BATON ROUGE, La. -- The LSU Men’s Swimming and Diving team will have seven swimmers and one diver competing at the NCAA Championships hosted at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind., from March 28-30.
LSU’s four individual qualifiers and eight total qualifiers represents the largest Tiger contingent competing at the NCAA Championships in the three years Swimming Coach Dave Geyer and Diving Coach Doug Shaffer have been at the helm. Eight competitors will have an opportunity to earn NCAA All-American status, which would be the most honors of this kind for LSU Swimming and Diving since the 1988 team finished in sixth place with 11 All-Americans.
“We’re going up there with eight guys, seven swimmers and one diver, and with a strong focus on relays,” Dave Geyer said. “I think we are in a good spot. We’re pretty light and having fun. It is a situation that if we swim the times we went at conference, it could be good enough to earn those second swims at NCAA’s. It is all about beating the majority of the field to finish top eight or top 16.”
Seniors Craig Hamilton and Andrei Tuomola and sophomore Frank Greeff qualified for the meet individually. LSU will swim in all five relays, and the individual qualifiers will be joined by senior Nick Kunkel, junior Michael Saco, sophomore Michael Young and freshman Gabe Rooker.
Diver Sean McKinney will be the lone Tiger diver after qualifying for the meet at the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Regionals on the three-meter with a fourth place finish and a 12-line total of 621.85. McKinney will dive on all three events at the national championships.
“Sean is ready and has done the prep and the training all year long,” Shaffer said. “Sean’s goals this year have been to final at the SEC Championships, qualify for the NCAA Championships and then score at the NCAA Championships. He has proven that he is on track to do that. I’m going to try and keep him focused. It is fully within his capabilities for him to score at the meet.”
Thus far this season, LSU men’s team has broken seven program records and recorded two NCAA ‘A’ cuts in relays. Six of those records fell at the Southeastern Conference Championships, where LSU finished in sixth place with 753 points.
Hamilton, LSU’s record holder in the mile and a four-time NCAA Qualifier, will look to wrap up his career with his first top-eight finish at the national meet. The Edinburgh, Scotland native has swam LSU’s all-time fastest 1650 freestyle over 10 times during his career, and set the current record last season at NCAA’s with at time of 14:45.94 in a 10th place finish.
At SEC’s, Hamilton finished fourth in the mile with the nation’s 10th best time of 14:53.10. Hamilton, LSU’s record holder in the 500 free with a time of 4:19.12, finished sixth in the event at SEC’s with a season low of 4:19.57 and will also swim in the event at NCAA’s.
Tuomola shattered LSU’s 16 year-old record in the 100 breaststroke with a mark of 53.02 in a bronze medal performance at SEC’s. In addition, Tuomola fell .03 seconds short of the program’s 50 free record with a time of 19.60 and finished fifth in the event at the conference meet.
In the prelims of the 100 free at SEC’s, Tuomola tied a 25 year-old record held by former LSU Head Coach Adam Schmitt with a mark of 43.22. Tuomola took eighth in the championship final of the event with a time of 43.58.
Greeff continued his ascent into one of the nation’s top butterfly swimmers at the SEC Championships and set the program record in the 200 fly (1:44.58) in a seventh place finish. The South African native also owns LSU’s third best all-time 100 fly mark of 47.16 and LSU’s third best all-time 200 free mark of 1:36.48.
McKinney broke LSU’s three-meter record with a score of 415.50 at the Auburn Diving Invite. At SEC’s, McKinney dove to fourth in the event with his second career best score of 391.40. McKinney scored points on all three boards at SEC’s, finished seventh on the platform at Zones and has set all of his career best scores this season.
“As coaches, we provide direction and support,” Shaffer said. “From our stand point, we just have to be patient. It is nice to see the patience follow through. Sean is starting to realize some of the potential that I saw in him as a recruit. I don’t think there is any coach in the country that doesn’t find that rewarding.”
LSU qualified a pair of relays with NCAA ‘A’ cuts and will be able to swim in all five events after earning provisional marks in the other three relays. At the conference championships, the Tigers broke the 400 medley relay program record (3:10.42) and the 800 free relay program record (6:25.67).
Depending on individual swims, Hamilton, Greeff and Tuomola will form relay teams with Kunkel, Saco, Young and Rooker.
Prelims will begin each day at 11 a.m. (ET). Finals for Friday and Saturday’s events will air live on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN 3.
For updates and more information on the program during the meet, please follow LSU Swimming and Diving on Facebook or follow @LSUSwimDive on Twitter.