By KATELYN MASSARELLI
The men’s and women’s swim teams took off for Orlando to compete at the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Championships Feb. 16-19. Overall, the women finished second with a score of 783 and the men finished third with a score of 659.5.
Going into the SSC Championship weekend, men’s head coach Jimi Kiner saw this as the chance to test the waters and see what UT would be up against at the NCAA Championships, which take place next month. For some swimmers, it would be their last chance to compete this season.
“The conference is strong and really good competition,” Kiner said. “We’ll be seeing a lot of what’s coming at nationals because it will be a lot of the same swimmers.”
On Feb. 16, UT had three individual medalists. Junior Tommy Reminger received third place for the 1,000-yard freestyle, sophomore McKenzie Street placed second for the 200-yard Individual Medley (IM) and senior Marisa Barton won first place in the 50-yard freestyle. The women’s 200-yard medley relay reached second place with a time of 1:43.68.
Reminger clocked in a time of 9:16.52 and is excited to see what else he will be able to accomplish before the season ends with nationals.
“The NCAA Championship meet is going to be a ton of fun and I am looking forward to every second of it coming up,” Reminger said.
Day one ended with the men in fourth place with 140 points, trailing behind Florida Tech, Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern. The women locked in second place overall with as score of 179, right below Nova Southeastern.
The second day, the women took over the lanes with Street coming in second place in the 100-yard butterfly, locking her time in at 55.06, a new school record. Two of the women’s relay team placed in the top three with the 400-yard medley relay placing second and the 200-yard freestyle relay placing first.
The women apart of the winning relay team were Barton, sophomore Brittany Murphy, freshman Megan Waddell and freshman Molly O’Hara. Together the girls locked in their time at 1:33.81 a top time in SSC this year.
Being her senior year, Barton was ready to compete and see her teammates and herself swim fast times. She was ready to compete against rival teams like Nova Southeastern and Florida Southern, which her relay team beat. The SSC Championships have only excited her for what’s to come with the NCAA Championships.
“I definitely know I need to focus on a couple more things such as coming off the walls,” Barton said. “We will all be ready for NCAAs in a couple weeks.”
After day two, the men stayed secure at fourth place with 282 points. The women kept their place at second, inching closer to Nova Southeastern with 408 points.
Day three ended with four medalists, one being freshman Sean Rodney placing first in the 100-yard butterfly, securing a time of 1:47.43. Junior Brittany Bayes placed second in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:58.53. Street and sophomore Victoria Horsman placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard butterfly.
The women’s relay team for the 800-yard freestyle relay placed second with an overall time of 7:33.44.
Junior Sophie Long, who competed with the relay team, used her races over the weekend as a chance to see where she was in her training and what times she was reaching.
“It’s also good practice for NCAAs by letting me practice my racing tactics and it’ll let me know what I have to improve on,” Long said.
The day ended with the men stepping up to third with a score of 471.5. The women kept second place with a score of 604.
The last day of the conference, three swimmers placed in their individual meets with Barton and freshman Ethan Harrington placing third in the women’s 100-yard freestyle and the men’s 200-yard backstroke. Street ended the day with second place in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:16.32. The women’s 400-yard freestyle relay placed third with a time of 3:27.22.
The weekend ended with the men coming in third overall with a score of 659.5, trailing behind Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern. The women maintained their second place standing with a score of 783.
With the end of this season’s SSC Championships, the training begins for the swim teams next meet in Birmingham, Alabama. March 8-11, the men and women will compete in the NCAA Championships.
Senior Martin Hammer,captain of the men’s team, thought both teams competed well through the SSC Championships, especially swimmers who, instead of placing, improved personally. Even through the bad races, it can all be fixed in the few weeks the team has to prepare for nationals, Hammer said.
“This year’s team has been the best team in terms of being a fully united team, they have taught me so much, and I wish them best of luck in the future,” Hammer said.