Feb. 17, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -
The Alabama swimming and diving teams enjoyed its best day by far at the Southeastern Conference Championships being held on the University of Tennessee campus in the Allan Jones Aquatic Center this week, including a runner-up finish by sophomore BJ Hornikel in the 200 freestyle.
"BJ has put the work in all the way through the season and tonight he put together a really nice swim," UA head coach Eric McIlquham said. "To finish second in the conference in one of the premiere events as a sophomore says a lot about how far he's come and what's he's put into his swimming."
Hornikel posted a career-best of 1:34.81 in the 200 freestyle, which ranks him second all-time for the Tide, less than a second off Olympic gold medalist Jon Olsen's school record of 1:33.91.
"We had a lot of top-eight finishes tonight," McIlquham said. "And that was important as far as what needed to do in terms of scoring points. Overall we had 13 performances in finals and we had a lot of people put themselves in a position to move on to the NCAA Championships."
Senior Joe Ziegler, who was eighth in the 200 freestyle after prelims, moved up to sixth with a career-best time of 1:35.87, which moves him up to fourth all-time at Alabama. Senior Gilles Gutnecht was 16th in the 200 freestyle with a 1:38.37 after posting a 1:37.99 in prelims.
Ziegler also scored in the 100 backstroke, dropping more than half a second off his prelims time, winning the consolation finals with a career-best time of 48.13, taking ninth overall.
"That was a nice double by Joe with very little rest in between the two events," McIlquham said.
Freshman diver Jordan Lesser tallied 346.45 points in the finals of the platform even to take fourth place overall. Sophomore Luke Zippi scored a 299.25 to finish 16th off the platform.
"To come into this league and finish fourth off the platform as a freshman is a great accomplishment and hopefully something Jordan can build on going forward."
Sophomore Alex Coci just missed the school record in the finals of the 100 butterfly, touching the wall with a career-best 47.17, good for fifth place. Junior Anestis Arampatzis was 13th in the 100 butterfly with a time of 48.21 after posting a 48.02 in prelims.
Sophomores Devan Terry and Cameron Conners finished 12th and 13th respectively in the 100 breaststroke. Terry turned in a 55.15 while Cameron, who posted a 55.13 in prelims, went 55.49 in finals. Junior John Ellis finished 14th in the 400 individual medley with a time of 3:54.16, which ranks him sixth all-time for Alabama.
For the women, the 400 medley relay of sophomore Lauren Piper and freshman Kaylin Burchell combined with sophomores Kristel Vourna and Alex Popa to shatter the school record, set in 2009, by more than two seconds, touching the wall at 3:36.10 and taking fourth place.
"To break the school record by more than two seconds with a relay that is made up of three sophomores and a freshman says a lot for our future," McIlquham said.
In individual events, Vourna touched the wall at 52.30 in the 100 butterfly, taking fifth place while Burchell was sixth in the 100 breaststroke, coming in at 1:00.76. Her career-best time from prelims ranks her second all-time for the Tide with a time of 1:00.53.
Piper was eighth in the finals of the 100 backstroke, coming in at 54.80, just off the 54.51 she clocked in prelims. Sophomore Stephanie Kinsey shaved half a second off her 100 backstroke time from prelims going 55.40 in finals and moving up to 12th place. Her time ranks her fifth all-time for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama closes out the SEC Championships on Saturday. Prelims get underway at 10 a.m. EST with the 200 backstroke.