Sept. 24, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia swimming and diving teams hung new banners at Gabrielsen Natatorium during the summer, and they hope to add even more following this season.
The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a 2012-13 campaign in which they claimed the NCAA championship for the fifth time in the program's history and won the SEC title for the fourth consecutive year. Allison Schmitt picked up the Honda Award and was named the SEC Female Athlete of the Year for all sports, while Jack Bauerle was recognized as the National and SEC Women's Coach of the Year. On the men's side, the Bulldogs came in third at the SECs and 10th at the NCAAs. That was Georgia's 10th top-10 finish in the last 12 years.
On Wednesday, the quest for more hardware will resume. Georgia's teams will entertain Kentucky at 2 p.m. in a rare September meet that will have a double distance format.
"This is the earliest meet we've ever had in my coaching career," Bauerle said. "But we're trying something cool. Well, we think it's cool, but the swimmers probably won't agree. A double distance meet is certainly different, and it will help because the kids won't think about where they are. Swimmers measure themselves by time whenever they get in the water. The off distances will still keep us competing, but they will be longer than usual and harder in a way."
Some of the events on tap for Wednesday include the 150, 300 and 2,000 freestyle; the 150 and 300 backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly; and the 300 individual medley.
"The kids are prepared for it," said Bauerle, who is beginning his 35th year with the Lady Bulldogs and his 31st with the Bulldogs. "It's like any sport in that you practice and practice and practice. They're ready to see someone else. We've never done a meet like this before, but I think it's important to shake things up from time to time."
The Lady Bulldogs will be led this season by seniors Ann-Perry Blank, Jessica Graber, Ansley Long, Melanie Margalis, Laura Ryan and Shannon Vreeland. Margalis, Vreeland, junior Jordan Mattern and sophomores Brittany MacLean and Chantal Van Landeghem all have NCAA titles on their resumes.
The Bulldogs boast a senior class of Will Freeman, Andrew Gemmell, Jameson Hill, Doug Reynolds and Christian Riess. Sophomore Chase Kalisz won the 400 individual medley at last year's NCAAs and he also claimed the 200 and 400 individual medley titles at the SECs. Junior Nicolas Fink and sophomore Matias Koski were league champions in the 100 breaststroke and 500 freestyle, respectively, a year ago.
The Lady Bulldogs will be trying to extend their home win streak on Wednesday. They have not lost a dual meet at Gabrielsen Natatorium since 1995, winning 82 straight in that span to set the school record for all sports.
Admission to Wednesday's meet inside the Ramsey Center is free.