Jan. 14, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama swimming and diving teams opened the New Year by beating Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky. The Tide women beat the Wildcats 167-133 while the men bettered Kentucky 174-126. Both the men and the women both won nine of 16 events.
"We did a nice of job of finishing our races today," UA head coach Eric McIlquham said. "You look at it today and across the board there were a lot of races decided by one-hundredth, two-hundreths, three-hundreths of a second and for the most part we were on the winning side of those touches. It was good to see them step up and race. They really did a nice job and I'm proud of how we competed."
The women were led by sophomore Lauren Piper and freshman Kaylin Burchell. Piper won three events, the 100 and 200 backstroke and the 200 IM, while Burchell took first in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. The men were led by junior John Ellis, who won both the 500 and 1000 freestyle, and Alex Coci who took top honors in the 100 and 200 butterfly.
Alabama's women started off with a commanding win in the 200 medley relay when Piper, Burchell, sophomore Kristel Vourna and senior Ida Persson combined to touch the wall with a 1:44.36.
Piper won three events on the day, starting with the 100 backstroke where she finished with a 57.09. Piper also won the 200 backstroke with a 2:02.53 and the 200 IM with a 2:04.92.
Burchell kept her winning ways going in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. She took first in the 100 with a time of 1:04.47 and then took top honors in the 200 with a 2:21.60, just eight-hundredths of a second ahead of Kentucky's Jenna Willis.
Sophomore Alexa Popa won the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.28. Senior Suzanne Schwee won the 200 butterfly with a 2:02.76. Sophomore Paige McCleary won the 3-meter board with a 294.90. Sophomore Kristel Vourna touched the wall with a 55.74 to win the 100 butterfly.
On the men's side of the meet, in the most thrilling race of the day, sophomore BJ Hornikel kept his winning streak in 100 freestyle dual meet races alive by beating the Wildcat's Tyler Reed by one-hundredth of a second with a 45.12.
Ellis won the 500 and 1000 freestyles, going 4:36.01 and 9:28.77 respectively. Alabama went one-two-three in the 200 butterfly, led by Coci's 1:48.14. Coci also won the 100 butterfly, turning in a 48.74.
Junior Reese Shirey won the 100 backstroke with a 50.85, edging Kentucky's Ramon Walton by four-hundredths of a second. Sophomore Devan Terry won the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:06.35. Senior Joe Ziegler won the 200 backstroke, touching at 1:46.60, nearly four seconds ahead of the field.
Alabama's men closed out the meet with a win in the 400 freestyle relay with Coci, senior Gilles Gutnecht, Hornikel and senior Joe Ziegler posting a 3:02.16.
The Tide returns to action on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. at the Alabama Aquatic Center against the Georgia Bulldogs.