Amanda Rutqvist Wins SEC 200 Breaststroke Championship
Feb. 19, 2011
Complete SEC Championship Results
By Wes Todd
Freshman Amanda Rutqvist became South Carolina's first-ever Southeastern Conference women's swimming champion, winning the 200-yard breaststroke event and setting a new SEC record with a time of 2:08.56 to put an exclamation mark on the Gamecocks' week at the 2011 SEC Swimming Championships, which wrapped up Saturday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center Natatorium on the campus of the University of Florida.
Rutqvist broke a 10-year-old league mark of 2:08.85, previously held by Alabama's Anna Poleska, as she sprinted to what was nearly a two-second victory over Auburn junior Micah Lawrence. She was also nearly a second faster than the 2010 champion, Arkansas senior Yi-Ting Siow, who went 2:09.23 to win last year's title in Athens, Ga. And more importantly, it was the fifth-fastest time in the country this year and an NCAA automatic qualifying mark, earning her a guaranteed berth in the 2011 NCAA Women's Swimming Championships, set for March 17-19 in Austin, Texas.
The freshman from Gothenburg, Sweden, never trailed in the 200-yard race, leading by .12 seconds after the first 100 yards with an opening split of 1:01.50. A 33.62 on her next 50 yards boosted her to a slightly bigger advantage, but her closing sprint of 33.44 was almost a second faster than anyone else in the field and gave her a victory 20 years in the making.
It wrapped up a strong week that saw South Carolina swimmers break nine school records, post 37 NCAA provisional qualifying times (and one NCAA automatic time), and the men's and women's teams post their best finishes at an SEC Championship in several years. The Carolina women earned a sixth-place finish with 252 points, the best SEC finish since 2006. For the Gamecock men, it was a seventh-place finish with 217 points, finishing ahead of Kentucky and falling just short of sixth-place Alabama's 271 points and fifth-place LSU's 271.5.
Junior Chris Kelly was the other championship finalist on the night, clocking a 1:45.38 to finish in seventh place after he set the school record in the preliminary round with a 1:44.58. He was joined in the evening session by James Crawford, who posted a 1:47.13 in the consolation final to take 14th place.
In the men's 200 breaststroke, sophomores Bobby Cave and Collin Kaden took 10th and 13th, respectively, with Cave lowering his own school-record time with a 1:58.27, and Kaden swimming a 2:00.16, just a hair higher than his personal-best time of 2:00.04 in preliminaries. And freshman Rachael Schaffer posted the second-fastest time in school history in the women's 200 breaststroke - behind only Rutqvist's SEC-record performance - with a 2:12.88 to finish 12th overall in the consolation final.
Michael Flach swam his third final of the week - his first consolation - and posted a 1:45.44 in the 200 butterfly consolation to take 10th-place overall and just miss a personal-best; he already holds the third-fastest time in school history in the event. And sophomore Whitney Avers had a career-best time of 2:00.20 in the women's 200 butterfly to finish 11th overall, earn an NCAA `B' cut and post the third-fastest women's time in Carolina history in the process.
The competition wrapped up with the 400 freestyle relay. The Carolina men's team of Flach, Gerard Rodriguez, Andrew Seiler and Alex Fitton finished seventh with a 2:58.02, and the Gamecock women's squad of Schaffer, Megan Sparks, Avers and Bridget Halligan posted a 3:23.16 to finish ninth overall. As a bit of icing on the cake, the Gamecock men time-trialed the 200 medley relay after the conclusion of the meet and set yet another school record as the team of Jay Warner, Cave, Isaac Badillo and Seiler went 1:28.14 to earn another NCAA `B' cut and eclipse a four-year-old school record by more than a second.
Auburn's men captured their 15th consecutive SEC Championship with 799 points, holding off a spirited performance from the homestanding Florida Gators, who finished with 782 points. The Tiger margin of victory was their closest over the Gators in their 15-year run as SEC Champion. On the women's side, Georgia won its eighth SEC championship and second in a row with 720 points, finishing 42 ahead of defending NCAA champion Florida. Auburn's women and Tennessee's men took third place.
Several Gamecock swimmers will compete in the Bulldog Invitational last-chance meet next Saturday and Sunday in Athens, Ga., while the Carolina divers will next be in action at the NCAA Zone B Diving Regionals, which also take place in Athens March 10-12.
2011 SEC Swimming Championships - Day Four Finals
Men's 1650 Freestyle
MEN'S FINAL TEAM SCORES
WOMEN'S FINAL TEAM SCORES