BY SAVANNAH BABCOCK
Get ready for some world-class swimming and diving on campus for five days. Here are the facts and figures you need for the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships.
Olympians will be in attendance as Tennessee hosts the 2017 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships from February 14-18. Tennessee’s very own Kira Toussaint, a senior from the Netherlands, competed for a medal in the 100-meter backstroke in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Other Olympians that will be in attendance, besides Toussaint, include two-time gold medalist Caeleb Dressel of Florida and gold medalist Olivia Smoliga of Georgia. These 21 Olympians represented nine different SEC schools and 15 different countries in the Rio Olympics.
Tennessee is hosting the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships for the 10th time (4 men's only, 1 women's only, 5 combined). Tennessee has not hosted the Championship since 2012 when the UT men took home fourth place, and women’s took home second place as a team.
The men’s swimming & diving team have placed in first three times while hosting the SEC Championship. The first time they hosted the championship in 1968 the team finished in second, but just five years later in 1973 they improved to first place. Just two years later in 1975, Tennessee hosted the SEC Championship and achieved first place again due to their team excelling in ten different events. The last time the Vols placed in first while hosting the SEC-Championship was in 1996.
The women’s Tennessee team has attained 60 SEC individual and relay titles since 1986. Karla Driesler received the first title in the 50 freestyle event. In the 2016 season, women’s swimming & diving added four more to their total: the 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay, and platform diving.
The Tennessee men’s team has achieved 211 SEC individual and relay titles since 1941. Billy King received the first two titles in the 1-meter diving event. In the 2016 season, men’s swimming and diving added two more to their total in 1-meter diving and platform diving thanks to Mauricio Robles.
Jim Kennedy holds the program record for the most individual SEC titles of any Vol, winning seven diving titles in his years here in Knoxville from 1973 through 1976. He received four titles in the 1-meter diving event and three titles in the 3-meter diving. He also accomplished a NCAA tile in 1-meter diving, along with All-American all four years while attending the university.
Six Vols returning to the SEC-Championship have earned All-SEC accolades. These athletes include: Liam Stone, Sam McHugh, Peter John Stevens, Madeline Banic, Rachel Rubadue and Kira Toussaint. Eleven are All-Americans:: Kyle DeCoursey, Joey Reilman, Ryan Coetzee, Sam McHugh, Peter John Stevens, David Heron, Madeline Banic, Rachel Rubadue, Micah Bohon, Madeline Tegner, and Kira Toussaint.
Seven members of the Tennessee swimming and diving roster are returning to the meet as former SEC medal winners. Madeline Banic and Kira Toussaint earned three golds last year in relays: 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, and 400 free relay. Liam Stone (3-meter), Peter John Stevens (200 medley relay), and Rachel Rubadue (platform) also received gold medals in their events.
Tennessee’s Sam McHugh and Kira Toussaint received silver medals in the 200 butterfly and 100 backstroke, respectively. Further, the Tennessee women’s swimming and diving also brought home four bronze medals achieved by Madeline Banic (50 free/100 butterfly), Rachel Rubadue (3-meter) and Madeline Tegner (1650 free).