Feb. 22, 2014
|2. Texas A&M||1204|
Lamp captured her third consecutive platform championship in impressive fashion. Coming off a shoulder injury, Lamp had not even competed on platform all season and then scored an SEC record 356.10 in the finals. She's is Tennessee first 3-time winner on platform.
Sean Lehane destroyed his own school record twice Saturday en route to winning Tennessee's first gold medal in the 200 backstroke since 1993. Lehane beat the field by more than a second in the finals, swimming in 1:39.64. He is the men's first individual champion since 2012.
Lehane broke his own 200-yard backstroke school record in the morning preliminaries and then improved his performance Saturday night, winning his signature event by more than a second in 1 minute, 39.64 seconds.
Later in the session, Lamp wrapped up her final conference meet by winning her third consecutive SEC platform title. The redshirt senior from Knoxville improved her score by more than 70 points from the preliminaries to win the contest with a score of 356.10.
The gold medals highlighted the day for Tennessee as the five-day meet came to a close. In the final team standings, the Tennessee women finished fifth with 780 points and the men's squad finished sixth with 713. The Georgia women retained their team title (1,589 points) and the Florida men (1,440) also hoisted the team trophy.
"We're in a great place as we head into NCAAs," Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich said. "We have very strong relays on both teams. We'll have them compete for top spots at NCAAs. Now our goal is to take some of the people who struggled this meet and take them to the last chance meet and get them a chance to improve their races. I think we can take a really strong team to NCAAs."
In other record-setting notes for Tennessee on Saturday night, freshman Luke Percy took silver in the 100 freestyle by breaking the school record in 42.22, and Molly Hannis improved her 200 breaststroke school record by taking fourth in 2:07.14.
The Tennessee women's 400 freestyle relay team of Faith Johnson, Harper Bruens, Kate McNeilis and Lindsay Gendron won silver just off the school record pace in 3:12.76, an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
Entering the night session, Lehane entered the race as the top seed and favorite after swimming faster than the rest of the competition by more than two seconds.
Taking off from lane 4, Lehane led from wire to wire, pulling away early and staying ahead of second-place finisher Sinead Russell of Florida.
"Sean's 200 backstroke was a great combination of execution and passionate racing," Kredich said. :For him to get on the podium, it's a huge deal, considering how competitive this meet is."
Lehane's teammates followed him to the awards podium, singing "Rocky Top" along with the music blaring over the sound system as . The Tennessee squad had waited all week to hear that familiar tune; the fight songs from the gold medal winning schools are played during the award ceremonies.
"It was incredible," Lehane said. "I felt all the energy from all my teammates. It was fun to be up on the podium and see all of them out there."
Lehane became the Tennessee's sixth SEC champion in the 200 backstroke and the first since Olympian Tripp Schwenk in 1993.
Lamp entered the meet as the back-to-back defending champion in the platform and a two-time SEC Diver of the Year. She enjoyed a banner 2013 year, eventually placing 10th at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona in August before injuries limited her training on the 10-meter diving tower.
Saturday was her first platform competition since that championship event seven months ago. She scored 283.95 during the afternoon session, but resolved to perform to her usual standards in the evening with all eyes watching.
"My mindset was pretty much that I knew how to do that dives," Lamp said. "I just needed to go up there and believe. Even though I haven't had the training, I've done them so many times before, I just had to trust that and visualize my good dives -- not necessarily what I did this morning -- to try to fix that."
Diving in the middle of the eight-competitor field, Lamp scored well on every dive to finish with an SEC meet-record score of 356.10 to edge out Georgia's Laura Ryan, who missed on her final dive and ended with 339.65.
Lamp is the third three-time platform champion in women's SEC history.
"Every single title is different," Lamp said. "My first year, it was just exciting because I was finally at SECs after working so hard to get there. Whereas this year, I've been beat up all year and not able to do the numbers on tower. To be able to get up there and do it without that, I was really proud of that. I want to thank my trainers and my coaches for everything they've done to get me ready for this."