Day 3 of the SEC Championships at Allen Jones Aquatic Center was another strong day for the Tigers as the men held onto their first-place lead by a slim margin of 20 points ahead of Florida. Don't let that slim margin scare you -- the Tigers have been here before. In 2010 and 2011, the Tigers went into the final day of competition ahead by fewer than 30 points and retained their leads to claim the titles. The ladies fell to fourth on Day 3 as the University of Georgia pulled away from the rest of the competition.
Finals for Day 3 started with the women's 400 IM. Freshman Sarah Peterson placed third in prelims to qualify, but she finished seventh in finals with a time of 4:11.23 -- still a strong showing for just a freshman. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Olivia Scott seeded second and third in the 100 fly prelims, which is a strong event for both swimmers. The swimmers flipped places for the finals; Scott swam a 52.04 and Vanderpool-Wallace swam a 52.08 to score key points for the Tigers. Junior Becca Jones placed eighth in the 200 freestyle finals with a time of 147.87. Katie Gardocki and Haley Krakoski finished 11th and 13th in the consolation finals to also score points for Auburn.
Next up for the women was the 100 breastroke finals. Auburn's Lauren Norberg and Abby Duncan finished fourth and fifth with times of 1:00.54 and 1:00.70. Emily Bos finished fifth in the 100 backstroke finals and Hannah Riordan finished ninth in the consolation finals.
The final event for the women was the 400 medley relay. Auburn entered the meet as the top seed with an 'A' cut time of 3:32.69 but was disqualified from the race with an early take-off. A first place finish in a relay event is worth double a first place finish in an individual event, so there is no doubt that the ladies are disappointed with this finish. However, Brett Hawke and the rest of the coaching staff have prepared a championship caliber program and the women will demonstrate that Saturday as they will assuredly finish the meet strong. For those of you who don't know, an 'A' cut finish in the SEC's automatically qualifies the swimmer for the NCAA championships, while a 'B' cut time can receive an invite to the meet. Every swimmer for both the men and women, aside from the relay, finished with at least a 'B' cut on Day 3.
Day 3 for the men started with Florida sweeping the 400 IM with a 1-2-3 finish. This result was expected by the entire pool and did not discourage the Tigers, even though no Auburn swimmer qualified for the final. Marcelo Chierighini placed sixth in the 100 fly with a time of 47.74. Auburn was well represented for the 200 freestyle final, as James Disney-May, Zane Grothe, and Drew Modrov placed third, fifth, and eighth for the Tigers. Top qualifying Stuart Ferguson placed second with a time of 53.08 in the 100 breast finals. Chris Manning finished eighth in the same event for the Tigers. One of the best races of the night came from Kyle Owens in the 100 back.
Owens finished with an 'A' cut time of 46.09. The men platform diving finals were also held on Day 3 and John Santeiu scored some clutch points for Auburn with a second-place finish of 382.10. Michael Beran and Fraser McKean placed ninth and 11th in the event. Florida only had one diver score points, allowing Auburn to reclaim the lead from the Gators. The Tigers finished the night strong with an 'A' cut time of 3:11.33 to take first place in the 400 medley relay. Auburn is in first with 535 points and Florida is close behind with 515. Tennessee is in 3rd with 363 points.
The final day of the SEC Championships should prove to be exciting. Watch the events live at UTSports.com or follow the live blog at AuburnTigers.com. Live updates will also be given by @AuburnSwimming on Twitter. The day's events include the 200 backstroke, breastsroke, and butterfly, 100 freestyle, 1650 freestyle, women's platform diving, and 400 freestyle relay. The meet could come down to the final relay, with the Auburn men seeded first and the Florida men seeded fifth. Be sure to tune in! Prelims start at 9 am and the finals start at 5 pm.