UK’s Riley Gaines named WKYT Athlete of the Week

Gaines claimed six medals, including two golds at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships
Gaines claimed six medals, including two golds at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 2:45 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - “It’s something I train for all year,” said Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines. “This was my main focus of the whole meet individually was winning this race. I want to start moving on that second hundred where that’s typically the point in a race where a lot of people get tired. That’s when people will start to give up, and so all year, I’ve worked on developing that third fifty. That’s go time for me.”

Kentucky senior Riley Gaines was seeing gold after her first race at the SEC Championships, defending her 200 free title in a school-record time of 1:42.62 seconds. Her second race, the 200 fly, sent shock waves through the pool.

“Yeah, that one was kind of a shock,” admitted Gaines. “The girl who I was next to, she’s won the past two or three years, and she’s always a contender for a national champion, and so I knew if I could just stay with her, kind of just the same strategy as the 200 free, and get going on that third fifty I wasn’t going to let her beat me. That was kind of my goal, and I just stuck with it.”

Her time of 1:51.51 seconds was the fastest time in the country, setting a new SEC record and crushing the Kentucky school record in the event.

Gaines would also win a silver medal and three bronze medals in the meet, but her success wasn’t only in the pool. At the meet, she was named the SEC female scholar-athlete of the year.

“Just as much in the pool, we try to succeed in the classroom too,” said Gaines. “I think that award is super cool, and I think that’s just as cool as any of my other accomplishments this week.”

The NCAA championships in three weeks will be her final competition in the pool before taking on her next challenge, dental school.

“I’d like to end on a high note,” said Gaines. “I think that I’m done after this next month or so, but I’ve really enjoyed it. I think I’m ready to start moving on with dental school and stuff like that.”

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