Swimming & Diving Hits Podium on SEC Day 2
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The LSU Swimming and Diving program wrapped up the second day of competition at the SEC Championships in Knoxville, Tenn. with fresh faces cementing themselves into the program's history.
Both LSU teams sit in fifth place following the completion of the men's one-meter dive, women's three-meter dive, 500 freestyle relay, the 200 individual medley, the 50 free and the 200 free relay.
"I can speak for the coaching staff, we've been really excited how the swimmers and divers have responded to the challenge of what is the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships," Diving Coach Doug Shaffer said. "The experience has been great and is played out with the competitiveness."
"We're half way through. We have two more days. We are definitely looking forward to the days ahead of us using the experience, poise and success that we've had in these first two days to carry us through and give us confidence going into the last two days."
The men have totaled 168 points and trail Georgia and Tennessee by 40 points. Auburn sits in first with 301, followed by Florida, the Bulldogs and the Vols.
The women have notched 176 points and trail Florida by 22.5. Georiga heads into day three with the lead over Tennessee, Auburn and the Gators.
"All around from top to bottom, we had great performances and lifetime bests," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "We had two swimming records and one diving record. We brought an energy to the pool deck this morning."
Kendall set the LSU program record with a second place performance in the 50 free with an NCAA 'A' Cut time of 21.92. She trailed only Auburn's Ariana Vanderpool-Wallace (the SEC record holder).
"Any time you've got female athletes going 21 under in the 50 free is a great performance," Geyer said. "To do that today, that is the stuff you are looking for. That is what is going to get you into the NCAAs. That sort of takes that pressure off of her, which is exciting."
Helm posted his one-meter lifetime best score of 376.55 in a second place showing, which placed him second all-time in the program's history.
"Honestly yesterday on the men's side we weren't as strong as our talent potential dictates," Shaffer said. "We talked about that in our men group and the men really come out strong today. They competed with their heart and really positioned themselves to be competing with the SEC's elite. Daniel was on fire and received a silver medal on the one-meter springboard."
Bettridge capitalized on her second final of the post-season and shattered her school record on the three-meter with a mark of 366.85.
"Alex has never shinned away from rising to the opportunity and today was just another example of that," Shaffer said. "She did what she needed to do in prelims to get into the finals. When Alex is given the opportunity to be competitive, she puts her Tiger game face on and brings it to a whole different level."
Also in the 50 free, freshman Marlene Niemi sliced her way into her first ever 'A' Final and finished 8th with a career low time of 22.56, which is fifth all-time for the program.
Senior Samantha Goates and freshman Amber Carter excelled in the B Final of the 50 free and the athletes earned 11th and 13th respectively. Goates registered a season low 22.81. Carter (22.95) now rests behind Niemi in the program history books in sixth place.
Junior Craig Hamilton broke his program record 500 free time of 4:22.01 in sixth place showing.
Sophomore Torrey Bussey ended her 200 IM run in eighth place with an NCAA 'B' Cut time of 1:59.77. Junior Sally Wood (1:59.93) broke the two-minute barrier for the first time in her career in a 12th place finish, and is now in fifth place in the program annals.
In the men's 50 free, junior Andrei Tuomola rebounded to take first in the 'B' Final with a season low of 19.75. Sophomore Michael Saco was close behind in 11th place with a career low and ninth best program mark of 19.92.
Juniors Sean Roddy and Nick Kunkel moved up to second and third respectively in program history in the 200 IM. Roddy finished in 12th with a career low of 1:47.82. Kunkel (1:48.38) finished in 16th in similar fashion. Both marks are NCAA 'B' Cuts.
Senior Matt Vieke catapulted his way into fifth place at SEC's and fifth in the program records on the one-meter with a career best score of 352.60. This represented the first time Vieke finished in the top-8 at the SEC Championships. Sophomore Kevin Leong finished in 15th with a score of 304.65.
"Matt Vieke got his first SEC final of his collegiate diving career," Shaffer said. "That was special to see Matt's hard work and dedication pay off."
Junior Elle Schmidt finished in 15th on the three-meter with a total of 287.60.
Competition resumes tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET with the 400 IM, 100 Fly, 200 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and the men's platform.
Kendall took bronze in last year's 100 fly with the second best mark in program history (52.14).
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