The 12th-ranked Tennessee swimming and diving team took the early lead at

the SEC Championships in Auburn, Ala. on Wednesday night. The Volunteers

set an SEC meet record in winning the 200 Medley relay, and they claimed

first and second in three-meter diving. The Vols also finished second in

the 200 freestyle relay. After three events, Tennessee leads the meet with

111 points. Florida ranks second with 82 points while Kentucky and South

Carolina are tied for third with 76 points.

Tennessee opened the SEC Championship with a strong performance in the 200

freestyle as the Vols took second place in the event. Jeremy McDonnell,

Raphael Thuin, Brent Owen and Michael Gilliam reached the wall in an NCAA

automatic qualifying time of 1:17.97

From that point, the Vols changed the momentum of the meet with one-two

finish in the three-meter diving event. Vol juniors Gabi Chereches, the

1999 three-meter champion, and Shannon Roy, the 1998 three-meter champion,

dueled for the title with Chereches taking the victory in his final dive.

Chereches scored 595.40 to Roy's 589.05 to defend his title.

John Trembley's squad then made a bold statement by establishing an SEC

meet and school record in the 200 medley relay. Gilliam, McDonnell, Thuin

and Owen posted a time of 1:25.59 to capture the crown. The foursome's time

beat the previous SEC meet and school mark set by Craig Gilliam, Jeremy

Linn, Jeff Edler and Adam Engle at the 1997 SEC meet that still stands as

the American record in the event. The new record is not an American record

because Thuin is a native of Brazil.

The SEC Championships continue through Saturday at James A. Matin Aquatics

Center in Auburn, Ala.