Swimming & Diving Breaks Seven Records at SEC's

LSU's Cassie Weil was named Freshman Diver of the Year
LSU's Cassie Weil was named Freshman Diver of the Year
Patric Schneider
Seth Medvin
Seth Medvin

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The LSU Swimming and Diving program left the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships in College Station, Texas with seven new team records, two medals and three NCAA automatic qualifying cuts in relays, and now turns its attention to the NCAA Championships at the end of March.

"It is a good direction that we are going in," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "School records and top times show that we are making improvements in our program year after year. That is our goal. As far as NCAA selection, we've got to see how the individual selection goes and we will go from there. I feel good about our men's side as far as what we can take to the NCAA meet. We will take a look at results from around the nation and see where we are at with things."

LSU's men squad held off Texas A&M and finished the meet in sixth place with 753.5 points. Florida totaled 1408 and ended Auburn's streak of 16 consecutive SEC titles. Auburn came in second with 1196 points, followed by Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri.

The Lady Tigers ended SEC's in seventh place with 494 points. Georgia captured their fourth consecutive conference championship with 1420 points. Texas A&M came in second with 1296 points, followed by Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas.

Freshman diver Cassie Weil was named Diving Coach Doug Shaffer's seventh SEC Freshman Diver of the Year after picking up two top-eight finishes on the three-meter (fifth-327.70) and on the platform (sixth-271.85).

"It was well deserved. She was the top freshman performer of the SEC Championships," Shaffer said. "She had a top-eight finish in two events and scored in all three."

In the final day of competition, senior Craig Hamilton swam a fantastic mile of 14:53.10 and easily captured the fourth heat. After the final heat, Hamilton's time was good for fourth place. The Edinburgh, Scotland native's time was the sixth fastest 1650 freestyle in the nation this season and a strong NCAA 'B' cut. Hamilton sped through the first 1000 yards with a mark of 9:01.81, which was 19 seconds faster than his season best.

"I am excited for Craig," Geyer said. "I know that he didn't feel all that well throughout the meet physically, so I know we are just a little bit off with our rest cycle. A month from now we should be able to go into NCAA's and rock it."

Senior Andrei Tuomola tied the 100 free program record with a time of 43.22 in the prelims and finished eighth in the championship final (43.58). Tuomola's mark tied former LSU Head Coach Adam Schmitt's 25 year-old record and was an NCAA 'B' cut.

"That has been on our record board for a while," Geyer said. "There are three records from the 1988 SEC Championship team. That just shows you the strength of that team for those records to last that long. He has been eying three records on that board. He got one, tied one and we should have a shot at NCAA's to get them all."

It was Tuomola's third team record of the meet (100 breaststroke and 400 medley relay) and the longest standing individual record in the Tigers' record books. Tuomola was awarded a bronze medal for his swim in the 100 breast on the fourth day of competition.

In diving, junior Daniel Helm qualified for the platform championships with a score of 360.45 and ended his finals in fifth with a score of 352.90. Helm took bronze on the one-meter springboard on Tuesday.

On platform, junior Sean McKinney came in 12th with a career best score of 314.35 and junior Kevin Leong came in 13th with a score of 303.50. All men's divers scored points on all three boards.

"I know that he really wanted to medal and that is within his reach," Shaffer said. "I felt the men's platform came up a little bit short of what we are capable of doing, but that is ok. We are focused now moving forward at the NCAA qualifying meet and the NCAA Championships. We were successful in the SEC Championshipa. Now, it is behind us."

Senior Nick Kunkel posted LSU's sixth program record of the meet with a 200 backstroke NCAA 'B' cut time of 1:43.81 in the prelims, and proceeded to win the consolation final with a mark of 1:44.28.

Freshman Danielle Stirrat picked up LSU's 200 back record with an NCAA 'B' cut time of 1:55.21 and touched second in the 'C' final. Stirrat's swim was the Lady Tigers first women's record of the meet.

The men's 400 free relay team of Tuomola, junior Michael Saco, freshman Alex Linge and sophomore Frank Greeff went 2:54.18 for a season best, an NCAA 'B' cut and a fourth place finish.

Sophomore Michael Young clocked his 200 back in 1:45.64 and moved up to fifth in the program's all-time record book during the prelims. Young barley missed his top time with a 1:45.65 in the 'B' final.

Junior Torrey Bussey with a 2:11.89 in the 200 breast, picked up an NCAA 'B' cut and snagged fifth in the 'B' final.

Junior Ricardo Alvarado Jimenez notched a 200 breast of 1:58.03, moved up to fourth all-time in the team record books and finished fifth in the consolation final. Freshman Gabe Rooker ended his 200 breast prelim run with a time of 1:58.33 and finished seventh in the 'B' final (1:58.76). Both swimmers' top marks were NCAA 'B' cuts.

Senior Zack Wepasnick took fourth in the 'C' final of the 200 breast with a time of 2:00.70. Wepasnick qualified with a time of 2:00.50, good for 9th best all-time for LSU.

In the mile, freshman Jessie James swam a time of 16:49.82 for 18th place. Her time is LSU's seventh best all-time. Sophomore Matthew Schaefer delivered LSU's eighth fastest all-time mile of 15:37.42.

Sophomore Dillon Love registered LSU's sixth best all-time 200 back of 1:45.67, which was an NCAA 'B' cut, and finished third in the 'C' final.

Freshman Taryn MacKenzie turned in a 200 breast swim of 2:17.23. She is now ninth all-time for LSU. Freshman Alex Linge was the first alternate after a career low in the 100 free with a mark of 44.54.

The SEC Swimming and Diving Championships 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).

LSU Swimming will wait until the conclusion of every conference championships to see which student-athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships. Both meets will be in Indianapolis, Ind., at the IU Natatorium. The women's meet will begin March 21 and the men's meet will begin March 28.

LSU Diving will compete for a chance at qualifying for the NCAA Championships at the NCAA Zone 'D' Diving Regionals at the CRWC Natatorium in Houston, Texas on March 11.

For more information on the LSU Swimming and Diving Championships as the NCAA Championships approach, please visit LSUsports.net/fancage.

LSU Podium Finishes:
Men's one-meter- Daniel Helm (372.10)
100 breaststroke- Andrei Tuomola (53.02)

SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year - Cassie Weil

100 freestyle- Andrei Tuomola (43.22)
100 breaststroke- Andrei Tuomola (53.02)
200 backstroke- Nick Kunkel (1:43.81)
200 backstroke- Danielle Stirrat (1:56.76)
200 butterfly- Frank Greeff (1:44.58)
Men's 400 medley relay- Michael Young, Gabe Rooker, Frank Greeff, Andrei Tuomola (3:10.42)
Men's 800 freestyle relay- Frank Greeff, Craig Hamilton, Dillon Love, Nick Kunkel (6:25.67)

NCAA 'A' cuts:
Women's 200 medley relay: Caley Oquist, Torrey Bussey, Rainey White, Amber Carter
Men's 400 medley relay- Michael Young, Gabe Rooker, Frank Greeff, Andrei Tuomola (3:10.42)
Men's 800 freestyle relay- Frank Greeff, Craig Hamilton, Dillon Love, Nick Kunkel (6:25.67)

Final Scores:
Men Team Rankings:
1. Florida - 1408
2. Auburn - 1196
3. Georgia - 1024
4. Tennessee - 787.5
5. Missouri - 779.5
6. LSU - 753.5
7. Texas A&M - 709.5
8. South Carolina - 540.5
9. Kentucky - 452.5
10. Alabama - 541
Women Team Rankings:
1. Georgia - 1420
2. Texas A&M - 1296
3. Florida - 1190
4. Tennessee-1018
5. Auburn - 860
6. Arkansas - 594
7. LSU - 494
8. Missouri - 487
9. Kentucky - 386.5
10. Alabama - 353
11. South Carolina - 248
12. Vanderbilt - 183




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