Feb. 19, 2010
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
ATHENS, Ga. - A pair of runner-up performances from senior Alex Barsanti and sophomore Jenny Connolly, as well as a school-record-breaking swim from junior Aleksa Akerfelds, highlighted the third day of competition for the 13th-ranked Tennessee women's swimming and diving team at the 2010 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday night.
Barsanti took runner-up honors with a career-best and NCAA A-cut performance of 59.97 at the Gabrielsen Natatorium. Her swim led a 2-3-4 finish for the Lady Vols in the event. Freshman Breanna Folk earned a bronze medal, and her first trip to the podium at the SEC meet with a third-place finish in 1:00.30, while Jamie Saffer took fourth in 1:00.36. Junior Martina Moravcikova added a sixth-place finish with a time of 1:00.91, as UT proved it had the most dominant breaststroke corps in the conference.
Connolly repeated as the silver medalist in the 100y back, touching the wall in 52.24, less than half a second behind three-time conference champion Gemma Spofforth (50.91), of Florida. Connolly recorded a season-best and NCAA A-cut performance of 52.10 to enter the finals as the No. 1 qualifier in the event.
Akerfelds kicked off Friday night's finals session by breaking her own UT record in the 400y IM, placing seventh in the event with a readout of 4:12.86. Her performance is an NCAA B-cut and breaks her old record of 4:13.12 set at the 2008 conference meet.
"It was a great session for us," Lady Vol head coach Matt Kredich said. "I thought we competed well all night. I thought Jenny did a great job of coming back in the 100 back after making a few mistakes in the 100 fly. The breaststrokers were phenomenal. They all did a great job. Aleksa breaking her school record was really exciting.
"I'm just really impressed with our team's resilience. There hasn't been a meet without disappoints but they just keep fighting and bouncing back. All in all it was great evening for us."
The Lady Vols remain in fourth place with 321 points. No. 1 Georgia, the meet host, will take a comfortable lead into Saturday's final two sessions, as the Bulldogs have tallied 555 points. No. 6 Florida (466) and No. 8 Auburn (392) are in second and third, respectively. No. 25 LSU (205) sits in fifth and Alabama is sixth (191).
The times by Folk and Moravcikova in the 100y breast were career-bests, while Saffer's mark was a season-best. All three marks were B-cuts. Sophomore Samara Gelb also competed in the 100y breast consolation final, placing 13th overall with a season-best and B-cut time (1:02.09).
Auburn sophomore Micah Lawrence broke Saffer's SEC Championships record (59.79) set last year en route to winning the event in 59.29.
Barsanti and Connolly capped the night by teaming with senior Michele King and freshman Kelsey Floyd to take fourth in the 400y medley relay. The quartet's time of 3:34.40 is a B-cut and the second fastest readout ever recorded by the Lady Vols.
Connolly also competed in the 100y fly and came into the final as the No. 2 seed after clocking a career-best readout of 52.76 in the prelims. She finished seventh in a top-to-bottom close final, however, with a mark of 53.09. She bounced back about an hour later to earn her second straight runner-up in the 100y back.
Floyd won the consolation final in the 100y fly to place ninth in the event with a season-best time of 53.28. Classmate Brooke Watson wasn't far behind, finishing 12th with a time of 54.48. All three Lady Vol marks were B-cuts.
Juniors Morgan Farrell and Tricia Weaner swept the first two spots in the 100y back `B' final, placing ninth and 10th, overall. Farrell's time of 54.16 and Weaner's 54.21 clocking are both season-bests and B-cuts.
Auburn's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace captured the 100y fly crown, touching the wall in 52.55, while Florida's Teresa Crippen took the gold in the 400y IM with a time of 4:05.07.
The Tigers cruised to victory in the 400y medley relay with a 3:31.83 performance.
The final day of competition begins with 10 a.m. prelims. Finals will begin at 6 p.m. Barsanti (200y breast), King (100y free) and Floyd (200y back) should all be in contention for gold medals on Saturday.
Live results and live video of Saturday's events at the 2010 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships can be found at georgiadogs.com.