Feb. 22, 2003
AUBURN, Ala.--The No. 12 Tennessee men's swimming and diving team finished fourth at the 2003 SEC Championships in Auburn, Ala. The Vols compiled 455 points, securing fourth-place for the second-straight year. Winning the competition was Auburn with 918.5 points. It is the seventh consecutive conference title for the Tigers.
"We had a very good day qualifying our guys for the NCAA Championships," head coach John Trembley said. "You come to a meet like this expecting your guys to do well. This has been a very good meet for us to prepare for NCAAs."
The Vol backstrokers continued the scoring effort by placing four swimmers in the 200 backstroke finals. Paulo Machado led the way with his fifth-place finish. His time of 1:45.39 was just slower than his personal-best time of 1:45.14, which he set in the morning's prelims.
"I had a great swim this morning," Machado said. "I am happy with fifth-place. I hope I can swim faster at NCAAs, around 1:44 low."
In the morning's prelims, sophomore George du Rand swam a lifetime best and an NCAA provisional time of 1:44.07, seeding him third for the night's championship final. Du Rand came out fast keeping pace with the leaders but faded with 75 yards to go and finished eighth in a time of 1:47.23.
"I wasn't expecting that time (1:44.07) at all," du Rand said. "I just wanted to set a personal-best. In the finals, my legs went dead in the last 100, but I was really pleased overall. I am looking forward to a good NCAA Championships."
Tennessee sprinter Renato Gueraldi was back in action tonight in the 100 freestyle. Gueraldi swam a time of 43.88, giving the Brazilian native fifth-place. Also scoring in the 100 freestyle was freshman Bryan Goldberg with a 15th-place finish. Goldberg's time of 44.74 in the prelims set his second lifetime best for the meet. Winning the event was Florida's Carlos Jayme in a new SEC record time of 42.89. Former Tennessee sprinter Ricky Busquets held the previous record of 43.01.
Michael Russo led the way for the Vols in the 200 breaststroke. Russo swam a personal-best time of 1:58.70, giving him sixth-place. His mark was also three seconds under the NCAA provisional qualifying time.
"Coming in I was hurting," Russo said. "Then I got in for warm-ups and I felt great. I went all out and am happy with my swim."
Finishing 14th was freshman Kiel Huston with a time of 2:02.81. Huston swam a lifetime best 2:02.53 earlier in the morning session.
Junior Jamie Graves improved on his best event, the 200 butterfly, by swimming a personal best 1:46.17. His NCAA provisional time was good enough for seventh-place.
"Before the race I spent time visualizing and I really thought I could go a low 1:46," Graves said. "It was such a relief when I looked up at the clock and saw my time. Now I will go back and continue training for the NCAAs."
Also scoring in the 200 butterfly was senior captain Jason Baxter. Baxter swam a time of 1:49.61, placing him in 14th.
In the championships longest event, the 1650 freestyle, du Rand swam an NCAA provisional time of 15:20.45. This season-best time was good enough for seventh-place. Finishing just outside the top-eight was Casey Dauw and Evan Nylander. Dauw placed 11th with a time of 15:33.14, while Nylander touched the wall in 15:34.89 (13th).
In the diving well, Tennessee used its depth to add to the Vols point total. Sophomore Sal Vilardo, who qualified for the championship finals, injured himself in warm-ups and could not compete in the finals. Freshman John Venditti, who qualified ninth, stepped up and dove in place of Vilardo. Venditti finished eighth with a score of 387.80.
"I was very proud of John's effort," head diving coach Dave Parrington said. "It was a shock to him that he would be diving the finals. For the short notice and under these tough conditions I think he did a great job."
Senior captain Jake Dorsey finished seventh with total of 404.45 points.
"I am a little disappointed for Jakes sake," coach Parrington said. "He didn't get off to the right start and was playing catch-up from dive one."
For the diving championships, the Vols had a high of third-place on both springboards and a high of seventh on the platform.
"Overall I am a little disappointed," coach Parrington said. "I felt confident that we would come away with a win on one of the boards. We will continue to train and sharpen up for the NCAA Championships."
For the swimming championships, the Vol swimmers set 26 new personal-best times in 11 different events, broke a school record in the 50 freestyle and had 13 swimmers with times under the NCAA provisional qualifying times.