TUSCALOOSA, Ala. A record performance by sophomore Agustina de Giovanni highlighted a solid day by Alabama athletes on Friday at the Southeastern Conference Swimming & Diving Championships in the Don Gambril Olympic at the Alabama Aquatic Center.
“We had some great swims,” said Alabama head Coach Eric McIlquam. “It’s the little things we have to do a better job of and take care of. We need to get that done and we’ll see what kind of character we have to fight back. We’ve got one more day to make it up.”
Heading into Saturday’s final day of competition, Auburn leads both the men’s and women’s team standings. The Auburn men hold a slight lead over Florida by a margin of 492 to 476. Georgia is third with 387 points with Tennessee fourth with 332.5. Alabama is ninth with 124 points. The Auburn women hold a commanding 150-point lead in the team standings, leading Florida by a margin of 597 to 447. Tennessee is third with 399 and Georgia is fourth with 294. Alabama stands seventh in the women’s standings with 232.5 points.
In Friday night’s finals de Giovanni broke the school 400 individual medley record for the third time this season. Just hours have dropping three seconds off the record she originally set during the regular season; de Giovanni posted a 4:13.24 in finals to take fifth place. Freshman Kate Gray also scored in the IM, taking 14th place with a time of 4:20.65. Gray’s times from prelims, 4:20.51, ranks her sixth all-time for the Tide.
In his third final of the championships, diver Aaron Fleshner took fourth place off the platform, scoring 366.20 points. The sophomore added tonight’s finish to his SEC 3-meter title and silver medal performance off the 1-meter board. Freshman Adam Booher and sophomore Chris McCormick both scored off the platform, finishing in 10th and 13th respectively.
Senior Erin Sparks, who was seeded 15th in the 100 breaststroke coming into tonight’s finals, posted a career-best 1:02.55 to take second in the consolation finals and 10th overall. Her time moves her to fourth all-time for the Tide.
Freshman Ida Persson scored in the 100 butterfly posting a 54.85 to take 15th place. Persson’s time from prelims, 54.66, ranks her fifth all-time for Alabama.
Junior Chris Perry took seventh in the championship final of the 100 backstroke, hitting the wall at 49.13. Perry finished with a life-time best mark of 48.42 in the preliminaries, which puts him second all-time for the Tide. Sophomore Clint McClendon also scored in the backstroke, taking 13th with a 49.75.
Freshman Catalin Cosma took seventh place in the championship final of the 200 freestyle, posting a time of 1:37.30. His time from prelims, a 1:36.98, ranks him ninth all-time for the Tide. Sophomore Alin Mihalca also scored in the 200, finishing 15th with a 1:38.20.
Alabama had three swimmers in the consolation finals of the men’s 100 breaststroke led by sophomore Riley Boulden who took 12th with a career-best 56.12. Freshman Daniel Armstrong was 15th with a 57.17 while sophomore Luke Boutwell was 16th with a 57.76.
Freshman Denes Zubcsek, who joined Alabama in January, scored in the 100 butterfly, taking 14th place after touching the wall with a time of 48.40, which ties him with Russell McDowell’s 1994 time for fifth all-time at Alabama.
Alabama finished seventh in the men’s 400-yard medley relay with its best time of the season at 3:17.78, just missing the NCAA “B” qualifying standard. The Tide’s women’s 400 medley relay was disqualified.