ATHENS, Ga. – Alabama’s men blasted to a new Southeastern Conference record on the way to the 200 medley relay title to open the 2019 SEC Championships Tuesday night. The championships are being held at the Gabrielsen Natatorium.
“Anytime you can get out of the gates with that kind of performance, it kind of sets the tone for what follows,” UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. “The guys breaking the SEC record and being just a few tenths of a second off the time that we won the NCAA championship with a few years back – and we were actually faster tonight than we were at SECs heading into that national championship – certainly bodes well for things to come.”
Junior Zane Waddell led off the relay with a 20.22, just .02 off the all-time 50 backstroke record. Seniors Laurent Bams, Knox Auerbach and Robert Howard finished things off, stopping the clock at 1:22.19 and slashing more than a half second off the old SEC championship mark set by Florida last year.
“It was a good start and now we want to feed on that start as we head into the rest of the meet,” Pursley said.
The Crimson Tide women opened the week’s races by taking seventh in the 200 medley relay when freshman Rhyan White, senior Justine Macfarlane, sophomore Flora Molnar and freshman Kalia Antoniou combined to post a 1:37.03.
“The women did a good job on their relay, relative to their best splits,” Pursley said. “Even in the 800 relays, where we’re not happy to finish where we did, the folks on those relays did what we asked of them.”
The men’s 800 freestyle relay of Bams, freshman Nicholas Perera, junior Daniel Kober and sophomore Alex Robinson finished ninth with a 6:23.94. The women’s 800 freestyle relay of sophomore Leonie Kullmann, freshman Kensey McMahon, junior Cameron Brown and junior Alexis Preski clocked a 7:12.36 to take ninth place.
In the diving well, freshman Kevin Li earned a spot in the championship final of the men’s 1-meter springboard event, where he finished eighth with 341.60 points. Senior Robby Costine also scored the men’s 1-meter board, taking 17th with 289.95 points.
“It was a good to have someone in finals on the diving side of things,” Pursley said. “It’s been a gradual rebuilding process for our diving program, so it was good to get those points.”
Freshman Natalie Donkle and senior Ayanna Woods scored off the women’s 3-meter springboard, taking 18th and 21st, respectively. Donkle tallied 272.75 in her first SEC event, while, totaled 253.50.
In the team race, the Tide men are fifth with 135 points after day one, while the women are 11th with 97 points.