British swimming were represented on the victory podium at the SEC championships at the Mizzou Aquatic Centre in Columbia Missouri, as University of Florida took the men’s overall title, in the form of Mark Szaranek, but it was Joe Patching who emerged as the best GB swimmer of the meet with two individual wins.
The two Brits fought a meet long individual head to head across a number of events, starting with the 800 freestyle relay where Szaranek’s Florida Gators held off Patching’s Auburn Tigers for the win. Patching’s first win came in the 200y IM later in the same session as he posted a pool record and NCAA A cut of 1:42.21 for the win, leaving his compatriot in third place. The roles were reversed somewhat in the 400y IM where Szaranek claimed silver to Patching’s bronze, but neither could match the pace of winner Jay Litherland of Georgia.
Patching visited the podium again with silver in the 400y medley relay, a race that went without his Florida adversary, and closed out his programme with a victory over 200y backstroke in another pool record and NCAA A cut of 1:40.14. That roughly converts to a time under 1:57 long course so is a solid effort.
Meanwhile Szaranek had added a win in the 200y freestyle relay, swimming alongside new American record holder Caleb Dressel, and an 8th placed finish in the 200y fly. He rounded out his meet with silver in the 400y freestyle relay.
The last GB man in action was Harry Ackland, although he found the going much tougher than in his debut year, as he was unable to secure an evening swim.
On the ladies side, Shauna Lee was making her first foray into American collegiate conference swimming and her Georgia Bulldog’s team narrowly missed out on the overall title. Lee herself was on the gold medal winning 800 free relay, a race that included four other British ladies. Jessica Thielmann and Amelia Maughan were on the bronze winning Florida team, Danielle Stirrat led off Louisiana who finished fourth and Emma Saunders was first up for Alabama in 10th. Maughan was the quickest of the group with 1:45.76, albeit Stirrat posted 1:45.96 from a standing start.
Lee’s individual campaign included a runners up spot in the B final of the 200y free, and a C final appearance in the 100y free. Thielmann meanwhile couldn’t defend her 1650y free title from last year, but was solid on her way to 4th in the 500y free, 7th in the 400y IM and a runner up spot behind Canada’s Britanny MacLean in the mile. Maughan was another individual title winner in 2015, and was 4th in her defence of the 200m crown, adding bronze as part of the Florida 400 free relay. Their team-mate Georgia Hohmann was pinching hitting all over the programme to support her team, but her highlight came in her best event the 200y backstroke where she was third in the B final. behind her in that race, finishing 6th was Peterbrough’s Chloe Hannam, here swimming for Arkansas in her first taste of conference action.
Stirrat’s best was an 8th placed finish in the 200y free while Saunders, who is also in her last year of NCAA eligibility, had her high point with a B final appearance over the same event.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s Sycerika McMahon was in action for Texas A&M, helping them to the overall women’s title. Her best result came in the 100y breaststroke where she won the B final.
Full results are available here