Feb. 19, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -
Paige McCleary turned in the Alabama swimming and diving team's highest finish on day one of the Southeastern Conference Championships being held at the Texas A&M Natatorium this week.
The junior diver finished fourth off the 3-meter board after scoring 340.15 points in the championship final. It was the highest SEC Championship finish of McCleary's career. In her first two SEC Championship appearances, the Tide captain and 2011 SEC Freshman Diver of the Year finished sixth as a rookie and seventh as a sophomore off the 3-meter board.
The Crimson Tide's other big news on day one came when freshman Emma Saunders, who joined the Tide in January for the spring semester, shattered the school 200 freestyle record while leading off the 800 freestyle relay. Saunders clocked a 1:46.46, shaving more than a second off Anne Poleska's 2001 mark.
The Tide women took eighth in the 800 freestyle relay, turning in a time of 7:18.80 behind freshmen Saunders and Brittany Gilbert along with senior Jenna Gallo and junior Anna Rae Gwarjanski. Alabama finished ninth in the 200 medley relay with junior Stephanie Kinsey, sophomore Kaylin Burchell combining with freshmen Brittany Gilbert and Justine Panian to touch the wall with a season-best 1:39.85.
Alabama's men finished ninth in both the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays. In the 200 medley senior Reese Shirey, junior Cameron Conners, freshman Brett Walsh and junior Vlad Caciuc combined for a season-best 1:27.90. In the 800, junior BJ Hornikel, senior Brandon Lowe, Shirey and sophomore Phillip Deaton posted a season-best 6:27.69. Hornikel took the Tide's 800 freestyle relay out in a season-best 1:35.04, just off his career-best time.
Senior Peter Hillyer scored off the 1-meter springboard, taking 23rd place with 244.45 points.
After day one, Alabama's women are in ninth place with 110 points while the men tare in 10th with 82 points. The Tide returns to action Wednesday morning with the men's and women's 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and women's 1-meter springboard.