COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The LSU Swimming and Diving team sent three athletes to the championship finals during the second day of competition at the Southeastern Conference Championships.
Seniors Craig Hamilton and Andrei Tuomola and sophomore Alex Bettridge each earned a spot in the top-eight.
"We just have to swim fast," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "We need to be perfect in the morning to get that opportunity to swim at night. We learned that this morning. We had a couple of swims that were not as sharp as they needed to be. We try to get stronger each day. It is a long meet. It is the first full day we have been there. It is all about containing those emotions and making sure you keep enough gas in your tank for your events later in the meet."
Through two days, LSU men's team is in sixth place with 272.5 points, which is only 16 points behind Texas A&M. The Lady Tigers are in fifth place with 277 points.
Sophomore diver Alex Bettridge pulled out a fourth place finish on the one-meter with a score of 301.85 after qualifying fourth in the prelims. Bettridge finished sixth in the event in her rookie campaign as well.
All four of the women divers scored points on the one-meter after all scoring on the three-meter in the first day of competition. The Lady Tiger divers accumulated 60 points, which was tied for the most points from any one diving team.
"I couldn't be happier with their performance," Diving Coach Doug Shaffer said. "Elle Schmidt had her highest SEC place finish. Cassie Weil and Allie Alter added valuable points to our team scores. Alex Bettridge got into her second career championship final on the one-meter. She performed really well and competed really well. She was neck and neck with the field. We were just a little short of the podium, but I am proud of her accomplishment and the way she represented LSU."
Schmidt totaled 282.75 in 10th, which was the highest conference finish for the senior. Weil scored a 270.90 in 13th and Alter scored a 247.55 in 22nd.
Hamilton turned on the jets late in the 500 free to catch his nearest competitor and finish sixth in the event with a time of 4:19.57, which is an NCAA 'B' cut. Hamilton finished sixth in the 500 free with a time of 4:22.01 last season.
Tuomola nailed a fifth place swim in the 50 free with a time of 19.76. His finish is his highest SEC finish in the event.
Tuomola qualified for the championship final of the 50 free after a blistering mark of 19.60. Tuomola's time placed him second all-time in the program annals, gave him an NCAA 'B' cut and seeded him third in the final.
"At this meet it is about making the performance and putting yourself in position to be top-eight or top-16 at night," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "Both Craig and Andrei had phenomenal swims this morning to put themselves in position to score big points for us at night."
The men's 200 free relay team of Tuomola, junior Michael Saco and sophomores Michael Young and Frank Greeff swam an NCAA 'B' cut time of 1:18.61 and finished fifth. Tuomola matched his career low that he set in the prelims with a 50 free lead off split of 19.60.
Junior Torrey Bussey finished sixth in the consolation final of the 200 IM with a time of 1:59.67. Bussey was seeded first after an NCAA 'B' cut time of 1:58.54.
Sophomore Amber Carter raced to seventh in the 'B' final of the 50 free with a time of 22.71. The Houston, Texas native swam LSU's fifth best all-time 50 free of 22.58 in the prelims. Her time was an NCAA 'B' cut.
The women's 200 free relay foursome of Carter, junior Rainey White, Bussey and senior Sally Wood posted a time of 1:32.15. Carter notched a 50 free leadoff split of 22.76.
Junior Michael Saco went fifth in the consolation final of the 50 free with a time of 20.05 after taking
11th in the prelims with a time of 19.97, which was an NCAA 'B' cut.
Senior Nick Kunekl swam a 200 IM 'C' final time of 1:48.14 after registering LSU's fourth best all-time mark of 1:48.10 and an NCAA 'B' cut in the prelims.
Senior Sara Haley swam in the 'C' final of the 500 free time and posted a time of 4:55.90. The El Dorado Hills, Calf., native cranked out a time of 4:52.42 in the prelims, which was a season best by over nine seconds.
Senior Zack Wepasnick notched LSU's eighth best all-time 200 IM (1:49.70).
Four other Tigers cranked out notable personal bests in the morning session- Sophomore Mathew Schaefer in the 500 free (4:30.36), freshman Megan Cox in the 500 (4:56.26, junior Shane Coltharp in the 200 IM (1:50.58) and freshman Caley Oquist in the 200 IM (2:03.63).
Prelims will begin tomorrow at 10 a.m. The swimmers will compete in the 400 IM, 100 butterfly and the 200 free. The men's three-meter prelims will begin tomorrow at 1 p.m.
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.
Scores after day two:
Men - Team Rankings - Through Event 14
1. Auburn University 417
2. University of Florida 412.5
3. Georgia, University of 372
4. Tennessee, University of, 300.5
5. Texas A&M University 288.5
6. LSU 272.5
7. University of Missouri 252
8. University of South Carolina 201
9. University of Alabama 187
10. University of Kentucky 153
Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 15
1. Georgia, University of 500
2. Texas A&M University 464
3. University of Florida 443
4. Tennessee, University of, Knox 429
5. LSU 277
6. University of Missouri 274
7. Auburn University 263
8. Arkansas, University of, Fayet 234
9. University of Kentucky 194
10. University of Alabama 161
11. University of South Carolina 129
12. Vanderbilt University 92