Seniors relish final meet at NCAA Championships

By Leila Kalegi

For the majority of the women’s swimming and diving senior class, their time as a Cat nears the end with the beginning of the NCAA Championships that starts today and lasts through Saturday.

Senior swimmers Heather and Jenny Bradford, Lindsay Myhre, Lauren Willis, Jill Southerlan and diver Kari Retrum will compete in Columbus, Ohio, hoping to end their career on high notes.

“I want to accomplish a lot to make Kentucky look better,” Jenny Bradford said. “I want our relays to place well; it’s the last time we can do it. I just want to score as many points for Kentucky as I can.”

The competition is more than just another meet for the Bradfords, who will be competing just outside their hometown of Groveport, Ohio.

“It’s in our hometown, and it’s our last one,” Heather Bradford said. “Just that is going to get us pumped up knowing all our family and friends are there to see us.”

Both Heather and Jenny Bradford will be competing in the 50-freestyle, 100-freestyle and 100-butterfly. Swimming head coach Gary Conelly expects both girls to place in all three events. The lofty expectations are nothing new to the seasoned veterans given the goals they have set for themselves this week.

“I’ve never broken 22 seconds before and I want to do that in the 50-freestyle,” said Jenny Bradford, who placed seventh in the 50-freestyle last year at the NCAAs.

Heather Bradford, on the other hand, wants to finish in the top eight in both the 50-freestyle and the 100-butterfly. She placed seventh in the 100-butterfly last year.

Standing in the Bradfords’ way is Tennessee’s Christine Magnuson. The senior Volunteer claimed first place in the 50-freestyle at the Southeastern Conference Championships a month ago, edging Jenny Bradford by .15 seconds. Magnuson has captured the 100-butterfly title the last two years at SECs.

Retrum, who earned All-America honorable mention honors last season in her first NCAA appearance, will also be hitting the pool for the final time as a Cat.

Retrum said her best chance to place is on the springboard events, particularly the one-meter and three-meter, and she feels fortunate to get one more chance to compete for UK.

“It was really thrilling to see my prayers answered (to be able to) support Kentucky one last time before I wrap up my career,” Retrum said.

After battling four shoulder surgeries and torn ligaments throughout her diving career, Retrum is pleased to end her career in the NCAA Championships.

“Coming into these championship meets, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Retrum said. “(The) SECs gave me a huge confidence boost and it really opened my eyes to the potential that I have this season that I wasn’t sure was there.”

Retrum said she would be happy with whatever happens at NCAAs.

“I am just going to have fun and enjoy it,” Retrum said. “I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself and always had really high expectations. I’m going to do the best I can and if that’s making finals then that would be wonderful. If my best is only the semifinals then that’ll be wonderful too.”

Sophomore swimmer Megan Pulskamp, a first-time participant, rounds out UK’s seven swimmers and divers making the trip to Columbus.