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Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky Kernel

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Ryan Merani’s historical times highlight Kentucky swim and dive’s rivalry meet versus Louisville

Kentucky swimmers compete in the Blue and White Meet on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, at the Lancaster Aquatic Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

The Ralph Wright Natatorium seats were filled to capacity in Louisville, but as Ryan Merani took first place in the 200-yard individual medley (IM), all fans could hear was the small section of Kentucky blue erupting in the sea of red.

The Maryland native secured a final time of 1:45.82, less than a fingertip length ahead of Louisville’s Jackson Millard, who was racing just a lane to his left and finished 0.18 seconds slower than him.

Kentucky swim and dive had traveled 79 miles east to face its long-standing rival No. 15/ No. 8 Louisville in the “Battle of the Bluegrass.”

The final score saw the Cards win on both sides, with Kentucky’s women falling 210-90 while the men lost 209.5-88.5.

Kentucky swimmers compete in a meet against Alabama on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at the Lancaster Aquatic Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jenna Lifshen | Staff (Jenna Lifshen)

With a total tally of 22 points, Merani was clearly the most valuable swimmer for Kentucky as he tied Louisville’s Millard and Christiana Regenauer for the most meet points overall.

The sophomore – named Co-SEC Swimmer of the Week earlier this month – put up a new personal best time in the 200-yard butterfly (fly) at 1:42.50, putting him in the record book for the second fastest time in school history.

His second top 10 time of the day was in the 100-yard fly; his impressive time of 47.27 marked the eighth fastest time in UK history.

In spite of the lopsided figures though, Merani was only one of many Wildcats making history at the meet.

Freshman Carson Hick’s standout performance in the 1000-yard freestyle – a final time of 8:58.01 – marked the third fastest program finish, putting his name in the record book for the first time.

Fellow freshman Lance Johnson’s eighth fastest historical time of 1:58.24 in the 200-yard breaststroke returned his name into the record books for the third time this season.

On the women’s side, Caroline Benda took first in the 1000-yard free; her time of 9:45.40 granted her the fourth fastest program time, while Megan Drumm secured second place with her final time of 9:53.81, claiming the only one-two finish for the Wildcats.

Grace Frericks was the highest scorer on the women’s side with a total of 12 points after claiming victory in the 200-yard backstroke.

Returning to the men, diver Sam Duncan took yet another first-place spot for the men’s one-meter with a final score of 318.83 and finished second in the three-meter with a score of 349.50.

As championship season approaches in less than a month, the Wildcats have a quick turnaround for their final dual meet of the 2023-24 season.

Kentucky will be back in action against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Lancaster Aquatic Center, honoring 13 Wildcats for “Senior Day” on Friday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. ET.

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