time he has made the 'A' finals of both the 200 IM and 400 IM.
Women's 100 Fly
UT's lone representative in this event was Anna DeMonte, swimming in just her second 100-meter butterfly competition of the season. After swimming the sixth-best time in program history, as well as a career high, DeMonte came in eighth place with a time of 54.41.
Men's 100 Fly
UT claimed its first medal of the night, thanks to senior Sam Rairden. The silver medalist from last year, Rairden swam the 100-yard butterfly in 45.92, earning a bronze medal, as well as a new career-high and a new school record in Tennessee swimming history. In the C final, Luke Percy won a swim-off for the last finals spot and came in sixth place in 47.99, a new career high for the freshman.
Women's 200 Free
Shannon Vreeland prevented Lindsay Gendron from winning consecutive gold medals, but Gendron managed to win the silver with a time of 1:43.35, an A-cut time and season high. Mary Griffith came from behind in the final lap to win the B final, thanks to a season-high of 1:46.77. Camryne Morris swam in the C Final, coming in sixth place, with a time of 1:48.12, a career high.
Men's 200 Free
Sean Lehane followed up his 800-yard freestyle relay leg with a sixth place finish in the 200-yard freestyle. His time of 1:34.67 is a new career high, finishing the night for Tennessee. Gustav Aberg Ledjstrom swam a career-high time of 1:35.43 en route to a C final victory for the Vols.
Women's 3-meter Dive
In her second attempt to medal this tournament, Tori Lamp claimed the final qualifying spot in the morning session. Much like the 1-meter competition, a low score early in the finals put Lamp in a position which she couldn't fight back from. After missing much of the 3-m regular season due to injury, Lamp broke 320 for just the second time this year (preliminaries this morning was the first time), coming in sixth place with a 343.05 score.