UT Battles Top Teams in 2007-08

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ??? Fresh off its best NCAA finish in 11 years, the Lady Vol swimming and diving team will go head-to-head this season with seven schools which scored points at last year???s national championship meet. UT finished 10th at the 2007 NCAA Championships and seven athletes returned to Rocky Top with 26 All-America certificates.

???This year???s schedule is tough from beginning to end,??? Tennessee Head Swimming Coach Matt Kredich said. ???Every team we swim this year may finish in the top 25 at the end of the season, and five of them finished in the top 13 in the country last year. I think we can be good enough to win every meet, but our competition is going to believe the same thing, so I think we???re going to see some great battles this year. By the time NCAA???s roll around, we???ll know a lot about ourselves, and we should be ready to be very competitive.???

Highlighting the 2007-08 season is a trip to Auburn, Ala., Nov. 9-10, to face the defending national champion Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas Lady ???Backs. Kredich and company are used to seeing AU in the third meet of the year, as UT played host to No. 4 Auburn and No. 3 Stanford on Nov. 10-11 last year. The Lady Vols have not seen Arkansas in a meet since Jan. 17, 2004, when they took a 170-130 decision in Fayetteville, Ark.

???This meet will certainly provide another great test, as Auburn is the reigning national champion and Arkansas landed one of the top freshman classes in the country,??? Kredich said. ???This will be a two-day meet, which gives us a lot of races at a time when we are training at high volume. I???m sure, such as in last year???s meet, there will be a number of ???gut check??? swims.???

The Lady Vol divers will be taking a few trips of their own this year as they head to the Purdue Invitational (Nov. 16-18), Texas Diving Invitational (Nov. 29- Dec. 1), Georgia Diving Invitational (Jan. 6) and NCAA Zone Diving Championships (March 14-16) without their swimming teammates.

???I have selected championship format diving Invitationals at Purdue, Texas and the platform event at Georgia in an effort to compete against quality divers representing teams nationwide which will prepare us best for the championship season,??? Head Diving Coach Dave Parrington said.

???I expect to prepare the divers so they will be able to provide enough team points at both the SEC and NCAA Championships to help secure the Lady Vol swimming and diving team the highest possible finish we have ever attained,??? Parrington said. ???I believe the divers have the talent on the board to win one or more SEC events, qualify everyone for the NCAA Zone meet and to bring home some hardware from the NCAA???s.???

Once again, the fall portion of the 2007-08 campaign will begin with the Orange and White exhibition meet on Oct. 12 at the Student Aquatic Center.

???This meet is always fun but pretty low-key,??? Kredich said. ???It is going to be a highlight on our schedule because, for the first time ever, we are going to run it as a combined meet and have a combined score with the men???s team. I am sure we will have some great prizes for the winners. That meet takes place during what we call ???Family Weekend,??? so we hope to have most of the parents here to have a fun celebration of Tennessee swimming and diving.???

The regular season will begin with UT???s third consecutive season-opener against the University of Louisville. Last year, Tennessee hosted the Cardinals at the Student Aquatic Center and came away with a 187-113 win. The squad will travel to Louisville, Ky., looking to improve its streak of season-opening wins to 16.

???Louisville???s coaching staff is outstanding and they have built a program that has not only some NCAA level athletes, but really good depth as well,??? Kredich said. ???They certainly have the ability to beat us, so we look forward to that test.???

To start conference competition, both Kentucky and South Carolina will venture to Knoxville for a 3 p.m. start time on Oct. 26. UT downed South Carolina, 141-98, and Kentucky, 131-108, last year in Columbia, S.C. The Wildcats placed 12th at the 2007 NCAA Championships, while South Carolina tied for 36th.

???This is the last meet in the Student Aquatic Center,??? Kredich said. ???Both these teams really pushed us last year at the same meet in South Carolina, and we were fortunate to come away with wins. Kentucky turned around and beat us at SEC???s last year, so I know our athletes will bring a lot of intensity to that meet.???

The Lady Vols will be making their first appearance in Bloomington, Ind., since 2002 as they head up north for the Hoosier Invitational, hosted by Indiana University. The tradition of entering an invitational in the fall was kept alive last year when the team placed second in the Minnesota Invitational, over Nov. 17-19. This year, however, the swimmers will be the only UT representatives at the event, as the divers will participate in the Purdue Invitational (Nov.16-18) instead.

???This meet will give us the first chance to see our freshmen in a trials and finals meet. This format gives us a lot of swims over several days and will help give us some things to focus on over the next seven weeks, when we have no meets and focus exclusively on training.???

Indiana was right behind Tennessee in 11th place at the national championship meet last year. UT will also see the Hoosiers in their first dual-meet match-up in Knoxville on Jan. 20.

The Lady Vol divers will have another opportunity to compete away from their swimming teammates in the Texas Diving Invitational, Nov. 29-Dec.1. Parrington has not taken a group to Austin, Texas, since Jan. 5, 2000. Then on Jan. 6, they will head to Athens, Ga., for the Georgia Diving Invitational. The three returnees, Lauren LeRoy, Vicky Linnell and Staley McCartney, are familiar with the Gabrielsen Natatorium, as they dove there last year at the Bulldog Diving Invitational and NCAA Zone Diving Championships.

Tennessee will meet with Northwestern for the 13th consecutive time on Jan. 5 in Knoxville. The Lady Vols tied the all-time series with the Wildcats at six after last year???s 210-139 win in Evanston, Ill. Special to this meet, however, is that it will be the first event held in the new Allan Jones Aquatic Center.

The last two meets of the 2007-08 regular season put UT up against SEC powerhouses Georgia and Florida. While the Lady Vols dropped both decisions last year, 102-140 and 86-157, respectively, Kredich is familiar with the competition, having since faced each team at the SEC and NCAA Championships.

???Georgia brings in the nation???s highest-rated freshman class, and they already have a championship-caliber team. We are ready for another shot at them. Florida will also be in the national championship conversation this year. We can???t wait to have them here for our Senior Day.???

After almost three weeks of training and preparation, UT will head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the Southeastern Conference Championships on Feb. 20-23. The league championship meet occurs at the Alabama Aquatics Center for the first time since 2000, when the Lady Vols placed fifth. Tennessee claimed the no. 5 spot last year, as well, at the Lancaster Aquatic Center in Lexington, Ky.

???The SEC and NCAA Championship meets are the focus of our season,??? Kredich said. ???The competition schedule that leads to those meets is designed to help prepare us to be great at those meets. We feel that this year???s schedule will bring out the best in our team and help us be great at the end of the season.???

The national championship portion of the season begins with the zone diving championships in Auburn, Ala., March 14-16. The 2008 NCAA Championships are scheduled to be hosted by Ohio State University at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, March 20-22. The two-year-old facility consists of the Mike Peppe Natatorium and the Ron O???Brien Diving Well. UT will attempt to continue its ascension to the top of the leader boards after placing 12th and 10th, respectively, in Kredich???s first two years as head swimming coach.

Oct. 12Orange & WhiteKnoxvilleTBA
Oct. 20LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.11 a.m.
Oct. 26Kentucky/South Carolina*Knoxville3 p.m.
Nov. 9-10Auburn & Arkansas*Auburn, Ala.TBA
Nov. 15-17Hoosier Invitational#Bloomington, Ind.All Day
Nov. 16-18Purdue Invitational!West Lafayette, Ind.All Day
Nov. 29- Dec. 1Texas Diving Invitational!Austin, TexasAll Day
Jan. 5NorthwesternKnoxville10 a.m. & 5 p.m.
Jan. 6Georgia Diving Invitational!Athens, Ga.All Day
Jan. 20IndianaKnoxville10 a.m.
Jan. 26Georgia*Athens, Ga.11 a.m.
Feb. 1Florida*Knoxville7 p.m.
Feb. 20-23SEC ChampionshipsTuscaloosa, Ala.All Day
March 14-16NCAA Zone Diving!Auburn, Ala.All Day
March 20-22NCAA ChampionshipsColumbus, OhioAll Day

* Southeastern Conference opponent
# Swimmers only
! Divers only





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