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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Friday morning was the start of day four of the 2017 SEC Championships and a new day for the Vanderbilt swim team. After not cracking the finals swims last night, they were ready to get after the prelims Friday morning. The Commodores had 15 swimmers compete in the 200 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke prelims and the highlight of the day was Kara Lucenti’s swims in the 100 breastsroke.
"Today was a much better day all-around," said head coach Jeremy Organ. "Really proud of all the girls today, especially Kara for her swims in the 100 breaststroke. To get in the position to have a swim-off, win it while breaking the school record, get 13th overall in the event at night plus swim the breaststroke in the relay is a tough day but she was great. I am really happy with how the team responded and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It is the last day and we have lots of swims so we are looking to go out on a high note."
Lucenti swam in the fifth and final heat of the 100 breaststroke prelims and finished with a time of 1:02.05, which is an NCAA “B” cut time. She finished tied for 16th so a swim-off ensued to determine whether she would swim in the B or C final later this evening.
In the swim-off, Lucenti just edged out Georgia’s Lexi Glunn at the wall to earn a spot in the B final and set a school-record in the process. She finished with a personal-best time of 1:01.41, which broke Elly Faulkner’s record (1:01.44) that was set at the 2014 SEC Championships in Athens, Ga.
In the B final Friday night, Lucenti was in lane eight but that did not hurt her from keeping up with the pack throughout the race. She finished fifth in the heat and 13th overall in the event with another NCAA “B” cut time of 1:01.85.
Later in the evening session of day four, the Commodore relay team competed in the 400 medley relay final. Swimming in heat one of two, the team of Johanna Goldblatt, Kara Lucenti, Breanna Sapienza and Paige Hamilton finished with a time of 3:42.18.
Back in the morning session, there were two other Commodores to swim in the 100 breast prelims. Brenda Cha swam in the first heat and posted a time of 1:07.15. Kathryn Coughlin swam in heat two and finished with a time of 1:03.51.
The first event of the prelims was the 200 butterfly and seven Commodores swam in the first three heats. The first heat had four ‘Dores and was led by Alexandra Blankenburg. She finished with a season-best time of 2:03.64, followed by Erin Primdahl with a personal-best time of 2:05.45. Kayla Moran was right behind her with a time of 2:05.93 and Namilla Sanchez rounded out the heat with a time of 2:11.79.
Breanna Sapienza was the lone Commodore to race in heat two of the 200 fly. She posted a season-best time of 2:01.37 and finished just five spots out of reaching the 200 fly finals.
Seniors Rachel Koch and Carrie Bencic were the last two ‘Dores in the 200 fly prelims. They swam in heat three and Koch posted a season-best time of 2:01.51 while Bencic finished with a time of 2:03.98.
The next event of the morning prelims was the 100 backstroke and the ‘Dores had five swimmers in the first two heats. Madeline Hunt led the trio in heat one with a time of 57.16. Kate Hornaday was right behind her with a personal-best 57.33 and Amanda Chabbott rounded them out with a time of 59.09.
In heat number two of the 100 back, both Commodores hit personal-best marks. Johanna Goldblatt posted a personal-best time of 55.93 and Madison Eaker tied her personal-best time of 56.08. Eaker set that PR earlier this season at the Phill Hansel Invitational.
The fifth and final day of the 2017 SEC Championships will begin tomorrow morning at 10 am ET. Prelims for the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, and 200 breaststroke will be in the morning. Later in the afternoon, prelims for the 1650 freestyle will be held. To cap off the championship, the finals for those four events plus the men’s platform and 400 freestyle relay will begin at 6 pm ET.
Full coverage for the 2017 SEC Swimming and Diving Championship will be live on the SEC Network+ and Watch ESPN. Links to the coverage will be posted on vucommodores.com, @Vanderbiltswim on Twitter and Vanderbilt Swimming on Facebook along with updates from each day of competition.