Feb. 18, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. -
The Alabama swimming and diving team wasted no time in announcing their presence at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Championships which got underway Tuesday in Gabrielsen Natatorium on the University of Georgia campus.
"We got off to a great start obviously, with three school records in four swims, it was a statement night for us I think," UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. "It kind of says that Alabama is back."
In the Crimson Tide's first races, both the men's and women's 200 medley relay shattered their respective school records. Alabama then finished off the night with another school record when the men posted a new standard in the 800 freestyle relay.
"You never know which way the first session is going to go," Pursley said. "You hope to get off to a fast start, and you can always recover if you don't, but it certainly makes things easier when you get off to the kind of start we did tonight. Everybody's spirits are high and we've got a shot of adrenalin and a boost of confidence. We're looking forward to the rest of week."
In addition to breaking the school record in the 200 medley relay, the Tide men also grabbed a place on the podium with a third place finish, less than a quarter of a second out of first place. Freshmen Connor Oslin and Anton McKee combined with sophomore Brett Walsh and senior Vlad Caciuc to touch the wall with a time of 1:24.84, shaving nearly two seconds off the previous mark set in 2007.
In the women's 200 medley relay, senior Stephanie Kinsey, juniors Kaylin Burchell and Kristel Vourna and sophomore Justine Panian posted a 1:37.24, shaving more than a second off the previous mark set in 2012, while taking fifth place. Kinsey, Burchell and Vourna were also on the record setting relay in 2012.
Senior BJ Hornikel, sophomore Crews Wellford, Oslin and senior Phillip Deaton clocked a 6:24.77, shaving two-tenths of a second off the previous 800 freestyle relay school record set in 2009. Hornikel's leadoff split was a career-best 1:33.97, a new career-best for the All-American, just eight-hundredths of a second off the school record set by Olympian Jon Olsen in 1990.
"With BJ, we've got one eye on the NCAA Championships and one eye on this week, so for him to get started with that kind of swim today, it's very exciting," Pursley said.
In the women's 1-meter springboard event, freshman Taylor Zablocki, senior Paige McCleary and freshman Dakota Toner all scored for the Tide, taking 10th, 11th and 23rd place, respectively. Off the 3-meter board, freshman Brent Sagert and senior Jake Carloni both scored for the Tide taking 13th and 23rd place, respectively.
The Tide returns to action on Wednesday with the 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and the men's 1-meter diving events. Preliminaries get underway at 9 a.m. CT.