ATHENS, Georgia and COLUMBIA, Mo. The # 3 University of Kentucky women’s swim and dive team had a dominant opening night of the 2021 Southeastern Conference Championships, collecting a gold and bronze medal in the first three events of the meet.
Kentucky won its first-ever title in a relay event, earning a gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay in 6: 58.58. It’s the fastest time in the country, while also meeting the 2021 NCAA Championships automatic qualifying time standard. Izzy Gati led the foursome in 1: 45.22, followed by Riley Gaines in 1: 42.44, then Kaitlynn Wheeler in 1: 45.15 and anchored by Sophie Sorenson in 1: 45.78.
Before that, the Wildcats earned a bronze medal in the 200 medley relay in 1: 35.87. It broke a school record, and it’s also an automatic qualifying time for the 2021 NCAA championships. Caitlin Brooks took the lead in the backstroke leg in 23.92, followed by Bailey Bonnett in the breaststroke leg in 27.26, then Gati in butterfly in 23.11 and anchored by Gaines who swam the freestyle leg in 21.58.
Three ladies divers took part in the 1-meter springboard preliminary rounds. Kyndal Knight, who had a lead in the event after the third round, finished in 12th place with a score of 268.20. From McKinley participates in its first conference championships and took 15th place with a score of 242.10. Morgan Southall, coming out of a season-long injury, finished in 29th place with a score of 216.75.
The second day of the 2021 SEC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships and the Men’s Diving Competition will resume at 10 a.m.ET on Thursday, February 18. A full schedule and links to stream the meeting can be found here.
Riley Gaines on the 200 medley relay …
“I think this record was really great for our team because it was made up of the same four people we had when we finished 11th last year. This year we finished third and beat so many other high-ranking teams in the NCAA, so that’s just how we’ve developed as a team and developed on last year’s weaknesses. So I think that gives us a lot of momentum for the rest of the race, especially the rest of the relay races. us a good start and good energy for the 800 freestyle relay. Caitlin (Brooks) threw an astonishing 50 backstroke split. I think all four of our relay splits were the fastest we’ve ever done. So on the whole I think it was a great relay together. “
Sophie Sorenson in the 800 freestyle relay …
“The kick-off with the 200 medley relay made us very excited and showed us what we could do. I think it was super exciting to end the note on a gold medal. I don’t know what we really expected, but then Riley (Gaines) finished her height and we were so far ahead, I knew we could do it, and getting my hand on the wall and seeing everyone celebrate was probably one of the most memorable moments I’ll have here. ”
Medal Count: 2
800 freestyle relay, 6: 58.58
200 medley relay, 1: 35.87
Number of school records: 1
200 med-r, 1: 35.87
Number of NCAA 2021 auto qualifiers: 2
200 med-r, 1: 35.87
800 freestyle relay, 6: 58.58
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