Swimming & Diving Teams Finish Fifth at SEC's

LSU's Amanda Kendall
LSU's Amanda Kendall
Steve Moakley
Seth Medvin
Seth Medvin

BATON ROUGE -- Both the LSU Swimming and Diving men's and women's teams ended the 2012 SEC Championship in fifth place and with seven medal performers.

Auburn and Georgia repeated as the men's and women's champion for the 16th and third season in a row respectively. 

The LSU men's team finished the SEC Championships in the top-five in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1998-99 and 1999-00 campaigns. Similarly, the women have enjoyed the finest two-year run within the conference since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons.

"This is part of a growing program," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "You want to establish that consistency from year to year and then try to build on that."

The men's squad shattered last year's point total of 263.5 with a cumulative mark of 426. Auburn (730.5), Florida (700), Georgia (521) and Tennessee (459) finished ahead of LSU.

"We're a young and youthful team and we had two seniors who contributed this year," Geyer said. "Other than that we are not losing a lot of points going into next year. A lot of those freshman stepped up huge whether in relays or making finals. We'll continue on the recruiting trail and make up some ground there. It is great to see the men's team step up."

The women's team notched 347 points and finished behind Georgia (781), Tennessee (629.5), Florida (566) and Auburn (509.5).

"We're just really proud of the men and women because each individual that came to this championship embraced the culture of this program," Diving Coach Doug Shaffer said. "Tremendous individual success leads to team success when you put it all together. That is what we want to see with the program."

Alex Bettridge became Shaffer's sixth SEC Freshman Diver of the Year. She earned a bronze medal in the three-meter with a program best 366.85 and sixth in the one-meter with a total of 302.60, which was seventh best in the program. She also posted a 212.60 on the platform.

"The honor goes to the individual athletes that earn those credentials," Shaffer said. "It is nice to get that recognition though. We're bringing in quality student athletes to LSU that are performing at an SEC level. It is a great award for Alex. Her hard work and dedication was recognized in that way."

Junior Amanda Kendall grabbed her second silver medal of the SEC Championships. Juniors Craig Hamilton and Sara Haley and freshman Frank Greeff earned bronze medals.

They joined sophomore diver Daniel Helm, who took silver in the one-meter, Bettridge, who was third in the three-meter, and junior Andrei Tuomola who grabbed bronze in the 100 breaststroke.

Kendall earned silver in the 100 freestyle (47.97) after taking first in the prelims with a mark of 48.27. The Fairfax, Va. native received two individual medals for the second consecutive season and now has six total in her career.

Haley produced a bronze 200 butterfly swim for the second consecutive season. The El Dorado Hills, Calif. native delivered a program low 1:56.67. She also competed in the 100 fly consolation final.

Freshman Frank Greeff surprised the field with a bronze medal in the 200 fly (1:45.03) after putting up the seventh fastest qualifying time. Greeff was the only newcomer in the 200 fly final and his mark of 1:45.03 was the second fastest time in the program's history. Greeff finishes the meet with a B final performance in the 100 fly as well.

Hamilton delivered his second top-six finish of the meet after missing the finals in both of his events last year. The Edinburgh, Scotland native broke the 15-second barrier in the 1650 free for the first time in his career with a mark of 14:58.11, which shatters his school record. This swim came on the heels of his sixth place and program setting 500 free time (4:22.01) set on Thursday.

Ricardo Alvarado Jiminez and Sean Roddy competed in their second A final of the championships and finished fifth and seventh in the 200 breast. Alvarado Jiminez, who finished fourth in the 100 breast, set the program's second fastest time (1:56.98). Roddy also finaled in the 100 breast and moved into fifth in the program history with a time of 1:58.31 in the 200, a full second faster than his previous career high.

Junior Audrey Lawson finished eighth in the 200 fly with a mark of 2:01.29. She reset the program's fifth fastest mark in the prelims with a time of 1:59.42.

Junior Nick Kunkel (1:45.36) cracked into the championship final of an event for the first time in his career with his sixth place 200 back showing. His time grants him the third best mark for the program. Kunkel competed in two B finals as well during the week.

Junior Andrei Tuomola won his second bonus final of the event, the 50 free and 100 free (43.72). Earlier in the meet he won a bronze medal in the 100 breast. 

Senior Martin Jungfleisch closed out his LSU career with a 11th place finish in the 200 fly. His mark of 1:47.86 was a season low.

Sophomore Torrey Bussey ended her 200 breast run in 13th place with a season low mark of 2:12.17. She competed in two B finals in both breaststroke events and in the A final of the 200 IM over the course of the meet.

Three Tigers qualified for the bonus final of the 200 back. Senior Simon Diefenthal (1:45.06) and freshmen Michael Young (1:45.99) took first and second in the heat and freshman Dillon Love (1:46.72) grabbed fourth. Young moved into sixth in the program history books and Love slid into seventh.

Young finished his first conference meet with an A final in the 200 back as well. Diefenthal wrapped up his SEC career with two consolation finals appearances.

Junior Jana Ruimerman (1:58.41) and freshman Kaetlin Sepp (1:58.62) finished 13th and 14th in the 200 back. Ruimerman's mark was her season low and second top-16 finish of the event. Sepp's time places her fifth in the program's history.

Junior Ben Decker (1:58.71) took 10th in the 200 breast with the fifth best mark in program history. Junior Zack Wepasnick snuck into the program history books with the 10th best time (2:00.47) in a 15th place swim.

Junior Kaelee Mader made her first consolation final of her career in the 200 fly. Her time of 2.01.76 is the eighth fastest time in program history.

Junior Elle Schmidt finished the platform event in 13th with her career high 229.35, which is the fifth best in program history. Schmidt was a point scorer on all three dives.

The men's 400 free relay came in fifth with a season low time of 2:56.20. Tuomola led off the relay. Sophomore Michael Saco, Love and Greeff swam the other legs.

The women's 400 free relay came in fifth place with a mark of 3:19.43. Kendall followed by Haley, freshman Marlene Niemi and Wood led off the relay.

Athletes that want to improve their times prior to the NCAA Championships will travel to Athens, Ga. Next week for the last chance meet.

The divers will return to action on March 8 for the three day NCAA Zone D Regionals. The Lady Tigers will compete at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on March 15 in Auburn, Ala. The men will travel to Seattle, Wash. On March 22 for the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships.

The SEC Championships will re-air on Monday and Tuesday of next week on ESPNU beginning at 4 p.m. (CT).

For more information as the NCAA Championships approach, please visit LSUsports.net; follow @LSUSwimDive on Twitter or 'like' LSU Swimming and Diving on Facebook.

SEC Awards

Men's Coach of the Year - Brett Hawke (AU)
Women's Coach of the Year - Matt Kredich (UT)
Men's Swimmer of the Year - Marcin Cieslak (UF)
Women's Swimmer of the Year - Elizabeth Beisel (UF)
Male Freshman of the Year - Nicholas Fink (UGA)
Female Swimming Freshman of the Year - Amber McDermott (UGA)
Men's Diver of the Year - Ryan Helms (UT)
Female Diver of the Year - Tori Lamo (UT)
Men's Freshman Diver of the Year - Mauricio Roble (UT)
Women's Freshman Diver of the Year - Alex Bettridge (LSU)
Men's & Women's Diving Coach of the Year - Dave Parrington (UT)
Commissioner's Trophy - Marcin Cieslak (UF), Elizabeth Beisel (UF)




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