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Alabama swimming and diving posts two top-three finishes on Saturday of SEC Championships

James Fletcher

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The University of Alabama swimming and diving team came away with a pair of top-three finishes in the men’s 100 backstroke and one of the league’s top academic honors on the fourth day of competition at the Southeastern Conference Championships held on the campus of Texas A&M.

Senior Luke Kaliszak and sophomore Zane Waddell finished second and third, respectively, in the men’s 100 backstroke. The finish was a career best for Waddle and ranks third all time in school history.

Kaliszak was honored by league coaches as the SEC Male Swimming Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Kaliszak is an NCAA champion and 10 time All-American, carrying a 3.9 grade point average as a pre-med major. This is the third consecutive year an Alabama swimmer honor, graduate Connor Oslin received the previous two in 2016 and 2017.

“That is a well-deserved honor for Luke and a big honor for us,” UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. “We’ve got a lot of athletes on our team that are exceptional students. This isn’t the first academic honor he’s received but it’s one we’re very proud of. He works extremely hard in the classroom and in the pool.”

Junior Justine Macfarlane had a career best finish and took home fifth place in the women’s 100 breaststroke. Junior Emma Murray took eighth in the C final and 24th overall in the same event.

Junior Laurent Bams took eighth in the men’s 100 breaststroke.

The men’s 400 medley relay of Kaliszak, Bams, Waddell and junior Robert Howard finished sixth in the final, while the women’s team made up of junior Katie Kelsoe, Macfarlane and freshmen Flora Molnar and Leonie Kullmann finished ninth in the 400 medley relay.

Freshman Alina Faunce took home fifth in the B final in the women’s 200 butterfly with a career best performance. Senior Paige Matherson also set a personal best in her seventh place finish competing in the C final. Faunce’s time ranks third all time in school history while Matherson’s ranks seventh.

Junior Robby Costine took 14th and senior David Morton took 24th in the men’s platform.

Senior Will Freeman took fourth in the C final of the 200 butterfly, while junior Katie Kelsoe took third in the C final in the women’s 100 backstroke, matching her career best time.

Heading into Sunday, the Tide men are in eighth place with 506.5 points, while the women are in ninth with 407 points.

“In the team standings and as far as our performances, we aren’t really off the mark,” Pursley said. “We just aren’t taking the step forward we hoped to in this meet. Despite that, the team is supporting one another, is fighting and keeping their spirits up. That bodes well for the future. Not every competition is going to go the way you want it to but if you can fight through it, stay positive and continue to support one another, you can turn those things around and that’s exactly what they’re doing. We’re really pleased with that.”

Sunday will be the final day of competition in the SEC championships, with events including the men’s and women’s 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 200 breaststroke as well as the women’s platform diving event. Prelims begin at 10 a.m. and finals will start at 6 p.m.

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Alabama swimming and diving posts two top-three finishes on Saturday of SEC Championships