Oct. 13, 2011
BY AMANDA PRUITT
From start to finish, the White squad never trailed en route to a 195.5-100.5 victory over the Orange team Thursday in the annual Orange and White Meet at Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center.
The White team won 15 of the 17 events and boasted a number of multi-race winners.
"The White team had a great victory, some real fine swims," Tennessee head coach John Trembley said. "Young guys like Ben Scheffer came to play today and Mans Hjelm did too. Ryan Harrison was good as he always is. Ed Walsh, team captain, swam a great race, anchoring the medley relay. Jake Epperson was good today, and young Tristian Slater swam very very tough. Sam Petersen swam well in the distance events.
"We had some good spots, some weakness and much to do before Indiana and Kentucky."
Upperclassmen weren't the only ones to help the White squad. Jacob Thulin added to the White team's point total by tying for first in the 50 freestyle and then winning the 100 butterfly. Ben Scheffer won both the 200 backstroke and the 500 freestyle two races later.
Senior Ryan Helms won the platform and 1-meter dives for the White team. Freshman Mauricio Robles won the 3-meter dive for the Orange.
The White team has now won four of the last five Orange and White Meets, with the Orange team winning narrowly 163-154 last year. The Vols are selected for either the White or Orange teams as freshmen and stay on that team for each annual meet the rest of their careers.
Tennessee officially opens the season Oct. 22 with a double dual match at home against Kentucky and Indiana beginning at 12:45 p.m.
"Today was a good learning curve, to see where we are right now in the program and what we can work on for next week," junior team captain Ed Walsh. "We did practice this morning really hard, and last night. So to get up and race was really good for us because we've got Kentucky and Indiana next week."
SEC Champion and All-American diver Michael Wright is gone, but that hardly means the Vols are without returning contributors on the springboards. Three of the Vols' four divers are upperclassman, including Ryan Helms.
Now a senior, Helms won the platform and 1-meter dives Thursday, both events he earned honorable mention All-American in last year. Fellow juniors and in-state divers Jordan Mauney and Brent Sterling are also back.
"This was a very encouraging start to the diving," Parrington said. "I wasn't able to watch much of swimming but from the diving end of things, I was really really pleased. We had some mistakes, we were ironing out some bugs, but that's what this meet is all about.
"Each of the divers did something that really impressed me today, and that makes be happy because we don't always get that at the Orange and White Meet."
The Vols one new face in the diving corps is freshman Mauricio Robles from
Parrington said Thursday was certainly a learning experience for Robles because of the format of a college dual meet -- and the Orange and White Meet in particular -- is strikingly difference from the typical international diving competition. In international meets, divers usually dive from one board each day, but on Thursday, the UT divers competed at all three heights.
Even with the new distractions, Robles still won the 3-meter competition.
"For him dealing with diving between swimming events, it's a whole new atmosphere," Parrington said. "It's going to take a little getting used to because we go right in the fire next week against two very quality opponents, and I think this will prepare him for that."
METERS AND YARDS
Robles wasn't the only freshman experiencing differences in the college sport. While he had to dive from three heights, many incoming swimmers had to perform some metric conversions.
College swimming is measured in yards, rather than meters. That change isn't just semantics: swimming 50 yards is shorter than 50 meters, and the collegiate course measures 25 yards.
While the team trains practically every day in UT's aquatic center, Thursday was the first time the freshmen had competed in a meet environment.
"It was good to see where our freshmen were because a lot of our freshmen are European, so that hadn't raced yards before," said Walsh, who himself hails from across the pond in London. "It was good to see how that could translate from long course to yards."
Thulin, from Taby, Sweden, was among the standout freshmen, winning the 100 butterfly and tying sophomore Troy Tillman in the 50 freestyle.
Scheffer did not travel nearly as far to swim at UT -- coming from Olathe, Kansas -- and he came up a winner in the 200 backstroke and 500 freestyle.
ONCE IN ORANGE, ALWAYS IN ORANGE
It might be a coincidence if the Orange team beat the White team five years in a row in the Orange and White Game every April in Neyland Stadium, but in the preseason Orange and White Meet, trends exist for a reason.
"Once you're picked as Orange, you're orange for your four years," Walsh said.
Walsh has worn the orange cap for the annual meet the last three seasons after he was picked for the team as a freshman in 2009.
The Orange and White teams pick the newcomers NBA- or NFL-style with a freshmen draft in the team room, but there's a catch: the loser of the previous year picks first or chooses to take both the second and third picks.
Walsh's Orange squad has gone 1-2 in his time at Tennessee. With his team winning the meet narrowly in 2010, the White squad got the advantage in the draft.
"I can say the Orange team didn't really strategize as well as they could this year, but we're going to improve on things and we're going to be better next year," Walsh said.
The White team has now won four of the last five meets, and Walsh is hoping to finish his career with a .500 record at the Orange and White.
Orange and White Meet
Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center
Final Score: White 195.5, Orange 100.5
Note: Results only; no times available
200 Medley Relay: 1. White (Rairden, Thulin, Prono, Harrison); 2. Orange (Hjelm, Paul, Tillman, Walsh)
400 Freestyle Relay: 1. Orange (Tillman, Johnson, McFall, Hjelm); 2. White (Harrison, Scheffer, Thulin, Epperson).