History was made on Saturday as the Kentucky Women’s Swim and Dive Team won its first SEC championship in program history.
During the competition, the UK swimmers set five new school records and broke 39 individual bests while producing 12 top-three finishes.
In a release, head coach Lars Jorgensen said, “We’ve been building this over a few years now, and it’s about the people in front of us that helped build our program. The alumni from years passed established it, our coaching staff, our administration. So many people had terrific effort this weekend, it was really fantastic. I couldn’t be more thrilled for our institution and for our girls. What a great moment.”
Like in any sport, a good start is key and the ‘Cats did just that on Saturday morning. In the first event of the day, Sophie Sorenson and Caitlin Brooks finished 2nd and 3rd in the 200 backstroke to spark the historic day.
The team clearly wasn’t done there. Riley Gaines and Gillian Davey followed up with school-record performances in the 100 freestyle and the 200 breaststroke.
From there, it was consistent performances from Anna Havens Rice and Jaclyn Hill to help clinch the first SEC title in program history.
Got a really big team…
& WE NEED SOME REALLY NICE RINGS. pic.twitter.com/1NzXNBq56u
— Kentucky Swim & Dive (@UKSwimDive) February 21, 2021
Throughout the meet, Kentucky had three individual conference champions with Lauren Poole, Riley Gaines, and the 800 freestyle relay all having the fastest time.
Finishing in second place was Gillian Davey, twice, and Sophie Sorenson. The Cats also added six third-place finishes.
Out of the finishers, five automatically qualified for next month’s NCAA Championships in North Carolina. Gaines and Davey will enter as individuals and will be joined by the 200 medley, 400 medley, and 800 freestyle relay.
When a team wins a swimming championship, it is usually tradition to celebrate in the pool. Usually, the coach will jump in fully clothed to join the celebration. UK’s Jorgensen did just that and was joined by UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, who gave us the GIF for the ages.
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) February 21, 2021
If you want a different angle, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey captured Barnhart in mid-leap into the pool.
The moment will live on.
The NCAA Championships will be held from March 17-20 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in North Carolina. What we all need now is another Barnhart cannonball after a National Championship.