UK swimming and diving enters new season under new coach

Staff report

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UK swimming and diving will begin its season with a new head coach for the first time in 23 years.

The Cats will be heading down to Athens, Ga., to take on the University of Georgia at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on Wednesday.

First-year head coach Lars Jorgensen took the helm at UK after former head coach Gary Conelly retired in April. Conelly coached at UK for 22 years.

Jorgensen was initially appointed interim head coach after Conelly retired. In May, Jorgensen was officially hired as the head coach.

Jorgensen was the head coach of the University of Toledo from 2003-10, when he amassed an overall record of 60-23-1.

After his time in Toledo, Jorgensen was an interim assistant at the University of Tennessee.

As a collegiate swimmer at Tennessee in 1992, Jorgensen broke the Volunteers’ record for the 1,000-meter freestyle and earned a silver medal in the 1993 SEC Championships for the 1,650-meter freestyle.

Jorgensen was also an Olympic swimmer, as he placed ninth in the 1,500-meter freestyle in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Georgia women’s swimming and diving is the defending NCAA champion and four-time defending SEC champion. Georgia men’s swimming and diving placed third in the conference last year and finished 10th in the NCAA Championships.

The Lady Bulldogs are 83-1 at home, having won 82 consecutive meets in Athens.

Senior Greg Ferrucci returns for his final season at UK, after becoming the program’s first diver to earn First Team All-American honors in one season on the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform dives. He also placed fourth on all three events at the NCAA Championships last season and was selected to the All-SEC second team for a second straight season.

UK men’s captains this year will be seniors John Fox and Maclin Simpson, and junior Michael Christian.

Fox served as a team captain last season, and earned two top-25 finishes in the NCAA Championships for diving.

Simpson competed at the 2012 USA Summer National Championships and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly races.

Christian finished fifth on the team in the 100-meter backstroke at the UT Invitational during the 2011-12 season.

The UK women’s team captains this year will be juniors Christina Bechtel, Christa Cabot and Lindsay Hill.

Bechtel made her first NCAA Championships appearance last year, while also qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012 for the London Olympics.

Cabot also made her first NCAA Championships appearance last season, finishing 17th on the 3-meter springboard and 26th on the 1-meter board.

The Cats’ and Bulldogs’ dual meet will begin at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.