Tide finishes 10th at Southeastern Conference Championships
The Alabama men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams closed strong on the final day of the Southeastern Conference Championships held in the Texas A&M Natatorium this week, including breaking a nearly 20-year-old school record.
Junior BJ Hornikel took fourth place in the 100 freestyle, clocking a career-best 42.87, edging closer to Jon Olsen’s 42.69 school record set in 1991. It was Hornikel’s third appearance in the championship finals this week, following top-eight finishes in the 50 and 200 freestyle. Freshman Brett Walsh took 20th in the 100 freestyle with a 44.21 after posting a career-best 44.11 in prelims.
Hornikel and Walsh with junior Vlad Caciuc and senior Reese Shirey combined to take sixth place in the 400 freestyle relay with a 2:55.02. Walsh led the relay off with a career-best 44.01, which ranks him 10th all-time at Alabama.
Senior Jenna Gallo closed out her final SEC Championship appearance with a flourish, shattering the school record in the mile, posting a 16:13.56 to take ninth place overall. Gallo shaved nearly five seconds off the previous mark of 16:18.10 set by Ann-Sofie Joensson in 1995.
Senior Reese Shirey took 10th in the 200 backstroke with a 1:44.48 after posting a 1:44.04 in prelims, taking more than a second off his previous career-best. He is second all-time for the Tide, just 0.2 off the school record.
Freshman Brian Westlake took 11th in the 1,650 freestyle after posting a career-best time of 15:09.80, moving up to tenth all-time for the Tide. Westlake replaced current assistant coach Mike Davidson on the Tide’s all-time top 10, who posted a 15:10.31 in 1986.
In the men’s platform diving event, junior Luke Zippi took 15th while senior Peter Hillyer was 22nd. Zippi scored 286.20 points while Hillyer tallied 237.90 in his final SEC championship appearance.
Freshman Emma Saunders finished 19th in the 100 freestyle with a career-best 49.31, making her second on Alabama’s all-time top-10 list.
Saunders joined with freshman Justine Panian, junior Stephanie Kinsey and freshman Brittany Gilbert to finish eighth in the 400 freestyle relay with a 3:21.51.
Sophomore Phillip Deaton and freshman Crews Wellford both scored in the 200 backstroke. Deaton took 22nd with a career-best 1:46.73 while Wellford took 24th after posting a career-best in prelims with a 1:46.74. Deaton is now fifth and Wellford sixth all-time for the Tide in the 200 backstroke. Junior Cameron Conners took 21st in the 200 breaststroke with a career-best 2:00.85.
The Tide men and women both finished the championships in 10th place. The men scored 451 points while the women tallied 353 points.
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