COLLEGE STATION, Texas-The LSU Swimming and Diving team performed exceptionally well in the evening session of the third day of competition and scored key points at the Southeastern Conference Championships in College Station, Texas.
After three days of competition, LSU's men sit in sixth place with 353.5 points and trail Tennessee and Texas A&M by less than 70 points. Florida is in first with 748 points.
The Lady Tigers are tied for sixth place with Missouri and have 297 points. LSU is only 56 points back of fifth place Auburn. Georgia is in first with 790 points.
"It is just about coming back tomorrow morning and getting those prelim swims that put us in position to swim fast at night," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "We are getting better in every session and swimming faster at night. It is a long meet. We are going to get better as we go along. I think we will see some phenomenal swims tomorrow and Saturday."
Junior Sean McKinney excelled in his first career championship final at the conference championships and nailed every dive on his three-meter list. The Springfield, Va., native totaled a score of 391.40, the second highest score of his career, and finished fourth.
"I've been saying all year that this was going to be Sean's breakout year, and we saw a glimmer of what he is capable of today," Diving Coach Doug Shaffer said. "It was a huge step for him to compete in an enormously competitive final. To almost break 400 points again was a huge step in his development."
Senior Craig Hamilton has been on fire throughout the meet and grabbed fourth in the consolation final of the 200 free with a time of 1:36.59. The Edinburgh, Scotland native's time was LSU's fourth best all-time mark and was good for an NCAA 'B' cut. The 200 free was one of the stronger races of the day, with 29 competitors earning NCAA provisional marks.
Sophomore Frank Greeff swam a strong 100 fly time of 47.16 and clinched fifth in the consolation final. The South Africa native's 100 fly mark was the program's third best all-time mark and an NCAA 'B' cut.
Greeff also took third in the 'C' final of the 200 free with a time of 1:37.21. Greeff swam LSU's third best all-time 200 free (1:36.48) in a leadoff split on Tuesday's 800 free relay, and has already earned an NCAA provisional cut.
"Frank pulled a tough double this morning and within 20 minutes he was able to make it back in the 200 free and the 100 fly," Geyer said. "He got a little bit more rest tonight between the events and was able to do that again. It was a tough double, but I told him after the race that this is what we trained all season for. He has the big 200 fly tomorrow. Craig swam a great final swim tonight. He said he didn't feel fatigued, so that is shaping up great for his mile."
Sophomore Amber Carter raced to third in the 'C' final of the 100 fly with LSU's eighth best all-time mark of 53.85. Senior Sara Haley picked up a time of 54.08 in the 'C' final. Both marks were NCAA 'B' cuts.
Freshman Danielle Stirrat picked up LSU's third fastest all-time 200 free time of 1:47.12 in a third place finish in the 'C' final. Stirrat's swim was an NCAA 'B' cut.
Senior Sally Wood registered a 400 individual medley mark of 4:17.43 in a fifth place finish in the 'C' final, which gave her an NCAA 'B' cut. Junior Kaelee Mader cranked out a season low in the 400 IM (4:21.48) en route to winning the first heat and earning the position of first alternate.
In the morning session, junior Shane Coltharp started the morning with LSU's sixth best all-time 400 individual medley time of 3:55.49. Coltharp's new career low was over 2.5 seconds faster than his previous best.
Junior Rainey White was the first alternate of the 100 fly after a time of 54.68. Freshman Caley Oquist carved out a career low of 55.76 to take second in the first heat of the 100 fly. Freshman Megan Cox threw down a personal best 200 free time of 1:49.12.
In the men's 100 fly multiple swimmers notched personal records- sophomore Michael Young-48.57, freshman Alex Linge-48.71, senior Timmy Dasinger- 49.17, freshman Grant Grenfell- 49.27, senior Andrew Muller-49.95 and senior Chris Mericas- 50.40.
Junior divers Daniel Helm (325.40-14th) and Kevin Leong (304.05-18th) both scored important points on the three-meter during prelims. All of LSU's divers have scored in the four possible events during the first three days of competition.
"We as a group had a good day, but we left some things in the tank," Shaffer said. "I told the men prior to the three-meter preliminaries that it was very realistic to have everyone in the finals. I believe that we have our two best events in front of us with the men and women's platform. We're just going to focus forward on that and end strong."
The athletes will compete in 200 fly, 100 backstroke, 100 breast, the women's platform and the 400 medley relay tomorrow. Prelims begin at 10 a.m. (CT) and finals begin at 6 p.m. (CT).
Live results and live video links can be found on LSUSports.net's Swimming and Diving schedule page. The SEC Swimming and Diving Championships will air live on ESPN3.com on Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT). The meet will air on tape delay on ESPNU on March 4, with the women's meet beginning at 3 p.m. (CT) and the men's meet beginning at 4:30 p.m. (CT)
Head to LSUsports.net/fancage to stay connected to the program during the SEC Championships.
Men's team rankings:
1. Florida - 748
2. Auburn - 630.5
3. Georgia - 549
4. Texas A&M - 426.5
5. Tennessee - 421
6. LSU -353.5
7. Missouri - 344
8. South Carolina - 314.5
9. Alabama - 270
10. Kentucky - 247
Women's team rankings:
1. Georgia - 790
2. Florida - 676
3. Texas A&M - 659
4. Tennessee - 557
5. Auburn - 353
t6. LSU - 297
t6. Missouri - 297
8. Arkansas - 280
9. Kentucky - 220
10. Alabama - 176
11. South Carolina - 148
12. Vanderbilt - 93