Feb. 27, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Lady Vol swimmers will look to improve their times in various events this Saturday and Sunday at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center as Tennessee welcomes Kentucky, Louisville and Western Kentucky to the 2009 Championship Qualifications Meet.
Prelims begin at 10 a.m., while finals start at 6 p.m. both days.
UT has three individuals already automatically qualified for the 2009 NCAA Championships, which will be held March 19-21 in College Station, Texas.
Juniors Michele King, Jamie Saffer and freshman Jenny Connolly have each punched their tickets to Texas A&M's REC Center Natatorium after achieving NCAA 'A' cuts over the past few weeks. King hit the automatic mark in the 50y free during the prelims of the event at the SEC Championships. Her time of 21.89 ranks third in the country. Connolly swam three 'A' cut times in the 100y back at SECs with her best time of 51.34 coming as she finished runner-up in the event in the finals. She also ranks third in the country event. Saffer was the first Lady Vol to reach an 'A' cut this season, doing so in the 100y breast in a dual meet against Georgia on Jan. 24. Her time of 59.42 ranks fifth in the country.
"We're looking forward to this meet for a couple of reasons," Lady Vol head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. "It looks like some of our swimmers are going to be on the NCAA selection bubble for their events, so we want them to post faster times than they did at SEC's. Morgan Farrell's 100 back, Tricia Weaner's 100 and 200 backstrokes, and Martina Moravcikova's breaststrokes are all going to be close. Although I feel confident that our 200 Medley Relay will be invited, we're going to try another combination of athletes and see how that goes.
"We also have several athletes who are safely into the meet, and we are using this meet as a chance to practice their races and maybe swim some events that they did not swim last weekend," Kredich added. "Finally there are some whose performances last weekend were not what we were expecting, and this gives them another chance to finish their seasons with more satisfying swims."
The NCAA Championships usually takes around 30-35 participants for each event. Weaner currently ranks 41st in the country in the 100y back and 37th in the 200y back so she is very close to making the national meet cut. Moravcikova ranks 31st in the 100y breast and 33rd in the 200y breast, while Farrell ranks 55th in the 100y back.
Last season at the NCAA Championships, between 20-24 teams competed in each relay. The 200y medley relay currently ranks seventh in the country, while three other relays are also in the national meet mix: 200y free relay (5th in the country), 400y free relay (12th) and the 400 medley relay(14th).
King and Connolly appear to be good bets to make the NCAA's in other individual events, as well. King ranks 10th in the country in the 100y free, while Connolly is 17th in the 200y back and 23rd in the 100y fly. Saffer could squeeze her way into the meet in the 200y breast (36th) and the 200y IM (42nd), too.
Junior Alex Barsanti and sophomore Aleksa Akerfelds could also join their teammates in College Station. Barsanti ranks 18th in the country in the 200y breast and 40th in the 100y breast, while Akerfelds is 12th in the 1650y free and 29th in the 500y free.
Sophomore diver Jill Pierce will also compete this weekend as she attempts to get her NCAA Zone B qualifying score on the platform after coming up just 1.60 short of the 225.00 mark earlier in the season. She will compete at Georgia's Bulldog Invitational in hopes qualifying for the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships from March 13-15 at the AJIAC in the event.
"Jill has worked very hard this season and she deserves another shot to make the cut on the platform," UT head diving coach Dave Parrington said. "She was just off the qualifying mark back in November so hopefully she can qualify this weekend."