Dec. 1, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia swimming and diving teams will host the Georgia Invitational this weekend in a meet Coach Jack Bauerle calls "a dress rehearsal" for the upcoming championship season.
The Georgia Invitational will take place Friday through Sunday at Gabrielsen Natatorium inside the Ramsey Center. The prelims will begin at 9:30 a.m. each day, with finals set for 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and for 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission to all six sessions is free.
The Georgia Invitational is set up similarly to what the Bulldogs and the Lady Bulldogs will see at the SEC and NCAA Championships in February and March, respectively. This meet is a stark contrast from a dual meet in which Georgia goes head to head against a single team in a two-hour, one-day session.
"It's real different," Bauerle said. "You have to be tough day in and day out, morning and night. If you don't swim well in the prelims, you won't find your spot in the finals. This meet is a good benchmark for us. We'll find out who we are and what we are right now, and we'll get better. We'll know where we stand after this weekend. It will expose a few weaknesses, but it will tell us where we're strong, too."
"This is a great test to see where our training is," sophomore distance swimmer Andrew Gemmell said. "It's a different format for racing and it's a different test for us. It's a good chance to see where we stand in the country. It would be nice to go a time this weekend that gets you into the NCAAs. If you can reach that goal, it takes the pressure off at the SECs. We've had some great competitions this fall, and this will be a really, really fast meet."
Joining Georgia at this weekend's meet will be Cal, Auburn, Virginia, Indiana, UNC-Wilmington and Harvard's women, along with divers from Florida, Alabama and Maryland.
The women's meet is highlighted by the matchup of No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Cal. A year ago, the Golden Bears held off the Lady Bulldogs to win the NCAA title. Florida is No. 4, Auburn is No. 6, Indiana is No. 14, Virginia is No. 18 and Maryland is No. 19 in the latest CSCAA rankings. On the men's side, the meet features No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 Cal (the defending NCAA champion), No. 7 Florida, No. 9 Georgia, No. 14 Indiana and No. 21 Virginia.
"We're excited about the competition," Bauerle said. "This is the best invite in the country by far. We've had fast meets here in other years, and we expect another one this weekend."
The Lady Bulldogs' Wendy Trott is the national leader in the 1,000 freestyle, and she will be swimming the 1,650 freestyle for the first time this season. Trott is the three-time NCAA champion in the mile. She also ranks first in the SEC and fourth in the country in the 500 freestyle. For the men, Will Freeman leads the nation in the 1,000 freestyle, while Martin Grodzki is second in the SEC and third in the country and Gemmell is fourth in the SEC and sixth in the nation. Jameson Hill is the SEC leader in the 200 freestyle.