March 30, 2013
|Men||1st Team||Hon. Mention|
|4. Southern California||289|
Lehane is already among the fastest backstrokers in UT history (he's already the record holder in the 200 back), and now he has some more hardware to show for his efforts. Lehane finished 11th in the 200 backstroke in 1:41.72 on the last day of his freshman year.
Rairden earned honorable mention All-America honors in an individual race for the first time since 2011. He placed 10th in the 100 freestyle in 42.92 seconds. Rairden was a workhorse for the Vols, competing in two individual races and all five relays. He earned five total All-America honors.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Between relays and his own races, junior Samuel Rairden swam the 100 freestyle four times Saturday to lead the Vols up the rankings on the final night of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
Rairden and freshman Sean Lehane both reached individual consolation finals and the Vols' 400-yard freestyle relay team ended the meet taking 12th to boost the Vols into 16th place in the final team standings.
Tennessee finished with 59 team points. Michigan won the national team title with 480 points, followed by California and Arizona.
Rairden said a team meeting to discuss goals after Friday's "less-than-spectacular" morning competition helped the young Vols turn the meet around. The squad responded that night with a seventh-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay to spark Tennessee's strong finish Saturday.
"Obviously, we didn't have the right focus when we came here," Rairden said. "We didn't really know what we wanted to do, but the coaches helped us keep focus in the last part."
A year ago, the Vols finished 22nd in the final team standings with 34 points. Only six of those points actually came from the swimmers as 2012 SEC Diver of the Year Ryan Helms and freshman standout Mauricio Robles provided the rest of the team result themselves in the diving well.
"We struggled at the beginning," associate coach Tyler Fenwick said. "We hadn't had many guys who have been here before. We had a low, low point to start the meet, but these guys showed tremendous characters and tremendous resilience the last day and a half. They've been on fire and I think they learned a lot."
For the first time in the meet, the Vols had individuals qualify for the evening finals. Fittingly, it was perhaps the two most consistent swimmers for the Vols during the championship season: Rairden and Lehane.
Lehane neared his own school record in his two swims in the 200 backstroke Saturday. He was 15th after preliminaries and then moved up to 11th in the final standings back taking third in the consolation race in 1 minute, 41.72 seconds.
Rairden had been a workhorse for the Vols all weekend, competing in two individual events and all five relays. He made the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle, where he finished 10th overall in 42.92.
"Sam Rairden really took the team on his shoulders last night," Fenwick said. "He led off that (800 freestyle) relay last night and led us to what's happened the last 24 hours. Sam's a leader and a fantastic swimmer, and everyone in the NCAA will be following him next year."
The Vols sent off lone swimming senior Ed Walsh with another honorable mention All-America honor. Rairden, Gustav Aberg Ledjstrom, Tristan Slater and Walsh took 12th in the 400 freestyle relay in 2:53.66.