Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Univ. of Ark.) - The relay team of Shana Lim, Nikki Daniels, Susanna White and Nina Drolc recorded the first NCAA 'A' Cut time on a relay in school history as Arkansas swam a school record 1:37.79 in the 200 medley relay to score the first points for the Razorbacks at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championship hosted by Texas A&M. Arkansas concludes day one of five with 118 points and sits back in eighth place after the first three events.
"It was definitely a solid start," head coach Sean Schimmel said. "We are in the toughest conference in the country and things aren't going to come easy, and we have our work cut out for us these next few days. We are taking it one session at a time and we are going to control what we can control."
It was Lim who got Arkansas started with a 24.64 opening leg, putting Arkansas tied with Missouri for fifth place. Daniels was up next in the breaststroke and moved the Razorbacks up to fourth place with a 27.06 split. White was the second-fastest off the blocks and put together a solid performance on the butterfly leg moving the Razorbacks into fifth and leaving it up to Drolc to hold Arkansas together. The freshman delivered a tremendous final leg (22.51) out-touching LSU's relay by one tenth and Georgia's by .11.
"Those four women have done a great job all year and they have built on that," Schimmel said. "They never lost the 200 medley relay once in a dual meet this season and obviously they just kept developing it all year and they made great strides."
Their time of 1:37.79 gave the Razorbacks the highly coveted 'A' cut time giving them an automatic qualifying time at the NCAA Championship. The 'A' cut was the first for the Razorbacks this season under Schimmel. The strong finish resulted in a 50-point pickup for the Razorbacks and put Arkansas in fifth-place after event one.
Junior Kesha Naylor earned a spot in the three-meter diving finals after scoring a 313.95 in the preliminaries, giving her a seventh-place finish. To start off the finals, Naylor recorded an incredible inward two and a half pike for a monster score of 61.50, giving her nearly a six-point lead after round one. Naylor would finish in eighth-place and score for the Razorbacks with a final tally of 304.60.
Freshman Hannah Bortnick concluded the three-meter board preliminaries in the afternoon with a total score of 254.45 and nailing her final dive, a reverse two and a half flip, for her best score of the six-dive competition, 50.40. Freshman Shelby Bartlett finished just behind Bortnick with a final score of 251.75.
The 800 freestyle relay team of Anna Mayfield, Lauren Jordan, Nicole Menzel and Rachel Stoehr would close things out for the Razorbacks with an NCAA 'B' cut time of 7:11.44 and a seventh-place finish.
The action will begin tomorrow at 10 a.m. as Arkansas competes in the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and one-meter diving preliminaries. The finals will take place at 6 p.m.
Fans looking to follow the swimming and diving team as they compete in the SEC Championships can do so by tuning in to the live blog on ArkansasRazorbacks.com
and following the Razorbacks on Twitter (@RazorbackSwim