COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The LSU Swimming and Diving team enjoyed a successful start during the first day of competition at the Southeastern Conference Championships in College Station, Texas.
Junior diver Daniel Helm captured the bronze medal on the men's one-meter springboard with a season best score of 372.10. The Beaverton, Ore., native notched his second consecutive podium finish and is a threat to repeat success on the three-meter and platform.
"Daniel accomplished one of his goals today," Diving Coach Doug Shaffer said. "He wanted to go in and medal. It was a step in the right direction. The divers trusted our system and our process today. We went into the competition with seven divers and ended up with three finalists and two personal bests. One hundred percent of our divers scored. That is what we want to do in all of our events in swimming and diving."
After day one of competition and through six events, LSU men are in second place behind Auburn with 156 points. The women are tied for second place with Georgia with 151 points and trail Tennessee.
"First off, to start off the meet with two divers finishing in the top-eight, it puts the men in position to come in at night and be excited about their swims," Swimming Coach Dave Geyer said. "After great splits and great swims, it definitely puts us in a position to have a great team finish overall. It is day one. We still have four great days of competition left."
The men's 800 freestyle group of sophomore Frank Greeff, senior Craig Hamilton, sophomore Dillon Love and senior Nick Kunkel set an LSU record (6:25.67) and notched an NCAA 'A' cut in a 7th place finish.
"I know those four guys in the 800 free relay were a little short on that last year," Geyer said. "To dip well below the school record is a positive sign for them for the rest of the week."
Greeff's leadoff 200 free split of 1:36.48 was the third best all-time mark in program history and an NCAA 'B' cut.
The Lady Tigers 200 medley relay team of freshman Caley Oquist, junior Torrey Bussey, junior Rainey White and sophomore Amber Carter cranked out an NCAA automatic qualifying standard in a sixth place finish. LSU's time of 1:37.80 was four seconds faster than the season best.
"Caley Oquist, in her first swim as a freshman at the SEC meet, to have a phenomenal split and to put those women in a position where they can hang in that relay, was exciting," Geyer said. "Those three women put themselves in a position for a pretty good race."
The men's 200 medley relay squad of sophomore Michael Young, senior Andrei Tuomola, senior Raymond Depadua and junior Michael Saco earned a strong NCAA 'B' cut. The Tigers mark of 1:26.48 was a season best and .10 short of an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
Freshman diver Cassie Weil dazzled in her conference championships debut on the three-meter. Weil finished fifth in the event with a score of 327.70 after sliding into the finals after an eighth place finish in the preliminary round.
Junior diver Kevin Leong also made the finals of the men's one-meter, his first championship final of his career. The Canadian took eighth with a total of 314.15.
Stirrat's leadoff 200 free split of 1:48.24 is LSU's seventh best score all-time.
In the morning swimming time trials, freshman Taryn MacKenzie swam a personal best an NCAA 'B' cut in the 100 breaststroke. The South African notched an impressive mark of 1:02.32, and has two more opportunities to go faster.
In a race between five LSU competitors vying for a spot on the evening 200 medley relay, Oquist posted the fastest 50 back (25.19) time. Senior Chelsea Griffiths (26.15), sophomore Jennifer Reese (26.17), sophomore Katlin Sepp (26.29) and senior Jana Ruimerman (26.34) finished in order behind Oquist.
Senior Audrey Lawson narrowly missed out on an NCAA provisional mark in the 200 fly. Lawson's time of 1:59.67 was .08 behind the qualifying standard. The Erlanger, Ky., native also has two more opportunities to improve.
During diving prelims, sophomore Alex Bettridge garnered a ninth place finish and totaled a score of 313.15, which was .60 behind Weil and a shot at the championship final.
Junior Sean McKinney finished 14th on the one-meter with a score of 287.30.
Day two will begin tomorrow at 10 a.m. The teams will compete in the 500 free, 200 individual medley, the 50 free and the women's one-meter. Finals will begin at 6:00 p.m. (CT).
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 one:
Women's Team Standings - Through Event 6
1. Tennessee, 185
t2. LSU, 151
t2. Georgia, 151
4. Missouri, 141
5. Auburn, 132
6. Texas A&M, 130
7. Florida, 126
8. Arkansas, 118
9. Alabama, 110
10. Kentucky, 91
11. South Carolina, 65
12. Vanderbit, 62
Men's Team Standings - Through Event 6
1. Auburn, 196
2. LSU, 156
3. Florida, 149
4. Tennessee, 147
5. Missouri, 146
6. Texas A&M, 123
7. South Carolina, 107
8. Georgia, 103
9. Kentucky, 95
10. Alabama, 82