ATHENS, Ga. – Seven University of Kentucky swimmers and divers advanced to the finals in seven events, including two top-nine finishes on the second day of the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships Wednesday evening at Gabrielsen Natatorium.
After a strong first day that saw two school record times fall and two fourth-place finishes, the Wildcats had another solid showing in front of 1,289 fans at the University of Georgia. Senior diver Greg Ferrucci, who finished fourth yesterday in the 3-meter dive, placed sixth in the 1-meter event Wednesday and senior Eric Bruck won the B Final in the 50 freestyle to finish ninth overall.
“I’m really pleased with today,” UK head coach Lars Jorgensen said. “We got off to a really good start in the 500 freestyle, and Kelly Berger was great. The three guys in the finals of the men’s 500 freestyle were phenomenal, and Eric Bruck was fantastic, as was Chris Lott. A lot of swimmers who have never scored before in the SEC Championships did so tonight, it was a combination of seniors and some up-and-coming freshman. I thought it was a great day for the Cats.”
The UK men are in ninth place with a total of 239 points, while the women are 10th with 156 points. Auburn leads the men’s standings for the second consecutive day with 574 points, while defending SEC champion Georgia has 577 points and is atop the women’s standings after two days of competition.
Ferrucci was sitting on the outside looking in after five dives in the prelims of the 1-meter. That’s when the senior put together one of his best and most clutch dives of his career with a 82.15 on his final dive to send him up the standings and into a tie for eighth place with a 335.25. In the finals, Ferrucci tallied a 384.50 to place sixth overall.
“Greg really battled hard today,” Jorgensen said. “After a shaky start in the prelims, he was phenomenal and made the finals.”
Bruck continued is strong performance at the championships with a season-best 19.47 to win the B Final and finish 9th overall in the men’s 50 yard freestyle. After a 19.67 in the prelims, he improved his NCAA B qualifying time and recorded the 11th-fastest time in the national in the event this year.
The 19.47 from the UK senior was also the third-fastest time in program history. Fellow senior Chris Lott tallied a third-place finish in the C Final with a 19.80, also a NCAA B time.
The first event of the finals was women’s 500 yard freestyle, where Berger, a freshman, placed fourth with a career-best 4:46.04 in the C Final to finish 20th overall. She advanced to the finals after a 4:47.37 in the prelims. Fellow freshman Kendal Casey just missed out on a spot in the 24-person finals with a prelim time of 4:48.72 to finish 25th overall.
Berger’s time, which is the third-fastest in school history, is also an NCAA B qualifying time.
In the men’s 500 freestyle, three Wildcats finished in the top 24 in the prelims and advanced to the C Final. In the final, freshman Brandon Flynn placed fifth in 4:22.68 to finish 21st overall. Sophomore Scott Crosthwaite came in just behind Flynn in the C final with a 4:22.76, while freshman Chris Grimmett-Norris was eighth and touched the wall in 4:27.97.
Junior Christina Bechtel missed out on a spot in the women’s 50 freestyle C Final by just 0.10 seconds with a 22.91 to finish 27th overall. Her time was an NCAA B qualifying time, a feat she also achieved earlier in the season. Freshman Morgan Contino also cracked the top 40, with a personal-best 23.51 to finish 37th overall.
The final two events of the evening finals session were the women’s and men’s 200 freestyle relays. UK’s men’s relay team of Bruck, Lott, Heidler and senior Lucas Gerotto finished ninth in 1:18.84, a mark just 0.01 seconds shy of an NCAA B qualifying time.
UK’s women’s relay team of Bechtel, junior Abby Myers, Contino and junior Kristen Wilson finished 10th in 1:31.59.
Sophomore Frida Jakobbson was UK’s highest finisher in the women’s 200 individual medley, with a 2:03.00 to place 35th overall. Freshman Kendra Crew came in two places behind, in 37th, with a time of 2:03.21. Both Jakobbson and Crew’s times were season bests.
In the men’s 200 individual medley, senior Will Heidler recorded a season-best 1:49.99 to finish 31st overall. Teammate George Greenhalgh placed 35th with a time of 1:50.44, also a season best.
The five-day SEC Championships continue Thursday with the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and the women’s 3-meter dive. Prelims commence at 10 a.m. ET, while the finals begin at 6 p.m. The diving prelims begin at 1 p.m.
On Tuesday, UK broke two school records, while Ferrucci and fellow diver Christa Cabot notched fourth-place finishes in the finals of the 3- and 1-meter, respectively. A full recap from the championship’s first day can be found here.
Fans can follow along with all the action from the University of Georgia with live results of every competition and a live video stream of the finals at GeorgiaDogs.com.
For complete news and updates on the Kentucky Swimming and Diving program, go to UKathletics.com/SwimmingDiving. Breaking news, behind-the-scenes updates, photos and more can be found on Twitter at @UKSwimDive and Facebook at Facebook.com/UKSwimDive.