Several top veterans on the University of Tennessee women's swim team helped key an emotional upset victory against Georgia last Saturday and are already focusing on Friday's important meet at Florida.
But for a pair of freshmen getting their first individual wins as collegians, Wednesday's meet against Vanderbilt was a day to remember.
With Anna DeMonte winning the 100-yard backstroke (56.01 seconds) and the 200 individual medley (2:03.31), and Caroline Finkbeiner finishing first in the 500 free (4:57.44), the No. 11 Lady Vols (8-0, 3-0 SEC) defeated Vanderbilt, 155-86.
"I got my first two wins," said an excited DeMonte. "I swam the 100 back against Georgia and was almost a half second faster today. And my 200 IM was a season best by over a second."
Finkbeiner also was emotionally up afterward, although admittedly a little physically fatigued swimming several events.
"I got tired, but I just pushed it aside," she said.
Despite their strong showing on a day in which the usual stars were rested or swam in other events against a Vanderbilt program (2-5, 0-3 SEC) that has been in existence only since 2006, the two still had some stiff competition for freshman of the meet. Fellow first-year swimmer Mary Griffith won the 100 free (51.99) and the 200 free (1:51.11), and Amanda Carner won the 200 back (2:01.52).
The freshmen Lady Vols — including Harper Bruens, Madison Hahn, Faith Johnson, Heather Kiger and Cherelle Thompson — also are apparently as coachable as they are talented.
"They have a ton of energy and are incredibly enthusiastic and they are like sponges," said Tennessee coach Matt Kredich. "They just want to learn. It's such a fun class to coach."
Both DeMonte and Finkbeiner are enjoying their fellow freshmen teammates. In fact, they apparently all smile as much in other school settings as they were after Wednesday's meet.
"There are so many of us in the dorms that we have like such a good time and we feel so much a part of it," said Finkbeiner, who is from Carlisle, Pa.
DeMonte, who is from Ann Arbor, Mich., said she is also having fun.
"I could not be more happy to be here," she said. "Since I've been here, it's all about Tennessee. It's all about orange."
Also getting individual wins for Tennessee were Lindsay Gendron in the 100 fly (54.52), and Kelsey Floyd in the 50 free (22.93) and the 100 breast (1:05.68).
On Friday, the Lady Vols will be back to putting their top swimmers in their best events, as they travel to traditional SEC power Florida with the UT men.
"This is my favorite venue to compete in other than our own home pool," said Kredich. "The atmosphere is just electric. They bring in a lot of people."