Big Day Coming For Tide Swimming

ATHENS, Ga. - Members of the Alabama Swimming and Diving teams posted a pair of second place finishes and broke a pair of school records on day two of the Southeastern Conference Championships being held in Athens, Ga. this week.

As a team, Alabama's men are in fourth place with 171 points. With 291 points, Auburn currently enjoys a nine point lead on Florida at the top of the standings. On the women's side of the slate, Alabama is in fifth place with 145 points while home-standing Georgia leads the pack with 300 points.

"We're sitting in good position on both sides of the meet and tomorrow's a big day for us," Alabama head coach Eric McIlquham said.

Senior Mark Randall shaved nearly a second off his own school record in the 500 freestyle, touching the wall at 4:14.82 on his way to a runner-up finish, just a quarter of a second behind Florida's Conor Dwyer. Junior Catalin Cosma also scored in the 500, taking sixth place with a time 4:20.57.

"It was a great race, all the way down the way," McIlquham said. "Mark was running him down there at the end and just ran out of room."

Junior diver Adam Booher scored 397.05 points on his way to second place off the one-meter board, less than four points behind Auburn's Kelly Marx. It was Booher's best finish at the SEC Championships. Senior Aaron Fleshner, who won the three-meter board on the championships' first day, took fourth place with 388.60 points.

"Adam likes performing at night, when the crowds there and really into it," McIlquham said. "He did a great job. Both he and Aaron were right there going into the last dive with a chance to win. They came up a little short, but this league is tremendous and for those guys to be placing where they're placing consistently is great for us."

Senior Riley Boulden finished 15th in the 200 IM with a time of 1:47.87. His swim in the preliminaries, a 1:45.54, shattered the school record, bettering the 1:47.14 mark set by Jens-Peter Berndt in 1986. Berndt's school mark in the 400 IM, also set in 1986, now stands as the oldest record on Alabama's books.

"Riley has done such a good job this season," McIlquham said. "He's put the time and the effort in and coach Sonya (Porter) and coach Stefan (Ghergel) have been working with him a lot and he's been taking it all in. He's really bought into the program and the results speak for themselves. He's got some big swims ahead of him in the breaststrokes."

Senior Elizabeth Hughes took fifth and sophomore Carrie Dragland was sixth off the three-meter board, scoring 351.55 and 349.00 points respectively. It marked Hughes' best three-meter finish at the SEC Championships. It was Dragland's second championship final of the meet after taking fifth off the one-meter board on Wednesday.

Juniors Olivia Covey and Lauren Dunn also scored off the one-meter, taking 10th and 11th place respectively. Covey tallied 297.60 points while Dunn came away with 297.10 points.

"Diving has been phenomenal for us," McIlquham said. "Coach Pat (Greenwell) has been done a great job with those kids and they respond very well."

Junior Kate Shannon Gray and sophomore Suzanne Schwee both scored in the 200 IM. Gray touched with a season-best 1:59.64 to take 10th place while Schwee was 15th with a 2:02.76. Schwee's time in prelims, 2:01.64, ranks her fifth all-time for Alabama.

The Tide's top swimmer, senior Agustina de Giovanni, who came into the week as the No. 5 seed in the 200 IM has been battling the stomach flu all week and was unable to go today. She is also the second seed in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.

"Agustina has been doing everything she can to get back and be ready to swim," McIlquham said. "Right now, for the rest of the way, she's a meet-time decision."

The championships continue on Friday with the 400 IM, 200 freestyle as well as the 100 breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke. The men's platform diving and the 400 medley relays will also be contested on Friday.

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