Feb. 16, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- Led by 500 freestyle winners Amber McDermott and Martin Grodzki, the Georgia swimming and diving teams enjoyed a successful session on Thursday at the SEC Championships taking place at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center on the Tennessee campus.
The fifth-ranked Lady Bulldogs, the two-time defending SEC champs, moved into first place with 274 points. Georgia has a 25-point advantage over Tennessee. On the men's side, the Bulldogs slid into third place with 208 points. Auburn (301) and Florida (276) have the top two spots.
"You have to get points wherever you can in this meet," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "I thought our kids competed really well today. This was the kind of second day we really needed to make a push. I'm really proud of them, but we know it's a four-day war here, especially the last three days. This is a close meet. This meet is not for the faint of heart."
McDermott gave the Lady Bulldogs their third straight winner in the women's 500 freestyle as she posted a time of 4:37.15 - more than a second-and-a-half better than her nearest competitor. Shannon Vreeland, the 2011 winner, took third in 4:39.72 and Wendy Trott, the 2010 champ, was fourth in 4:39.93. Also for the Lady Bulldogs, Kelsey Gaid placed fifth in 4:40.59 and Jordan Mattern came in seventh in 4:42.69. In the consolation final, Nicole Vernon came in 13th with a time of 4:46.47.
"The 500 was a big deal," Bauerle said. "(Even with that many swimmers), we still have to get it done, so it's not real relaxing. Nothing's done until it's done. The kids did a great job. Having five in the final means an awful lot."
"All my hard work has paid off," McDermott said. "I usually take it out pretty fast, but I wasn't getting too comfortable because I know a lot of people have great back-halves. Shannon and I train together all the time, so it was really great to be on the podium together."
Melanie Margalis came in second in the women's 200 individual medley, touching in 1:55.78. Jana Mangimelli followed with a time of 1:55.99 for third place. Michelle McKeehan came in sixth in 1:58.89. Kristen Shickora won the consolation final with a time of 1:58.48 to take ninth. Shannon O'Malley placed 13th in 2:00.43.
Maddie Locus placed fourth in the women's 50 freestyle in 22.10. Lauren Harrington won the consolation final to come in ninth with a time of 22.54, while Jessica Graber was 16th in 23.04.
The women's 200 freestyle relay of Locus, Graber, Harrington and Megan Romano placed second with a time of 1:28.80.
Ann-Perry Blank placed 14th on women's 3-meter with 290.80 points.
The 2011 runner-up, Grodzki stopped the clock in the men's 500 freestyle in 4:16.94 to win by more than two full seconds. Andrew Gemmell came in fifth in 4:20.61 and Will Freeman placed seventh in 4:22.36. In the consolation final, Jameson Hill took 13th with a time of 4:27.40.
"I knew I was going to make my move at 250 or 300 at the latest," Grodzki said. "I saw that no one could go with me. At that point, I felt pretty good about it. My time was all right and was pretty good for not being tapered. I definitely wanted to win this year after finishing second last year."
Said Bauerle, "Grodzki is a tough kid. He's a great racer and he loves to compete."
Nic Fink came in third in the men's 200 individual medley with a time of 1:44.86. Jared Markham came in seventh in 1:47.22. Peter Benner won the consolation final to come in ninth with a time of 1:46.14.
Michael Arnold took sixth in the men's 50 freestyle with a time of 19.58.
The men's 200 freestyle relay of Arnold, Doug Reynolds, Hill and John Simmons came in fourth in 1:19.16. Arnold's lead-off split of 19.49 eclipsed Georgia's school record of 19.57 in 1993 - Georgia's longest-standing mark.
Owen Blank came in 12th on men's 1-meter springboard with 308.20 points.
Friday's action at the SEC Championships will include the 400 individual medley, the 100 butterfly, the 200 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke, the 100 backstroke, the 400 medley relay and men's platform diving. Prelims are scheduled for 10 a.m., with finals at 6 p.m.