March 20, 2011
By Todd Mounce, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
AUSTIN, Texas - Three remarkable Lady Vol careers came to an end on Saturday evening at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center, as seniors Aleksa Akerfelds, Martina Moravcikova and Tricia Weaner all played a pivotal part in the Tennessee swimming and diving team finishing 12th at the 2011 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
This weekend marked the fourth time in as many years that the senior trio made the trip to the national meet, helping lead the team to an unprecedented sixth straight top-15 team finish.
"This is the meet where we are held to the highest standard, so we have to be at our absolute best in order to perform the way we want to here," Lady Vol Head Coach Matt Kredich said. "We had a few moments of brilliance. We had a few moments where we made some mistakes but didn't suffer too much. Then there were a few races where we made mistakes and didn't get a second swim because of the level of competition."
The meet was ultimately a two team race on the final day for the NCAA title between California and Georgia. In the end, Cal having four competitors to Georgia's none in the 200y fly proved to be the difference, as the PAC-10 squad earned its second national championships, topping Georgia by 29.5 points.
The Golden Bears finished with 424 points, while the Lady Bulldogs, who won the SEC title, placed second (394.5). Southern Cal was third (351), Stanford fourth (272) and Arizona fifth (266).
The Big Orange had a tally of 148, which was its highest amount of points since 2008 at Ohio State. Tennessee also earned All-America status in 12 events.
"This was a powerful learning experience," Kredich said. "We have a great group of returners that I think learned a ton at this meet and my hope is we carry it forward into next year."
Competing in both breast events each season at NCAAs, Moravcikova saved her best act for last. The Prague, Czech Republic, native finished 16th in the 200y breast with a time of 2:11.96. Moravcikova will leave Tennessee as the fastest competitor in the 200y breast, as she etched her name Tennessee record books by setting a new UT record in the event with her prelim time of 2:10.31.
This weekend marked the first time Moravcikova ever reached a championship final at NCAAs, which she did twice, and earned All-America accolades. In addition to her 16th-place finish in the 200y breast, she grabbed 12th in the 100y breast and swam legs of the fourth place 400y medley and the 14th place 200y medley relay. She grabbed four A-A accolades, including a First-Team honor in the 400y MR.
"This time two years ago Martina really caught fire and for two years she has improved dramatically by working hard and busting her tail," Kredich said. "Having a senior score in two events and get on the podium in a medley relay really and set a school record really sets a great example for the rest of the team."
In this evening's mile, Akerfelds touched in at 16:10.33 to notch 30th. A native of Bronxville, N.Y., Akerfelds best individual finish at NCAAs came last season in the 1650y free, where she finished 15th.
Akerfelds entered this weekend's NCAA Championships with three A-A honors to her credit and earned one more in the 800y free relay by placing 11th. She has also competed in the 500y free, notching 40th with a time of 4:45.80. In addition, she holds leaves as the Lady Vol record holder in the 500y free, 1000y free and 400y IM.
"Aleksa is one of the few people I think in the country that embraces the mile as an event," Kredich said. "She loves it because it's challenging and she loves to compete. She ran someone else down in her heat and that showed her resilience and passion in the fact that she never gives up."
Though Weaner did not make it past the prelims, it doesn't discount the fact of what the Gettysburg, Pa., native meant to this team. Weaner competed in both back events this weekend and the 200y fly. On Saturday, the vocal leader placed 36th in the 200y back (1:57.19) and 43rd in the 200y fly (2:02.77).
Over the course of her career, Weaner notched two All-America certificates in relay events, including a third-place clocking in the 200y MR in 2009.
"The way each senior ended their career today exemplifies what they mean to the program," Kredich said. "Tricia is someone we have called on to do every relay, every event and is four-for-four in making it to NCAAs. To have her finish with two tough doubles really exemplifies her toughness."
The mile saw freshman Lindsay Gendron grab eighth after swimming a time 16:01.77. Her clocking was a career-best by almost six seconds and ranks second on the Lady Vol performance and performers list, only behind Akerfelds.
Over the course of the meet, Gendron earned six A-A honors, two of which First-Team honors, as she was on four relays along with the mile and 200y free.
Only a sophomore, Kelsey Floyd excelled in the 200y fly event all season and earned First-Team All-America honors by placing eighth in the event. The Lexington, Ky., touched in at 1:55.15 and earned seven A-A honors over the course of the three day championships to bring her overall total up to 11.
The Lady Vols closed out the national meet by placing seventh in the 400y free relay. The Big Orange quartet of junior Jenny Connolly, Floyd and freshmen Alex Frasier and Gendron clocked 3:15.83. The time is the third fastest in UT history.
In the 200y back prelims, Solernou touched in at 1:56.31 to grab 30th and McNeilis registered a time of 1:59.73 to notch 48th. Frasier was also UT's lone representative in the 100y free prelims and touched in at 50.23 seconds to place 55th. Watson finished 26th in the 200y fly with a mark of 1:57.68. Colonias took 33rd in the 200y breast with a readout of 2:12.68.
|Lady Vol 2011 All-America Performances|
|4th||Connolly, Moravcikova, Floyd, Gendron||400y medley relay||3:31.41|
|5th||Jenny Connolly||100y fly||52.14|
|6th||Jenny Connolly||100y back||52.22|
|7th||Connolly, Floyd, Frasier, Gendron||400y free relay||3:15.83|
|8th||Lindsay Gendron||1650y free||16:01.77|
|8th||Kelsey Floyd||200y fly||1:55.15|
|9th||Lindsay Gendron||200y free||1:43.75|
|11th||Kelsey Floyd||100y fly||52.79|
|11th||Gendron, Frasier, Akerfelds, Floyd||800y free relay||7:06.12|
|12th||Martina Moravcikova||100y breast||1:00.49|
|14th||Connolly, Moravcikova, Floyd, McNeilis||200y medley relay||1:38.77|
|14th||Connolly, Floyd, McNeilis, Gendron||200y free relay||1:29.70|
|16th||Martina Moravcikova||200y breast||2:11.96|