Feb. 15, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- Georgia's swimming and diving teams reached the awards podium three times on the first day of the SEC Championships on Wednesday at Tennessee's Allan Jones Aquatic Center.
The fifth-ranked Lady Bulldogs won the 800 freestyle relay and took fourth in the 200 medley relay, while the 10th-ranked Bulldogs posted a second-place finish in the 200 medley relay and had a third-place showing in the 800 freestyle relay.
"It was a good first day for us," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "We had some really good swims on the relays. What I like about the relays is that the entire team gets behind them and really gets invested in the meet right out of the chute. The energy level and the focus was just what we needed on the first day."
After one day, the Lady Bulldogs - the two-time defending champs - are fourth with 72 points, trailing Tennessee's 118, Auburn's 101 and LSU's 74. On the men's side, the Bulldogs are third with 73 points. Tennessee and Auburn are tied for first with 106 points.
The 800 freestyle relay of Shannon Vreeland, Melanie Margalis, Jordan Mattern and Megan Romano earned Georgia's first gold medal of the SECs. The team stopped the clock in 6:57.09, lowering its automatic cut for next month's NCAA Championships. Georgia won the race by more than three seconds as Auburn was second in 7:00.32. Georgia's time is the fastest in the nation this season. The Lady Bulldogs now have won the 800 freestyle relay each of the last three seasons and eight times overall. In the women's 200 medley relay, the team of Kristen Shickora, Megan Molnar, Lauren Harrington and Maddie Locus came in third with a time of 1:37.62.
"I'm really proud of our (800 free relay) team and how we did," Vreeland said. "It's good to start the meet off on the first day with a win. We know we've still got a long battle ahead of us. Winning this was something we needed to do to get us started right."
"The 800 free relay from our women was a big boost," Bauerle said. "We needed to win that relay. That was a big deal."
For the Bulldogs, the 200 medley relay of Michael Arnold, Nic Fink, Doug Reynolds and John Simmons touched the wall in 1:26.16 to earn second place. The foursome also broke Georgia's school record of 1:26.35 set in 2010. Jameson Hill, Jared Markham, Fink and Peter Benner went 6:25.35 to come in third in the 800 freestyle relay.
"The 200 medley for the men was one of the best we've had in a long time," Bauerle said. "It's nice when you go faster than you ever have. That was a heck of a good relay."
"The relays really got us off to a great start," Benner said. "They got the team pumped up. It's great anytime you get to go up on the podium."
The SEC Championships will continue on Thursday with the 500 freestyle, the 200 individual medley, the 50 freestyle, the 200 freestyle relay, the men's 1-meter springboard and the women's 3-meter springboard.
"The meet starts Thursday as far as I'm concerned," Bauerle said. "Today was the foreword to a novel, and this is a long novel, like `War and Peace.' Mostly war. We need to do some good things Thursday."