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Former Corbin swimmer helps UK Swim Team win first SEC Title, earns Athlete of the Week

Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 11:41 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 6:46 PM EST
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ATHENS, Ga. and COLUMBIA, Mo. (WYMT) - The University of Kentucky women’s swimming and diving team made school history Saturday night, winning their first-ever SEC Championship.

The Wildcats broke five school records, had 12 podium finishes, and 13 swimmers combined for 14 personal records on Saturday as the Cats held off the Florida Gators to take gold with 1,124 points, the most in school history. In total, 39 personal records were set throughout the meet.

“This championship means a lot,” said head coach Lars Jorgensen. “We’ve been building this over a few years now, and it’s about the people in front of us that helped build our program. The alumni from years passed established it, our coaching staff, our administration. So many people had terrific effort this weekend, it was really fantastic. I couldn’t be more thrilled for our institution and for our girls. What a great moment.”

For UK backstroker Parker Herren, who had not made the team’s travel roster for the SEC Championships in her previous two seasons, it was the culmination of years of hard work.

Originally from Southeastern Kentucky, Herren had to drive long distances to the nearest pool and was not able to train as often as other high school swimmers.

At Corbin High School, her best times were 59.77 in the 100 back and 2:10.82 in the 200 back, which would have been near the bottom for those who raced the 200 back in the SEC that year.

During her first two seasons at UK, she continued to improve her personal bests. Following more personal bests, including a 53.91 in the 100 back and 1:56.51 in the 200 back, she earned a spot on UK’s travel team for the SEC Championships in Georgia.

“We had other teams coming up to us and telling us that they wanted to have the energy that we had. They wanted us to win because they saw how excited and how hard we were working for it, and it was just so amazing, like I can’t even describe the energy,” Herren said on winning the championship. “The way we were all bonding and fighting together on that last day, it was so much fun.”

The Wildcats were down by 100 points ahead of finals but ended up winning by more than 50 points over traditional SEC powers Florida and Georgia.

Team Scores

PLACE TEAM POINTS

1. Kentucky 1124

2. Florida 1071

3. Georgia 999

4. Alabama 973

5. Tennessee 934

6. Texas A&M 839

7. Missouri 614.5

8. Arkansas 595

9. Auburn 510

10. LSU 390.5

11. South Carolina 276

12. Vanderbilt 154

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