Feb. 10, 2006

Sophomore Octavio Alesi and freshman Barry Murphy have led the Tennessee sprinting contingent in the pool all season with recent accolades recognizing their superb talents.

"Our sprint corps dynamic duo (Alesi and Murphy) are swimming great at the time of year when you want them to start performing," UT head coach John Trembley said.

Alesi led the winning 300 butterfly relay as well as earning a win in the 50 free against North Carolina State Feb. 5. His efforts against the Wolfpack earned him SEC Swimmer of the Week honors for the period ending Feb. 6. Murphy swept both the 50- and 100-free events against Florida Jan. 28 to earn SEC Swimmer of the Week honors for the week ending Jan. 29.

"Octavio Alesi had a great meet against North Carolina State when he beat some of the best sprinters in the country," Trembley said. "Obviously he will be facing much of the same type of competition as we head into the SEC championships in our home water.

"Murphy has made many technical changes since his arrival," Trembley added. "He is certainly stronger and more savvy as a competitor. It will be interesting to see how he does at SECs next week.

The fact that both have and will be competing on the international scene has helped their bond grow in the few months they have been teammates at Tennessee.

"Barry is a good friend of mine, and we are in similar situations," Alesi said. "He represents Ireland, and I represent Venezuela. I am sure we are going to see each other in competitions down the road in various international events.

After the NCAA championships in March, Alesi plans on traveling to China to compete in the short-course World Championships. The fact that Tennessee offers both yard-length and meter-length pools was a large draw for Alesi. While at UT he can focus on NCAA events swam in yards, then focus on international events that are swam in meters.

The duo also has tentative plans to travel to the 2007 World University Games in Thailand to represent their respective countries and the University of Tennessee.

But first and foremost, Alesi is focusing on his efforts in Knoxville in preparing for the SEC championships followed by the NCAA championships.

Alesi has enjoyed the addition of Murphy as a natural rivalry has emerged between the two.

"Sometimes in practice we race each other, and, so far, we have about the same times in the sprint events," Alesi said. "It is really nice to have such a great competitor on the same team to help push you. He (Murphy) has a lot of potential and we make each other better.

When asked who has the upper hand, Alesi was quick to point out that they both have their various edges.

"In long-course events I think he may have the edge, but in short-course I believe I am a little bit faster," Alesi said with a grin. "But I believe he will perform well next week at SECs.

The SEC Swimming and Diving Championships begin Wednesday and run through Saturday at the UT Student Aquatic Center.





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