Women Clinging to SEC Championship

The Kentucky women's swimming squad broke a school record and held onto their lead Wednesday while the UK men set a new record of their own on day one of the SEC Swimming Championships in Florida's O'Connell Center Natatorium.

The UK men's quartet of sophomore Alejandro Bravo, freshman Kristian Outinen, and seniors Daniel Cruz and Tim Patrick took third in the 200-medley relay with a time of 1:28.04, over two seconds faster than the seventh-place time the UK men produced a season ago. UK trailed Tennessee going into the final leg of the relay, but Patrick swam a blistering 18.82, the fastest time in the event, in the freestyle leg to put the Cats just ahead of the Vols for third place.

The UK women improved their 2004 showing in the 200-medley relay by over five seconds and three places. Senior Jessica Siegele, junior Laura Graham and freshmen Heather and Jenny Bradford completed the event in a school-record time of 1:39.78 for fourth place. The time shatters the school record time of 1:42.86 the same quartet set in November at the Indiana Invitational and automatically qualifies the Cats to compete in the event at the NCAA championships.

The Kentucky men rewrote another school record in the in the 800 freestyle relay. Cruz, junior Daniel Farnham, senior Jerram Chudleigh and junior Steven Manley completed the relay in 6:24.14, obliterating their own school record set at the 2004 NCAA Championships by nearly five seconds. The same Kentucky quartet swam the event in 6:31.01 a year ago. UK's time would have been good for a new pool record, but Florida took first in 6:16.25, breaking American, NCAA, U.S. Open, SEC and facility records. However, the time was fast enough to give the Cats an automatic bid to the NCAA championships.

The Kentucky women placed seventh in the 800-freestyle relay, as junior Shantel Commander, senior Marci Vrooman, freshman Kelley Morrison and junior Brennan Moore completed the event in 7:34.19.

The Kentucky women, on the strength of three conference diving titles captured last week, remain in first place with 166 points and lead second-place South Carolina by 35 points. The UK men remain in fourth place with 129 points.

Day two's events include the 50 and 500-freestyle events, the 200-individual medley and the 400-medley relay. Thursday's preliminaries begin at 10 a.m. EST. The SEC Championships continue through Saturday evening.

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