Feb. 18, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ---The Georgia women's swimming and diving team won its third consecutive Southeastern Conference title in convincing fashion on Saturday at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center on the Tennessee campus.
The Lady Bulldogs rolled up 781 points over the four-day meet. Tennessee was second with 629.5 points. The title is the ninth, all under Coach Jack Bauerle, in school history. Three straight championships is the second-longest streak in school history, trailing only the five earned from 1997 to 2001.
"This was a great meet, and I could not be prouder of our ladies," Bauerle said. "It's always nice to get to hold that trophy on the last day. Winning a title in this conference is no small feat. Teams just keep fighting and fighting. That's what I like about our team. We have fighters too, and they don't back down from a challenge. They are a tough bunch. As a coach, you always want to see effort and consistency. That's what we have with this group. They deserve this title. This is a feeling that never gets old."
In the men's meet, the Bulldogs came in third with 521 points. Team honors went to Auburn with 730.5 points. Said Bauerle, "Our men sometimes get overshadowed by our ladies, but they had a heck of a meet too. They really battled and gave us great effort. Some of our young guys really grew up this weekend. We're enjoying what's going on right now, and we feel like we have a bright future with our men's team."
Wendy Trott set the stage for Saturday's fireworks as she won the women's 1,650 freestyle title in 15:47.05, setting the SEC record in the process. Trott became the first woman in SEC history to claim the league title four times. She also is the sixth Lady Bulldog to win four SEC titles in the same event. Amber McDermott placed fifth in 16:09.78. Sommers Creed swam an exhibition, meaning her time did not count in the competition, but she had a 16:33.15, which would have been good enough for 11th.
"It feels great," Trott said. "The thing about all of this that means the most to me is being able to put Georgia in the books. Georgia has so many special records like this and for me to be a part of them is very special."
"It was my last individual race so I wanted to do it for the team," Romano said. "I just wanted to get the points a little higher than they are right now."
Michelle McKeehan earned the gold in the women's 200 breaststroke as she stopped the clock in an A-cut time of 2:08.73. Jana Mangimelli was third in 2:09.95, Melanie Margalis took fourth in 2:10.05 and Shannon O'Malleywas 10th in 2:12.08.
"This is so exciting," McKeehan said. "It has been an amazing experience. Being a senior and seeing it from this perspective for my last time here, it has been so much fun to feed off of the energy from the crowd."
In the women's 200 butterfly, Lauren Harringtontouched in 1:58.34 for sixth place.
The women's 400 freestyle relay of Locus, Vreeland, Margalis and Romano was second in 3:13.52.
Ann-Perry Blankcame in fifth on women's platform diving with 262.10 points.
Martin Grodzki paced the Bulldogs on Saturday with his third consecutive SEC title in the men's 1,650 freestyle. Grodzki stopped the clock in an A-cut time of 14:48.26 to give Georgia its eighth straight win in the mile. Andrew Gemmell was fourth in 15:01.65 and Will Freemantook fifth in 15:05.33.
"It obviously feels good to win again, although I'm unhappy with my time," Grodzki said. "But pulling it out at the end felt good. I'm really looking forward to the NCAAs when I'll be fully shaved and tapered, but I am proud to win for third time here."
"It feels great knowing my whole team is right behind me," Fink said. "It's all a team effort and I'm glad I could do that and help out."
Jared Markham came in third in the men's 200 backstroke, touching in 1:43.96. Michael Arnold was 10th in the men's 100 freestyle in 43.75. Peter Bennerwas 10th in the men's 200 butterfly in 1:47.40, while Freeman took 16th in 1:50.70.
The men's 400 freestyle relay of Reynolds, Fink, Hill and Arnold was fourth in 2:55.35.
McDermott and Fink were chosen as the SEC Freshmen of the Year.
ESPNU will televise highlights from the SECs on a tape-delay basis. The men's meet will air Monday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m., and the women's meet will air Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.
Georgia's teams will be back in action Saturday and Sunday at Gabrielsen Natatorium hosting the Bulldog Last Chance Meet. The Lady Bulldogs will compete in the NCAA Championships March 15-17 in Auburn, while the Bulldogs will head to the NCAAs in Federal Way, Wash., March 22-24.