Ryan McCarble

LSU Travels to College Station for SEC Championships

Chris Heigle
Chris Heigle
Communications Student Assistant

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU swimming and diving teams are ready to jump into postseason competition with the SEC Championships starting tomorrow, Feb. 14, and running through Sunday, Feb. 18. The meet will take place at the Rec Center Natatorium in College Station, Texas.

“This is the part of the season we train towards and look forward to all year long,” said LSU diving coach Doug Shaffer, “It’s not just from September to February either, it’s a year-round process. At this point I believe we’re exactly where we need to be going into the competition, and it’s important that we remain grounded.”

The Tigers will be looking to sophomore Juan Celaya-Hernandez to stand on top of the podium throughout the week. The reigning SEC Champion on platform and SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year currently holds the best scores on both one-meter and three-meter in the SEC this season. His three-meter score of 482.95 at the Auburn Diving Invite in December was also a new personal-best and school record.

Having already competed at the Rec Center Natatorium for the Art Adamson Invitational, the familiarity with the environment will certainly serve as an advantage to Celaya-Hernandez and the rest of the diving team.

“We love going to Texas A&M,” explained Shaffer. “We competed there just a few months ago, so we’re familiar with the environment. If the environment of the SEC Championships doesn’t get you going, then you need to go to the hospital, because I’m not sure you have a pulse. There’s no competition like it.”

Junior Lizzie Cui will also be working to put herself on the podium after finishing the season undefeated in dual-meet competition. Cui also holds the third-best scores in the conference in both springboard events.

In the pool, LSU swimming coach Dave Geyer is not turning to one individual, but rather the team as a whole to come out of the SEC Championships successful. 

“From a coaching standpoint, it’s the most nervous time of the year,” said Geyer. “The work has been put in and the athletes trust the process, so we’re dropping our volume a little. The hard part for us is keeping our head in the game. Some of our swimmers swim their main event in the next day or two while others have to wait until Sunday, so we’re just trying to find that balance. I like a lot of the things I’m seeing in the water the past couple days.

For the men, it will be important for the team to get off to a good start, and the relays on Wednesday represent the perfect opportunity for the Tigers. The tentative 200-yard medley relay team of Karl Luht, Harry Ackland, Lewis Clough, and Joao Mescolote, after upsetting #9 Texas A&M, just three weeks ago, will be looking to do just that again.

“Those relays definitely set the tone for us,” said Geyer. “Those guys have a goal of making NCAA Championships in that relay, so the challenge of relays is if one leg is off, it can set the whole relay behind. If we have four guys behind that block ready to go though, we are excited. It’s always a good event to start the meet with for us.”

Junior Summer Spradley has the highest-ranked individual swim for the women, coming in at 11th in the 100 breaststroke at time of 1:01.07, and will be looking to better that time and make an A-final.

“Summer just needs to be Summer,” explained Geyer. “If she does what I know she’s capable of and takes care of business, the team will follow. We have a few days before she gets to that main event. But if she has a strong swim, it will certainly motivate the rest of the team.”

Fans can follow the meet through Live Results and livestreaming on the SEC Network Plus or through the WatchESPN app. Sunday’s finals will also be televised on the SEC Network beginning at 6 p.m. CT.

For more information and updates on LSU Swimming and Diving, visit LSUsports.net, like us on Facebook at LSU Swimming and Diving or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @LSUswimdive.

 

Order of Events:

 

Wednesday, February 14

Prelims: 10:30 a.m.

Finals: 4:20 p.m.

 

Women’s 1-meter diving

Men’s 3-meter diving

200 medley relay

800 free relay

 

Thursday, February 15

Prelims: 10 a.m.

Finals: 6 p.m.

 

Men’s 1-meter diving

500 freestyle

200 individual medley

50 freestyle

200 free relay

 

Friday, February 16

Prelims: 10 a.m.

Finals: 6 p.m.

 

Women’s 3-meter diving

400 individual medley

100 butterfly

200 freestyle

 

Saturday, February 17

Prelims: 10 a.m.

Finals: 6 p.m.

 

Men’s platform

200 butterfly

100 backstroke

100 breaststroke

400 medley relay

 

Sunday, February 18

Prelims: 10 a.m.

Finals: 6 p.m.

 

Women’s platform

1650 freestyle

200 backstroke

100 freestyle

200 breaststroke

400 free relay

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