Alabama Swimming and Diving Get NCAA Cut on Day One of SEC Championships


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Aaron Ashworth

The Alabama swimming and diving championships grabbed a pair of top-5 finishes on day one of the Southeastern Conference Championships being held in Knoxville, Tenn. this week.

Alabama’s women are seventh with 68 points while the men are also seventh with 32  points. Georgia leads the men’s competition after scoring 138 points with three events scored. Kentucky leads the women’s team race after tallying 163 points in the first three competitions.

In a break with tradition, 18 places will be scored in individual events at the 2006 SEC Championships, rather than the customary 16 places. Normally the SEC meet is contested in an eight-lane format. However, when swimming a six-lane format, as is the case for the University of Tennessee Student Aquatic Center at this meet, NCAA rules stipulate all 18 places must be scored.

“We’re off to a pretty solid start,” Alabama head coach Eric McIlquham said. “Crystal (Rasmussen) did a great job on the one-meter board and Aaron (Ashworth) looked good on the three-meter. On the relays our women are about where we thought they’d be while the men grabbed an NCAA “B” cut in the 800 freestyle relay, so that was a good start.”

Senior Crystal Rasmussen jumped from fifth in the preliminary round of the women’s one-meter diving event to fourth in finals, scoring a 292.05 points. Rasmussen was sixth off the one-meter at last year’s SEC Championships.

The Tide’s 200 medley relay of senior Kathryn Hallquist, sophomore Erin Sparks, junior Melina Bassino and freshman Vanessa Von der Heyde posted a time of 1:46.31, good for seventh place.

Von der Heyde led off the Tide’s 800 freestyle relay with a career best 1:49.91, which puts her eighth all-time for Alabama. She combined with sophomore Hanna Miluska, sophomore Stephanie Johnson and Bassino to post a sixth-place 7:26.38.

Junoir Aaron Ashworth was third off the three-meter board after scoring 334.80 points in finals. Sophomore Chad Frichtl also scored off the three-meter, taking 14th place with  273.95 points. A year ago Ashworth was fifth and Frichtl was 17th on the three-meter at this meet.

Freshman Mark Randall, sophomore Ryan Latone, senior Spiros Bitsakis and junior Tim Hansen swam a 6:35.69 in the 800 freestyle, taking seventh place. The Tide’s time earned the squad an NCAA “B” qualifying mark. The men’s scoring took a hit when the 200 medley relay was disqualified for an early exchange.

Action continues tomorrow with a full slate of events, including the 500 freestyle, where Randall is the top seed.