Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide eager to get their feet wet

A typical televised Southeastern Conference Championship game for a football team may run about four hours, maybe five. The typical span of time it takes to complete a Southeastern Conference Championships meet for a swimming and diving team? Four days.

Today, the men and women’s swimming and diving teams will begin competition in Gainesville, Fla., for the SEC Championship. The diving portion of the SEC Championships began Feb. 11 and wrapped up Sunday.

This is a different format for the meet, as the swimmers usually compete alongside their diving teammates. Instead, both teams will enter the meet with the diving portion complete and scores counted.

After the three days of diving competition, the men are in fifth place with 43 points. Senior Adam Booher and sophomore Stephen O’Connell both scored for the Tide, finishing ninth and 13th, respectively, off the platform. Booher also finished fourth off the 1- and 3-meter boards.

The women will enter the meet in eighth place after two of the three divers who competed scored in multiple events. Senior Olivia Covey placed 16th off the platform and 15th off the 3-meter board, while freshman Paige McCleary finished 14th on the platform, sixth off the 3-meter board and eighth off the 1-meter board. The women have scored 31.5 points so far.

“It’s exciting that our divers are doing really well,” said freshman BJ Hornikel. “They’re definitely setting it up so when we come in later we can finish what they started.”

Both the men and women are looking to improve on their fifth place finishes at last year’s SEC Championships. The teams will be challenged to compete in a loud environment without their diving units on hand for support.

“It sucks the divers won’t be around, but a lot of parents will be there,” junior Joe Ziegler said. “They’ll be doing their best to get some cheers going to rival the teams who are pretty loud with their cheers.”

The Crimson Tide, which faced two competitors at its last meet, will now compete against 12 teams. Each swimming event will start with around 50 swimmers. The top 16 finishers will advance to finals. Of the top 16 swimmers, the top eight finishers will compete in a championship finals race while the bottom eight will compete in a consolation race.

Both teams know the key to placing high at the meet will rest on how many swimmers each team can place in the championship finals races.

“You got to do it in the morning,” said head coach Eric McIlquham. “You got to put yourself in a position to score points. You’re kind of locked in with your time. Regardless if you qualify 16th and end up with the fastest time overall, the best place you get is ninth.”

For some Tide swimmers, this will be their first SEC Championships meet. Hornikel acknowledged he was a bit apprehensive and said, “I’m a little nervous; it’ll be a big meet, but it should be exciting to see everybody compete in the whole SEC. That will be fun.”

It has been more than two weeks since the men and women have competed, and they are eager to get their feet wet again.

“In no way am I rusty,” Ziegler said. “I’m going to be ready to go from the first race all the way through the meet. It’s a marathon, so I just have to be consistent.”

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