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The Battalion

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A dive into top five

A&M men’s and women’s swimming and diving finish top five in the 2024 SEC Championships
Aggie+swimmer+competes+in+the+Men+100+Butterfly+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+meet+against+Tennessee+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+27%2C+2023+at+Rec+Center+Natatorium+%28Katelynn+Ivy%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Katelynn Ivy

Aggie swimmer competes in the Men 100 Butterfly during Texas A&M’s meet against Tennessee on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023 at Rec Center Natatorium (Katelynn Ivy/The Battalion)

Headed into the last day of SEC Championships in Auburn, Alabama, the Texas A&M men’s and women’s swimming had a tug-of-war in team rankings. Falling up and down and with much-needed placements and points, the Maroon and White finished off strong.

During prelims, the Aggies’ strongest event laid in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke as senior Alex Sanchez headlined a 1-2-3 finish. Sanchez finished at a minute and 51.18 seconds, setting a pool record while sophomore star Baylor Nelson finished second at 1:52.57 and senior Vincent Riberio rounded out third with 1:53.68.

With finals underway for the last time, sophomore Rachel Love and senior Abby Grottle kicked things off in the 1650-yard freestyle, scoring 12th and 14th-place finishes with times of 16:21.24 and 16:21.61, respectively.

Sophomore Hayden Miller secured the first medal for the Aggies, claiming bronze in the 1650y freestyle, clocking in at 16:02.35.

The No. 11 women’s team continued to pour on points, continuing in the 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Miranda Grana finished off an impressive showing in SECs, grabbing third and garnering the second-fastest time in program history, going for 1:51.06. Junior Aviv Barzelay and senior Abigail Ahrens secured top-10 finishes with times of 1:52.89 and 1:53.73, respectively.

For the No. 8 men’s team, sophomore Connor Foote got things going in the 100-yard freestyle, posting a time of 42.13, winning B-finals and good for second-fastest in school history.

Continuing what was an impressive swim in prelims, Sanchez repeated it again as he scored gold in the 200y breaststroke, boasting a new school record and beating his pool record set just earlier. Nelson claimed his third medal of the meet, going a career-best 1:52.43 to grab bronze while Riberio swam a season-best 1:53.19 to grab fourth place.

The women’s team made a last push in the last individual event as four Aggies scored top-20 finishes. Headlined by senior Bobbi Kennett, with a career-best 2:09.91 in the 200y breaststroke. Freshman Hannah O’Leary joined in on the long list of Aggies with career-bests during the meet, finishing 12th at 2:11.59.

Senior Desirae Mangaong and sophomore Giulia Goerigk rounded out 14th and 19th with times of 2:12.11 and 2:12.46, respectively.

Finishing fast in the last event of the meet, the women’s 400-yard freestyle relay team placed ninth with a season-best of 3:15.03, composed of junior Kaitlyn Owens and seniors Olivia Theall, Jordan Buechler and Chloe Stepankek.

The men’s team lowered their seed time to 2:51.22 to grab sixth in the 400y freestyle relay, led by Nelson, Foote, sophomore Seth Reno and senior Carter Nelson.

Overall, the women’s team improved from last year, jumping up six spots to finish third with a score of 926.5.

Though off to a hot start, other SEC powerhouses Florida and Auburn overcame A&M as the top dogs in the meet as the men’s team repeated another fourth-place finish.

Up next, both teams will look ahead to the Last Chance Meet back in College Station from Feb. 29 to March 2.

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About the Contributor
Justin Chen
Justin Chen, Sports Writer
Justin Chen is a journalism senior minoring in sport management and communication. Justin has covered football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball and swim & dive. Justin also writes feature NBA pieces and covered the Miami Heat for Sir Charles In Charge. When not writing, he likes to frequent the gym, support Arsenal and watch anime.
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