Three Conference Titles | 19 All-Americans | One Individual National Champion 

Colonels Start Strong at SAA Swimming Championships

Colonels Start Strong at SAA Swimming Championships

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CentreColonels.com) – The 2016-17 Southern Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships kicked off on Wednesday from the Birmingham Crossplex and Centre has gotten off to an impressive start after the first two days of competition. Through Thursday's proceedings, the centre men and women are both in second place.

On Wednesday, there was just one event, the 800-yard freestyle relay, but the Colonels put on an excellent showing on the championship meet's first night. The all-freshmen team of Chloe Grove (Bucyrus, Ohio), Maddie Huber (Fort Thomas, Ky.), Amelia Blankenbeker (Jeffersonville, Ind.) and Annie Holmes (Louisville, Ky.) won the race in 7:42.38, besting Birmingham Southern by four seconds and setting a new SAA Championship record in the event. On the men's side, the team of juniors Logan Oatman (Paducah, Ky.) and Bradley Baker (Paducah, Ky.) and freshmen Arthur Ensign-George (Louisville, Ky.) and Michael Hambleton (Lake Bluff, Ill.) finished second overall with a time of 7:00.45.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Centre's winning 800-yard freestyle relay team


On Thursday, Chloe Grove, Maddie Huber and Amelia Blankenbeker returned to the pool for the 200-yard freestyle relay, this time joined by junior Cameron Beach (Greenville, S.C.), and the Colonels once again came away with a victory, improving on their seed time by a second and a half to finish in1:36.21 and beat second place Birmingham Southern by less than a second. The Centre men's team of Michael Hambleton, Bradley Baker, junior Noah Martin (Spartanburg, S.C.) and sophomore Mitchell Collins (Richmond, Ky.) finished fourth in the event in 1:26.74, just 1.3 seconds behind the first place time.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Centre's winning 200-yard freestyle relay squad


In the 500-yard freestyle, the top time for the Colonels belonged to Chloe Grove, who placed third overall in 5:09.99. Arthur Ensign-George also placed third, finishing in 4:39.59 with Logan Oatman right behind in fourth place.

Cameron Beach picked up a runner-up finish in her next race, taking second in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.17. The top time for Centre in this event on the men's side belonged to Mitchell Collins, who finished in 22.52 for fourth place overall with Noah Martin right behind him in a tie for fifth place.

Thursday also marked the 1m women's diving competition at the conference championships and the Colonels were the top team in the event, scoring 50 points overall. Junior Sarah Hayhurst (Newburgh, Ind.) won the event with 441.6 points, with sophomore Sierra Panting (Anchorage, Alaska) finishing fourth with 302.05 points.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Sarah Hayhurst


The Centre men picked up their first victory of the meet in the final event on Thursday as the team of Oatman, Collins, Martin and Ensign-George earned a hard-fought victory in the 400-yard medley relay, finishing in 3:25.47 to beat Birmingham Southern by just over one second. On the women's side, the team of Annie Holmes, Cameron Beach, freshman Emma May (Asheville, N.C.) and sophomore Jacquelyn Engel (Lexington, Ky.) finished third in the event with a time of 4:03.34.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Men's 400-yard medley relay


The SAA Championship Meet will resume Friday with a pair of sessions and continue into Saturday for the conclusion.