Kentucky Women’s Swimming & Diving wins first SEC Championship

The Wildcats collected 1,124 points throughout the meet for their highest score in program history


ATHENS, Ga. and COLUMBIA, Mo. (UK Athletics) – For the first time in school history, the No. 3 University of Kentucky women’s swimming and diving team has won the Southeastern Conference Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. The Wildcats broke five school records and produced 12 podium finishes throughout the meet, collecting 1,124 points for their highest score in program history.

Kentucky set itself up for success during the Saturday morning session after every single swimmer who competed in preliminaries earned a trip to tonight’s finals, creating 20 scoring opportunities down the stretch. Thirteen swimmers earned a combined 14 personal records on Saturday, while 39 personal records were set throughout the meet.

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“This championship means a lot,” said head coach Lars Jorgensen. “We’ve been building this over a few years now, and it’s about the people in front of us that helped build our program. The alumni from years passed established it, our coaching staff, our administration. So many people had terrific effort this weekend, it was really fantastic. I couldn’t be more thrilled for our institution and for our girls. What a great moment.”

Kentucky set the pace early on in finals, earning a 2-3 finish in the 200 backstroke.

Sophie Sorenson claimed the first individual podium finish at the SEC Championships in her career, collecting the silver medal in the event on a personal record 1:50.94. The time is the fourth fastest in UK history. Caitlin Brooks followed her pace, earning her second individual podium finish of the meet with a bronze medal after touching the wall in 1:51.96.

Following the opening event, two swimmers went on to break school records in the next two events.

Riley Gaines broke the school record in the 100 freestyle for the third time this season, doing so in 48.21 and earning sixth place overall in the conference. In the next race, Gillian Davey broke the school record in the 200 breaststroke on a time of 2:05.59. With that time, she also earned her second silver medal of the meet and met the 2021 NCAA Championships “A” time standard.

Two other swimmers stepped up in the 200 breaststroke to win the “B” final and the “C” final on personal records. Jaclyn Hill won the “B” final for ninth place on a time of 2:08.62, while Anna Havens Rice, just a freshman, won the “C” final for 17th place on a time of 2:10.21.

In the final individual event of the meet, the 200 butterfly, Gaines brought home fourth place on a personal record 1:55.10, while Izzy Gati finished in seventh place in 1:56.00.

On the men’s diving side, Danny Zhang earned his second podium finish of the meet, collecting a silver medal in the men’s platform event on a score of 403.20. It marked his second-best performance of the season on the discipline. Chase Lane, competing in the final SEC Championships of his career, finished in fifth place overall on a score of 345.40.

The men’s diving scores from this week will be combined with the men’s swimming scores at the 2021 SEC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships Feb. 23-26 in Columbia, Missouri.

The No. 3 Kentucky women’s swimming and diving statistics are as follows:

Medal Count: 12
Gold: 3
Lauren Poole (400 IM, 4:03.90)
Riley Gaines (200 free, 1:42.70)
800 freestyle relay, 6:58.58

Silver: 3
Gillian Davey (200 breast, 2:05.59)
Gillian Davey (400 IM, 4:05.96)
Sophie Sorenson (200 back, 1:50.94)

Bronze: 6
Izzy Gati (100 fly, 51.74)
Caitlin Brooks (100 back, 51.63)
Caitlin Brooks (200 back, 1:51.96)
Kyndal Knight (platform, 275.65)
200 med-r, 1:35.87
400 med-r, 3:30.44

School Record Count: 5
Gillian Davey (200 breast, 2:05.59)
Lauren Poole (400 IM, 4:03.90)
Riley Gaines (100 free, 48.21)
Riley Gaines (200 free, 1:42.70)
200 med-r, 1:35.87

2021 NCAA Championships Automatic Qualifications Count: 5
Riley Gaines (200 free, 1:42.70)
Gillian Davey (200 breast, 2:05.59)
200 med-r, 1:35.87
400 med-r, 3:30.44
800 freestyle relay, 6:58.58

Team Scores
1. Kentucky 1124
2. Florida 1071
3. Georgia 999
4. Alabama 973
5. Tennessee 934
6. Texas A&M 839
7. Missouri 614.5
8. Arkansas 595
9. Auburn 510
10. LSU 390.5
11. South Carolina 276
12. Vanderbilt 154

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas