Cats finish 18th at NCAA Championships

By Leila Kalegi

The women’s swimming and diving team ended its season over the weekend, finishing 18th at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Seven Cats competed with the best in the nation, led by senior diver Kari Retrum’s sixth-place finish in the one-meter springboard. Retrum, the only diver UK sent to the NCAAs, posted a 303.90 in the event to round out one of UK’s two top-eight finishes.

The Cats’ other top-eight finish came in the 200-freestyle relay, in which UK placed fifth. The relay team — comprised of seniors Heather and Jenny Bradford, Lauren Willis and sophomore Megan Pulskamp — also broke its own school record in the 400-freestyle event with a time of 3:18.26 in the preliminary heat and again with a 3:18.81 to finish in 15th place.

The relay team previously set the record at 3:19.39 during the Southeastern Conference Championships earlier this season.

Despite the strong team effort, Jenny Bradford said she was disappointed with this weekend’s finishes. Bradford had hoped to place better than last year’s seventh place finish as well as beat her 22.05 time at the 2007 SECs, but she came up short of both goals.

“I was totally disappointed,” she said. “I had really high expectations and didn’t fulfill any of them.”

Jenny Bradford placed 11th in the 50-freestyle and 19th in the 100-butterfly; she also had a season-best time of 49.03 in the 100-freestyle. Her sister, Heather Bradford, finished 20th in the 50-freestyle and 21st in the 100-butterfly.

“We felt we disappointed the whole team and let everyone down back in Lexington,” Jenny Bradford said. “We were expected to place in our events and get points for our team.”

Though the Bradfords didn’t have the type of weekend they hoped for, Retrum said she met and exceeded her expectations over the weekend. Besides finishing sixth in the one-meter, Retrum also finished 14th in the platform event. The senior diver tallied one All-America honor on the one-meter springboard and one All-America honorable mention on the platform.

“This weekend was more than I ever thought I could end my career with,” Retrum said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I’m so happy how things turned out.”

Arizona took home first place overall, followed by Auburn in second.