The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Swimming: School records fall like dominos at SEC Championships

Outstanding performances at the SEC Championships ravaged school record books, leaving few survivors.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Ellie Taliaferro swimming freestyle, as photographed on Feb. 2, 2024. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Vanderbilt ended its regular season on a high note in the Music City and won senior night matchup against Tulane on Feb 2. The successful end to the regular season provided the team with the momentum for a historic performance at the SEC Championships in Auburn, A.L., which took place from Feb. 19-24, with the Commodores starting on the second day of competition.

Day one

The Commodores got off to a hot start straight off the blocks to kick off a historic week for the swim program. While there were only two events to swim on Vanderbilt’s first day, the team found a way to set four new school records. Sophia Kosturos was the first Commodore in the water and the first to break a school record. Leading off the 200-yard medley relay, Kosturos touched the wall in 24.90 seconds, breaking the previous record in the 50 backstroke by one hundredth of a second. Her relay teammates Faith Knelson, Alina Stout and Megan Ciezczak took care of the rest, with the team finishing in a time of 1:39.01 to set Vanderbilt’s record in the event.

The 800 free relay team followed a similar script, with another record-breaking leadoff teeing up a record-breaking relay. From a flat start, Ellie Taliaferro split a 1:47.44 to break her own record in the 200 free by over a second. Her teammates Abby Francis, Emily Carpenter and Mercedes Traba finished the job and put the previous record to sleep with a time of 7:16.48.

Day two

The second day proved eventful as well, as Taliaferro and Kosturos continued their siege on the program record books. The duo claimed two new marks in the morning prelims. In the 200-yard individual medley, Taliaferro improved the record to a 2:00.75, and in the 50 free, Kosturos reset the mark to 22.90.

The evening saw another record-breaking team in the 200 free relay, composed of Kosturos and Taliaferro, who were joined by Jenna Ravarino and Ciezczak. In seemingly signature Commodore fashion, Kosturos set a new record as the leadoff, breaking her own hours-old mark in the 50 free with a time of 22.79. The rest of the team raced to a 1:31.02 finish to set another record. 

Day three

There was never a dull moment at the SEC Championships for Vanderbilt Swimming, as the program saw a second consecutive record-breaking morning. In the first event of the day, Traba sped to a time of 4:18.43 in the 400 IM to set a new school record and advance to finals in the evening. Kailia Utley followed Traba up with another record and advanced to finals as well thanks to her time of 53.70 in the 100 fly. Traba came back even stronger in the evening, racing to a time of 4:16.87 to break her own record and meet the NCAA B Standard.

Day four

Following an impressive performance in the 100 fly, Utley displayed her similar prowess in the 200 by breaking a school record, qualifying for finals, and meeting an NCAA B Standard yet again with her time of 1:57.07.

After taking a full day off from breaking records, Kosturos claimed the 100 back mark with a time of 54.08. Her performance was followed by Knelson, whose time of 1:00.74 signified the third new school record in three events on the day.

Yet another record fell in the evening. The time of 3:37.31 in the 400 medley relay was enough to set another record, posted by a team composed of the usual suspects: Kosturos, Knelson, Utley and Taliaferro.

Day five

The morning of the final day of competition was another headlined by Taliaferro, who reset her own program mark in the 100 free to 49.86. Taliaferro returned with her teammates Ciezczak, Knelson and Francis during the evening for the final event of the meet, the 400 free relay. The team went out with a bang, swimming a new school-record time of 3:20.31 to cap off an unprecedented outing at the SEC Championships.

After five days in Auburn, the Commodores travel back home with 14 new school records under their belts, perhaps solidifying themselves as the fastest team in Vanderbilt history.

The group will now prepare for its next postseason challenge, the CSCAA National Invitational Championship, which will take place in Ocala, F.L. starting March 14.

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About the Contributor
Vincent Xu, Staff Writer
Vincent Xu (‘27) is planning on majoring in economics with a minor in data science in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of The Hustler, Vincent enjoys playing sports, watching sports, talking sports and a couple of other things that are sadly unrelated to sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
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