Feb. 17, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia swimming and diving teams will be competing in the new-look Southeastern Conference Championships this week.
The five-day meet -- the first of its kind since Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league -- will be held Tuesday through Saturday at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium in College Station, Texas.
"A strong conference got even stronger with the new teams," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "If you look at the top times across the country this year, many of them are from the SEC. This is going to be a fast meet, and it won't be for the faint of heart. The SEC has the best conference championship in the country. I think everything gets filtered on down from football to the other sports, and the competitive atmosphere is second to none in the SEC."
Bauerle's Lady Bulldogs have won nine SEC titles, including each of the last three. But Georgia's quest for a fourth straight won't be an easy one as Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M and Arkansas have appeared in the top 20 this season. On the men's side, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and Texas A&M have joined the Bulldogs in the top 20.
"We just have to control what we can control," Bauerle said. "The only thing you can do is swim as fast as you can and let the chips fall where they may. I just want to see everybody get up and do their best and score as many points as possible. If our kids do their best, that will be enough for me because I know how good they can be."
Allison Schmitt -- who missed last year's SECs while redshirting and training for the London Olympics -- has the nation's fastest time in the 200 freestyle this season. Megan Romano is the SEC leader in the 50 and 100 freestyle, while Melanie Margalis has the top time in the 200 individual medley. The Lady Bulldogs also boast the country's fastest efforts in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays this season. Laura Ryan has the league's best score in platform diving. On the men's side, Matias Koski is the league leader in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle.
There will be live streams on ESPN3.com from the SEC Championships finals on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ESPNU then will air 90-minute highlight shows on March 4 at 4 p.m. for the women and 5:30 p.m. for the men.
In addition to having depth at the 2013 SECs, Georgia boasts several past champions.
For the Bulldogs, Martin Grodzki won the 1,650 freestyle each of the last three years (extending Georgia's streak to eight straight titles in that event). Grodzki also won the 500 freestyle last year. Nic Fink won the 100 and 200 breaststroke and Doug Reynolds took the 100 butterfly a year ago.
Romano won the 100 and 200 freestyle last year, while Schmitt claimed the 200 freestyle in 2010 and Shannon Vreeland and Amber McDermott won the 500 freestyle in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Romano, Schmitt, Vreeland, Margalis and Jordan Mattern have been on SEC-winning relays as well.