The Tennessee men’s swimming team got on the scoreboard with top-16 performances from relays and diving Thursday to open the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Indianapolis.
After day 1 of the three-day meet, the Vols are in 23rd place with 12 points. Michigan leads with 153 points, followed by California (123.5) and Auburn (112.5).
Senior Brent Sterling got the Vols’ first points of the meet by taking 15th on the 1-meter springboard. Tennessee later grabbed valuable relay points — worth twice the points of individual races — by taking 13th in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 16th in the 400 medley relay.
Learning was the name of the game for the Vols all day with three of seven swimmers Thursday making their NCAA debut. Freshmen Sean Lehane and Gustav Aberg Ledjstram contributed on the relays, and sophomore Tristan Slater swam his first race at the national meet, the prelims of the 200 IM (1:45.82, 35th).
“It was a pretty intense learning experience, but it was really good that we got second swims in both relays,” Tennessee coach Matt Kredich said. “Now we have some experience. With two days left, we want to build on that.”
Sterling, the Vols’ lone diver in the meet, earned honorable mention All-America honors for the first time in his career, with a six-dive score of 303.45.
He will compete in his best event, the 3-meter springboard, on Friday.
“I think that bodes well for him,” UT diving coach Dave Parrington said. “He tends to be a little stronger on the 3 meter, so he’ll have some good confidence.”
Sterling, a Central High graduate, has put together by far the best season of his career, with personal bests in all three diving events. He reached the finals in two events at the SEC Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships for the third time in his career earlier this month in a closely contested zone championship.
“For Brent to come here in his third NCAAs and a senior, to be able to step up and score points for the team, I couldn’t be more, more proud of him,” Parrington said.