Feb. 19, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia Bulldogs jumped into third place and the Lady Bulldogs continued their undefeated streak in the 2014 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships on Wednesday in Gabrielsen Natatorium.
The No. 3 Lady Bulldogs extended their first-place lead to a score of 577 points. The Florida women's team is in second with 421 points. The No. 14 Bulldogs moved from seventh to third in Wednesday's competition with a final tally of 414 points. Auburn continues to lead the men's team race with 574 points. Florida is in second with 451.5.
"This meet is special," Senior Associate Head Coach Harvey Humphries said. "The attitude the swimmers have and how much they want to race is the difference. Every one of the girls knows that they're part of something special this year, and they want to keep it going."
The Lady Bulldogs opened the night with a podium sweep in the 500 freestyle. Brittany MacLean set a new SEC Championship and Gabrielsen Natatorium record with her NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:34.63. Shannon Vreeland and Amber McDermott took silver and bronze with A-cut times of 4:34.73 and 4:35.00, respectively. Rachel Zilinskas placed seventh, touching the wall at 4:39.31. Jordan Mattern had the second-best time in the consolation final and placed 10th overall with a time of 4:40.13
"My coach never lost faith in me and neither did my teammates," MacLean said. "I owed it to them this year, and I couldn't be happier."
Melanie Margalis took gold in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:52.87, shattering her previous Georgia record by nearly two seconds. Margalis also set new SEC Championship and Gabrielsen Natatorium records.
"I always go into [a race] thinking that I just want to score as many points for Georgia as I can," Margalis said. "But I don't think I've ever gotten as excited about an individual race that I've been in before because of my time. It feels really good."
Freshman Olivia Smoliga made Georgia history when she won the 50 freestyle and set new school and Gabrielsen Natatorium records with her A-cut time of 21.54. Maddie Locus took silver, clocking in at 21.67 and also earning an A cut. Smoliga and Locus now hold the first- and third-fastest times in the Georgia record books.
The Lady Bulldogs made even more waves in the 50 freestyle. Chantal Van Landeghem stopped the clock at 22.32, finishing in 10th place. Jessica Graber and Lauren Harrington also scored for the Lady Bulldogs with times of 22.58 and 22.64, respectively.
Annie Zhu, Hali Flickinger, Shannon O'Malley and Nicole Vernon also scored points for the Lady Bulldogs in the 200 individual medley. Zhu finished fourth with a time of 1:57.47, and Flickinger touched the wall at 1:58.63 to take seventh place. O'Malley claimed the 12th spot with her time of 1:58.89 while Vernon finished 19th at 1:58.90.
The Lady Bulldogs ended the night in gold medal fashion. The 200 freestyle relay team of Smoliga, Locus, Graber and Van Landeghem posted a time of 1:27.09 to set yet another Gabrielsen Natatorium record.
The Bulldogs earned their first points of evening with Spencer Madanay's score of 307.00 in the 1-meter diving. Madanay finished in 13th place.
In the men's 500 freestyle, Matias Koski claimed his spot on the podium with a third-place and A-cut time of 4:14.96. Will Freeman touched the wall fourth at 4:17.10, and Andrew Gemmell placed sixth with a time of 4:17.69. Garrett Powell won the consolation final with a 4:17.21 swim, placing ninth overall. Alec Cohen claimed the 12th spot, clocking in at 4:20.18.
Chase Kalisz secured another medal for the Bulldogs, taking the bronze with a time of 1:42.53 in the men's 200 individual medley. Nicolas Fink touched the wall next at 1:43.03 in the fourth spot with Ty Stewart's sixth-place time of 1:44.03 moments behind. Jared Markham also scored for Georgia, finishing 11th with 1:45.40 on the clock.
The men's relay team of Trice, Fink, Powell and Doug Reynolds recorded an eighth-place finish with a time of 1:18.64.
The Georgia swimmers and divers will return to Gabrielsen Natatorium on Thursday for the third day of the 2014 SEC Championships. Swimmers and divers will compete in the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and 3-meter diving. Visit georgiadogs.com for ticket information.