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Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky swim and dive concludes three day Tennessee Invitational with historic times

Kentucky junior Payton Neff swims in the women’s 1000 yard freestyle during the meet against the University of Cincinnati on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the Lancaster Aquatic Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

There may have been five other women swimming in her heat, but the pool was seemingly empty as junior Caroline Benda dominated the 400 IM. 

Touching the wall with an Olympic Trials qualifying time of 4:48.39, second place was nowhere in sight, hauling in nearly 10 seconds after Benda. 

This marked the first Olympic cut time for swimming and diving this collegiate season on both the men’s and women’s teams. 

The Kentucky Wildcats tallied 15 NCAA B-cuts and four new top-ten program times over the three day meet, two of which coming from freshman Lance Johnson.

“We competed well, persevered through a lot of racing, and showed our personalities as we continue to build our competitive identity,” head coach Bret Lungaard said in a press release.

On Wednesday, the Wildcats made their second trip to Knoxville, looking to avenge their previous loss against familiar foe Tennessee. 

Along with the Vols, Kentucky faced top-ranked Virginia & Alabama while diving faced UNC, Duke, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Taking midseason head-on, the Wildcats finished in fourth place on the men’s side with a final score of 512, while the women’s team picked up fifth place with a score of 436. 

Day one proved successful for senior Diver Sam Duncan, who picked up the first podium win for Kentucky. Tallying a score of 368.95 granted him first place – more than nine points ahead of second.

Freshman Carson Hick concluded with the highest-placing swimmer of the night in sixth place, touching the wall with a time of 4:23.01.

Freshman Madi McGlothen took her first NCAA B-standard time in her collegiate career, clocking an impressive 4:44.22, the seventh fastest time among the finals slate.

Ryan Merani continued his historic career. The sophomore took his second B-cut this season, but more impressively secured a personal best of 1:45.38, the sixth fastest time in program history.

Kentucky came in hot the morning of day two, highlighted by Benda’s Olympic trial time in the prelims.

Duncan took his second podium win of the meet, securing third place with a final score of 354.05 on the 3-meter. 

Tori Buerger clocked in a time of 52.79 in the 100 back, securing her B-cut and marking the ninth-fastest time in program history. 

Out of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, freshman Lance Johnson has already started an impressive resume.  His first A-final time of 54.53 in the 100 breast also clocked the tenth fastest time in school history.

Merani, Rosley and Victor Martin Roig succeeded with a second-place podium time of 6:26.36 in the 800 free relay, concluding the night for the Cats.

On the third and final day, the Wildcats landed twice more in the top three. 

Merani took silver in the men’s 200 fly, clocking in at 1:43.28 while Frericks found herself on the podium in the 200 back, securing third place at 1:54.73. 

Continuing to make a name for himself, Johnson qualified for his second A-final in the 200 breast and with a time of 1:58.49, he hauled in the ninth fastest time in program history. 

“The most exciting part is that the team is ready to get back to working on building their end-of-season goals,” Lungaard said in a press release.

The Cats will return for the second half of the season, with the diving team traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee, for the USA Diving Nationals on Tuesday, Nov. 28 – Dec. 6.

The swim team will take their own trip to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the Toyota U.S. Open on Wednesday, Nov. 29 – Dec. 2.

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    BarbaraNov 19, 2023 at 9:57 am

    Well written article. Concise, informative, yet colorful. Go Wildcats. Awesome team.