KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- The 10th-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol swimming & diving team notched the program’s first win over Florida on Saturday afternoon, downing the second-ranked Gators in dominating fashion, 178-120, on Senior Day at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center.
Before the meet, the Lady Vols (6-1, 3-1) honored its nine senior, then went on to put on a memorable show, winning 12 of the 16 events, breaking five pool records, one Tennessee record and setting numerous season-best and NCAA B-cut times.
“I could talk all day about the way we performed,” Lady Vol head coach Matt Kredich said. “This is a really emphatic statement that the team made in who they have become and the way we are going to continue. I thought our seniors were magnificent in the way they raced."
"In talking about this meet, our seniors kept saying don’t do it for us. We want to swim well, perform well for the team. They didn’t say we have to beat Florida for the first time. They didn’t say do it for us. They said, lets perform. The times, the records were all a result of executing some really good race plans and bringing a lot of confidence and team pride to the meet.”
Florida (7-2, 3-2) had won the previous 25 meetings before Saturday, but the Big Orange broke that streak to give the seniors a memory they won’t soon forget.
“It is hard to put something like that (beating UF for the first time) in perspective,” Kredich said. “You don’t want to put 25 years of history on one particular team. The team knows they had never beaten them before and maybe there is some mystique about it.”
Tennessee was victorious in the first six events of the day, as the 200y medley relay squad consisting of senior Jenny Connolly, juniors Kelsey Floyd and Caroline Simmons and freshman Molly Hannis got
UT off on the right foot.
The quartet won the event in 1:38.72, which is the ninth-fastest mark in Lady Vol history, an NCAA “B” cut and a pool record. Senior Kirstyn Colonias, junior Abbie Alton and sophomores Kate McNeilis and Lauren Solernou placed third in the event with a B-cut clocking of 1:42.07.
Sophomore Lindsay Gendron grabbed the top spots in the next two events, the 1000y free and 200y free. Her 1000y clocking was a Tennessee record; bettering the previous-best readout of 9:40.65 set by Aleksa Akerfelds at last season’s Southeastern Conference Championships. The time also ranks second in the country.
In the 200y free, the Bloomington, Ill., product earned another B-cut time after touching in at 1:46.45. Sophomore Alexandria Frasier just missed obtaining a B cut by .04 seconds, finishing fifth in 1:48.33.
Gendron won her third individual event on the day in the 500y free after touching in at 4:45.37.
Four Lady Vols achieved B-cut marks in the 100y back, highlighted by Connolly setting a pool record in the event with a season-best and B-cut time of 52.83 seconds. Solernou finished runner-up with a mark of 54.14 seconds and McNeilis placed fourth after a readout of 54.94 seconds. Erin Gaeckle swam the event as an exhibition, finishing with the B-cut mark of 55.15 seconds, which ranks her 11th all-time on the UT performers list.
Later in the day Connolly broke another pool record, this time in the 100y fly. The West Lafayette, native claimed first with a time of 52.33 seconds that ranks as the fourth fastest NCAA time. Connolly’s mark topped Claire Donahue of Western Kentucky, who held the record of 52.83 seconds.
McNeilis claimed third in the event with a time of 55.87 seconds.
Having already owned the pool record in the 200y fly, Floyd shattered her AJIAC best mark in the event after a first-place, season-best and B-cut time of 1:55.27. The clocking is the sixth fastest in the nation, and betters her previous top time in Knoxville of 1:55.55, which came against Georgia a year ago.
Hannis became the fourth fastest Lady Vol to swim the 100y breast after her first-place and B-cut time of 1:01.15. Colonias also competed in the event and claimed third after a clocking of 1:03.07.
A native of Santa Rosa, Calif., Hannis also grabbed the top spot in the 200y breast by making a late surge in the final 25 yards to finish with a time of 2:14.35. Hannis was one of three UTswimmers to earn a B-cut time in event, as Samara Gelb claimed fourth (2:14.88) and Colonias notched fifth (2:15.71).
Three Big Orange swimmer notched B-cut times in the 50y free, led by redshirt sophomore Sloane Pitman, who grabbed second after a time of 22.85 seconds. Simmons and Alton claimed third and fourth respectively, touching in at 22.93 seconds and 22.99 seconds.
Pitman and Simmons nowrank ninth and 10th on the Lady Vol performers list. Florida’s Sarah Bateman won the event in 22.13 seconds.
In the 100y free, Pitman achieved her second B-cut time, touching in at 50.12 seconds in the 100y free to place second. Alton just missed achieving a B cut by .03 seconds in a third-place effort of 50.22 seconds.
On the 1-meter boards,Orange and White divers took spots one through three. Senior Gabrielle Trudeau won the event with score of 314.40, which was a career-best and ranks as the fifth-best dive in UT history.
“I’m really excited with Gaby’s performance,” UT head diving coach Dave Parrington said. “One-meter was her career best score and that’s always exciting, especially on Senior Day. For her to step up and really compete when she had to in the competition was fantastic.”
Redshirt sophomore Tori Lamp earned second with a score of 287.93, while redshirt junior Jodie McGroarty was one spot behind in third after accumulating a six-round total of 282.98. All three of the scores were zone qualifiers.
McGroarty made it a sweep for the Big Orange on the boards, winning the 3-meter event with a score of 326.70. Trudeau came in third with a tally of 307.80 and Lamp finished fourth after a score of 298.88.
“Tori was struggling a little bit today, so for her to be able to scrap and fight for every point was exciting to see," Parrington said. "Jodie was consistent on the 3-meter but we have some things we need to fix. As we get closer to the championship meet, some of the training that we will be doing will be geared towards sharpness and we’ll have some competitive style practices. I like where we are at.”
In the day’s final event, the 400y free relay, Tennessee put the finishing touches on a huge win as Connolly, Simmons, Gendron and Floyd combined for the event victory with a B-cut time of 3:21.43. The quartet of Alton, Frasier, senior Maddie Garrett and Pitman also recorded a B-cut mark of 3:24.08 to notch third.
Floyd and Pitman combined for second- and third-place finishes in the 200y IM. Floyd touched in at 2:01.32, which is a B cut, while Pitman finished in 2:03.51.
The Gators took the top two spots in the 200y back, but McNeilis claimed a B cut in the event aftertouching in at 1:59.04.
Tennessee will return to action at the SEC Championships, held Feb. 15-18 at the AJIAC. It will be the first time since 2006 that the conference championships will be held in Knoxville.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- In their final home dual meet at Allan Jones Aquatic Center, Tennessee's senior class took full advantage of their last opportunity Saturday.
The Vols seniors played a role in seven of the team's eight event victories, although 20th-ranked Tennessee lost the meet to seventh-ranked Florida 171-129.
"Overall, Florida is very deep, deeper than we were," Tennessee interim head coach Lars Jorgensen said. "We kind of knew that coming in. I think they're going to be the favorites in the SEC Championships in a couple weeks.
"I thought we competedhard. We kind of ran out of steam during the middle of the meet where theirdepth kind of showed up. I was really proud of the way they competed and the way they trained. We did everything we could and just came out short."
The final dual match loss was certainly not from lack of effort, particularly by the Vols swimming ordiving in their final meet before the SEC Championships, which will be hosted in Tennessee's home waters Feb. 15-18.
Seniors Ricky Henahan, Jake Epperson and Ryan Helms led the way for the Vols, taking first in a combined five individual events. Henahan and Epperson were also part of the winning 200-yard medley relay, while Henahan swam the anchor leg in the 400 freestyle relay.
The Vols remaining twoseniors, Carl Jones and Derek Paul also competed.
"I thought our seniorswere really excellent today," Jorgensen said. "Ricky Henahan was phenomenal was part of four winning races. Jake Epperson winning the 100 breast and Ryan Helms on the diving boards were excellent too.”
On the springboards, Helms turned in one of the best dual meet performances of his career. He swept the 1-meter and 3-meter diving competitions. He won the 3 meter with a career-best score of 442.35, which is the third-best total in Tennessee diving history.
Henahan, the 11-time All-American from Rochester, N.Y., clocked two individual wins of the day in the 100 and 200 backstroke in addition to being part of two winning relay teams.
"Going into the meet, it was my senior meet, so I had a lot of good emotions going into it," Henahan said. "I was pretty pumped up for it, and it was a pretty good day for me."
The Vols won three of the first five races, starting with their leading 200 medley relay team of Henahan, Epperson, Oystein Hetland and Ed Walsh, who touched the wall in 1:28.47.
Henahan won the 100 backstroke for the fifth time this season in 48.24 seconds. A few minutes later, Epperson swam his fastest 100 breaststroke of his final year in an NCAA B-cut time of 55.14.
From there, Florida started extending its lead by taking advantage of its depth. The Gators got 1-2-3 finishes in both the 200 butterfly and 500 freestyle.
Later in the meet, Henahan picked up his second win, taking the 200 backstroke in 1:47.28, his best time of the year.
Tennessee only non-senior to win an individual race was a first-year swimmer: freshman Tristan Slater from England. He won the 200 individual medley for the second week in a row. Jorgensen said as well as the seniors swam in their final meet, Slater has the promise to be one of the standouts for Tennessee in the coming years, alongwith sophomore Sam Rairden and others.
"He's going to be goodone day, he really is. I hope it's in a couple weeks. He's a really hard-working kid and versatile. He can do a lot of things. I was extremely proud of him in the 200 IM at the end against some really good Florida IM-ers. He's really one of our future stars on the team."
The Vols picked up a win in the final race of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, after Florida's top team was disqualified on a stroke infraction.
Helms showed both consistency and excellence on the springboards Saturday and swept both the 1-meter and 3-meter for the third time this season. He also pulled off the feat in the double dual match against Indiana and Kentucky and again on the roadagainst Louisville.
Helms won the 1 meter with a score of 386.17. Mauricio Robles was third (310.28) and Jordan Mauney was fourth (298.58).
On the 3 meter, Helms scored big with a 442.35, beating his previous career high of 426.30.
“I was really proud of Ryan today,” Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington said. “Sometimes on Senior Day you can get a little emotional and you’re not sure what to expect. But like has been his trait, he was able to manage his excitement of the day. It was a solid job on the 1 meter. He didn’t dive super well, but he was consistent and that was good.
“On the 3 meter, he stepped up the sharpness a little bit and there’s still more of that to come, which I’m excited about. No misses. Very consistent and excellent score on the 3 meter and a great way to go out.”
Sterling was second in the 3 meter with 359.63 and Robles was fourth with 345.08.