Jan. 29, 2005
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Lady Vol swimming and diving team fell to the No. 3 Florida Gators on Saturday, 145-93, in the final dual-meet of the regular season prior to the SEC Championships, which will also be held in Gainesville. With the loss, UT's final dual meet record stands at 4-3 overall, and 3-1 in the SEC, giving the Big Orange their first winning season in the conference since the 1990-91 year when the team went 5-2.
"We did what we wanted to do in terms of coming down here and standing up and racing against these guys," Head Coach Dan Colella said. "We are real pleased with the performances. This meet gave us a chance to get familiar with the facilities, as we get ready for SECs."
The competition began with the one-meter diving competition. Diving Coach Dave Parrington's depleted corps competed well in the event, as Lauren LeRoy (Oshkosh, Wis.) and Brittany Fulmer (Maryville, Tenn.) claimed second and third place, respectively.
"I am very pleased with the results," Parrington said. "Both competed very well under somewhat adverse competitions."
After the diving had concluded and the teams were introduced, the meet was ready to resume as the swimmers were ready to hit the water. The first swimming event slated was the 200y medley relay. Tennessee's quartet of All-American Jacque Fessel (Cincinnati, Ohio), Tiffany Clay (Indianapolis, Ind.), Christine Magnuson (Tinley Park, Ill.) and Megan Tomes (Cincinnati, Ohio) swam the fastest time of the year and the eight best in program history. The final marker of 1:43.56 helped snag second place and narrowly missed out on the NCAA "B" standard.
Julia Stowers (Knoxville, Tenn.) then made her first appearance in the pool, as she swam a collegiate-best time of 9:50.19 in the 1000y freestyle to propel her to first place. The time is the second-fastest in school history, and just missed out on topping Leslie Mix's school record (9:49.83). The win improved Stowers' dual-meet record in the event to a perfect 5-0 on the year. Ashley Yeager (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) also turned in a solid effort, posting a season-best clocking of 10:47.59, finishing fourth
In the 200y freestyle, Magnuson overcame Florida's Caroline Burckle down the stretch, touching the wall first in a personal-best and NCAA "B" cut time of 1:49.10. The time placed the freshman as the sixth-fastest swimmer in school history. Meanwhile, Stowers, fresh off her 1000y free win, finished third with a collegiate-best and also NCAA provisional time of 1:50.53.
Next, Jessica Blevins (Bluefield, W. Va.) and Abbi Terveer (Lima, Ohio) swam well for the Big Orange, finishing in third and fourth place, respectively in the 50y freestyle. Blevins' final marker of 24.41 was her third-fastest clocking of the year.
In the 200y IM, school-record holder Tomes posted another NCAA provisional time, touching the wall at 20:01.49 to take second place. Sophomore Elizabeth Christy (Indianapolis, Ind.) posted her second-quickest time on the year in the event, with a final showing of 2:10.06.
Tennessee's best swimmer in the 200y butterfly on the year, Betsy Brockman (Batavia, Ohio) did not compete in the event, leaving just two Tennessee swimmers entered. Julia Lutz (Lilburn, Ga.) finished in fifth place with a time of 2:10.85, her third-best effort on the year, while senior Elizabeth Wueste (Norcross, Ga.) clocked in at 2:12.97.
The freestylers then returned to the pool for the 100y event. Tomes and Magnuson both eclipsed the NCAA "B" standard, finishing in 50.97 and 51.23, respectively. Tomes' time was the second fastest on the year by a Lady Vol and earned her a second-place finish, while Magnuson's marker was the fourth quickest on the year, propelling the freshman to a fourth-place showing.
Next up was the 200y backstroke. Fessel blazed to a season-best time of 1:59.80, marking the first time that the junior has eclipsed the two-minute mark during regular-season competition. Her time was also an NCAA provisional qualifying marker. Yeager just missed out on her top time of the year (2:08.28) as she finished in 2:08.73. Meanwhile, Graciela Breece-Rodriguez (Boulder, Colo.) had a final showing of 2:09.20 in competing for the event on the first time this year.
In the 500y freestyle, Stowers would complete the sweep of the distance events. The senior had another NCAA "B" time (4:50.04) as she improved her record to 5-0 on the year in dual-meet competition.
After a long layoff, the divers then returned to center stage for the three-meter event. LeRoy notched second place with 228.52 points, while Fulmer claimed fourth with 221.17 points.
"Overall, I'm very pleased with their efforts," Parrington said. "They had to sit around and wait a bit, but it was good for us to be in the facility and get ready for the SEC Championships."
In the final individual event, the 200y breaststroke, Clay notched second place on the strength of a 2:20.54 final marker. Freshman Sallye Hartman (Gates, Tenn.) took fifth place with a time of 2:33.39
The meet would then conclude with the 200y freestyle relay and Tennessee's quartet of Terveer, Christy, Blevins and Fessel posted the fourth-best time on the year, finishing in 1:35.66.
The squad will now turn its attention to the SEC Championships in Gainesville, Fla., slated from Feb. 11-13 (diving only) and Feb. 16-19 (swimming only).