Feb. 17, 2012
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The Tennessee Volunteers collected five medals Friday at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships and made a little history along the way at Allan Jones Aquatic Center.
Sophomore Samuel Rairden reached two finals in individual events to lead the Vols in the pool, while freshman Mauricio Robles completed the first-ever Tennessee sweep of the diving gold medals at SECs, capturing the platform title with a career-best score.
With one day left in competition, the Vols are in third place in the team standings with 363 points, just one ahead of Georgia. Auburn is first with 535 and Florida is second with 515.
Rairden led the way as the Vols produced a 2-3 finish in the 100-yard backstroke in the evening finals. He recorded a career-best and NCAA B-cut time of 46.68 seconds to finish second, and senior teammate Ricky Henahan took bronze in 47.17 seconds, a season best.
Prior to arriving at Tennessee, Rairden had never competed in a national meet at any level, and almost two years later, the sophomore has become a solid, versatile performer in the SEC. He was the lone Vol to swim in the 200 freestyle and posted another career-best time of 1:35.89 to finish seventh.
In diving, Tennessee stamped the exclamation point on a historical performance. After senior Ryan Helms won the 1-meter and 3-meter titles the first two days of the meet, Robles blew past the opposition and recorded the second-highest score on the platform in Tennessee program history with a six-dive total of 438.35.
Once Robles reached the finals, no one came close matching to his performance. He beat second-place finisher John Santieu of Auburn by more than 50 points.
"I am so happy to win in my first SEC Championship," Robles said. "I was really calm and enjoyed the moment. It was real nice to win here because there was a lot of people here cheering for me. It is the pool where I practice every day and it feels good to win here."
Robles is just the second diver in UT history to break the 400-point score on the platform, and he has already done that twice as a freshman. He also picked up the bronze medal in the 3-meter springboard on Wednesday.
Before Friday, Tennessee had never won all three diving events in the SEC Championships. Steve Segerlin of Auburn last pulled off the trio of golds all on his own in 2007.
"We have had some great divers since I've been here, and even before, and never before have we won all three men's events," Parrington said. "To complete the triple was just awesome. I knew Ryan would be the favorite on springboards and I knew Mauricio would have a great shot on tower. Ryan had a great meet and maybe the emotions caught up with him a bit, but to win all three, what more can you do?
"It was a really special evening. Going back to the prelims, I felt pretty comfortable Mauricio was going to be able to make the finals. I wasn't 100 percent sure how he was going to react on the big stage, but I did know he was a gamer and right from the first dive I knew that it was going to be a great competition. Dive by dive I saw him grow confidence."
Aside from Rairden and Henahan, the Vols also recorded career bests and top times Friday.
Sophomore Renato Prono took the podium with a bronze medal in the 100 breaststroke after swimming a career-best time of 53.85. Senior Jake Epperson won the 100 breaststroke consolation final in 54.33, good for a ninth-place finish.
Freshman Tristan Slater continued the trend of career-best times, touching in at 3:48.51 in a sixth-place effort in the 400 IM. Slater reached the finals of the 200 IM the evening before and had produced NCAA B-Cut times in his two signature events.
"It was a great day," Tennessee interim head coach Lars Jorgensen said. "We had a lot of new people score high today. Tristan started off with a lifetime best and we had a lot of lifetime bests. Overall I thought it was a good day, it really was."
SEC Swimming and Diving Championships
400 IM: 1. Gomez Solaeche (FL) 3:43.57; 2. Dan Wallace (FL) 3:45.02; 3. Connor Signorin (FL) 3:45.86; 4. Peter Benner (UGA) 3:47.11; 5. Jared Markham (UGA) 3:48.04; 6. Tristan Slater (UT) 3:48.51; 7. Andrew Gemmell (UGA) 3:49.48; 8. Martin Grodzki (UGA) 3:52.90.
200 Freestyle: 1. Marcin Cieslak (UF) 1:34.49; 2. BJ Hornikel (UA) 1:34.81; 3. James Disney-May (AU) 1:35.03; 4. Tyler Reed (UK) 1:35.53; 5. Zane Grothe (AU) 1:35.80; 6. Joe Ziegler (UA) 1:35.87; 7. Samuel Rairden (UT) 1:35.89; 8. Drew Modrov (AU) 1:38.79.
100 Butterfly: 1. Doug Reynolds (UGA) 46.41; 2. Michael Arnold (UGA) 46.49; 3. Lucas Gerotto (UK) 47.00; 4. Cameron Martin (UF) 47.02; 5. Alex Coci (ALA) 47.17; 6. Chierighini (AU) 47.74; 7. Bradley deBorde (FL) 47.84; 8. TJ Leon (AU) 47.91 ... 12. Oystein Hetland (UT) 48.68 ... 15. Jacob Thulin (UT) 48.68.
100 Breaststroke: 1. Nicolas Fink (UGA) 52.81; 2. Stuart Ferguson (AU) 53.08; 3. Renato Prono (UT) 53.85; 3. Andrei Tuomola (LSU) 53.85; 5. Jimenez Alvarado (LSU) 53.91; 6. Matthew Elliott (FL) 54.14; 7. Sean Roddy (LSU) 54.26; 8. Chris Manning (AU) 54.29 ... 9. Jake Epperson (UT) 54.33 ... 11. Ed Walsh (UT) 55.07.
100 Backstroke: 1. Kyle Owens (AU) 46.09; 2. Samuel Rairden (UT) 46.68; 3. Ricky Henahan (UT) 47.17; 3. Max Murphy (AU) 47.17; 5. Cameron Martin (FL) 48.09; 6. Michael Young (LSU) 48.16; 7. Matthew Curby (FL) 48.85; 8. Brandon Siemasko (AU) 48.87.
Platform Diving: 1. Mauricio Robles (UT) 438.35; 2. John Santieu (AU) 382.10; 3. Michael Lewark (UF) 362.65; 4. Jordan Lesser (UA) 346.45; 5. Cole Miller (SC) 343.55; 6. Daniel Helm (LSU) 339.90; 7. Greg Ferrucci (UK) 333.10; 8. John Fox (UK) 306.20.
Men's Standings (through 15 events):
1. Auburn 535
2. Florida 515
3. Tennessee 363
4. Georgia 362
5. LSU 295
6. Kentucky 207.5
7. Alabama 175
8. South Carolina 152.5