UK wins first SEC swim-dive championship
BY LARRY VAUGHT
While the UK men’s basketball team is not having the season most expected, the Kentucky women’s swimming team is having a historic season and won its first Southeastern Conference Swimming & Diving Championships last week.
The team broke five school records and produced 12 top three finishes to outscore traditional SEC powers Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
“We’ve been building this over a few years now. The alumni from years passed established it, our coaching staff, our administration. So many people had terrific efforts this weekend, it was really fantastic. I couldn’t be more thrilled for our institution and for our girls,” coach Lars Jorgensen said.
Riley Gaines (200-meter freestyle) and Lauren Poole (400 individual medley) both won their events along with the 800 freestyle relay team. Gillian Davey was second in the 200 breaststroke and 400 individual medley while Sophie Sorenson was second in the 200 backstroke.
Caitlin Brooks had third-place finishes in the 100 and 200 backstroke along with Izzy Gatti in the 100 butterfly and Kyndal Knight in platform diving. The 200 medley and 400 medley relay teams both placed third.
Gaines and Davey — who both set school records — both reached automatic qualifications for the NCAA Championship along with three relay teams.
“We got our trophy and we all jumped in the pool to celebrate,” Gaines said. “Last year we got to see Tennessee do it and had kind of been bitter thinking about their celebration. It was awesome that we got to do it.”
The celebration included Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart jumping in the pool with the team and coaches.
“He showed up for the last session Saturday night. We had no clue he was coming and it was super special,” Gaines said. “Just seeing him there was special but seeing him jump in the pool with us was so cool.”