Led by Coach of the Year Jack Bauerle, Georgia won the women’s team title at the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships for the fourth straight year on Saturday at Texas A&M.
Georgia held off SEC newcomer and meet host Texas A&M for the team crown, which is the 10th in program history — all under Bauerle. The four straight titles is the second-longest streak in school history. The Lady Bulldogs won five consecutive crowns from 1997 through 2001. Georgia rolled up 1,420 points to Texas A&M’s 1,296.
“You’re always proud when you win the SEC, but I am especially proud this year,” Bauerle said. “This was a rugged meet, and our ladies showed a lot of character in winning it. We believed it was going to be a battle for five days and it was. We said coming in that we wanted to give it our best shot in every event and let the points take care of themselves. I think our ladies did just that. The end result is something we all can be happy about.”
Bauerle was chosen as the SEC Women’s Coach of the Year for the 14th time in his career. He also has been selected as the SEC Men’s Coach of the Year twice.
Megan Romano successfully defended her title in the women’s 100-yard freestyle as she stopped the clock in 47.40 Allison Schmitt, who redshirted last season while training for the Olympics, followed in second with a time of 47.95. Chantal Van Landeghem was sixth in 48.39, Shannon Vreeland took seventh in 48.65, Jessica Graber placed 21st in 49.37 and Maddie Locus was 24th in 50.35.
“Last year, this meet was really fun, but having Allison back makes this year more special,” Romano said. “Going 1-2 in this race is really great.”
The Lady Bulldogs punctuated their title by winning the 400-yard freestyle relay in record-setting fashion. The relay of Schmitt, Van Landeghem, Vreeland and Romano touched in 3:11.23, shattering the SEC mark of 3:12.00 set by Auburn in 2009.
Annie Zhu claimed second in the women’s 200-yard breaststroke, posting a time of 2:05.99 and eclipsing her own school mark of 2:07.62. Melanie Margalis came in fourth in 2:09.15, while Shannon O’Malley was 11th in 2:10.46, Megan Molnar placed 14th in 2:13.27 and Olivia Boggs took 18th in 2:12.30.
In the women’s 200-yard backstroke, Kelsey Gaid touched in 1:53.64 to come in fourth. Nicole Vernon placed 13th in 1:56.57 and Jordan Mattern was 17th in 1:54.89.
Amber McDermott came in fifth in the women’s 1,650-yard freestyle as she touched in 16:01.66. Brittany MacLean finished seventh in 16:02.35.
The Bulldogs came in third in the men’s race. Florida claimed team honors. The Bulldogs’ Chase Kalisz was selected as the SEC Male Freshman of the Year.
Will Freeman paced the Bulldogs in the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle as he placed second in 14:44.38. Martin Grodzki came in sixth in 14:59.66, followed by Matias Koski in seventh in 15:00.03, Andrew Gemmell in ninth in 15:04.34, Ediz Yildrimer in 10th in 15:08.10 and Garrett Powell in 14th in 15:12.53.
Nic Fink placed second in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:54.48. During prelims, he went 1:54.48 for the second-fastest time in school history. Kalisz came in sixth in 1:55.68, followed by Brett Roberson in eighth at 1:57.92 and Spencer Rowe in 17th at 1:57.88.
Ty Stewart led the way for the Bulldogs in the men’s 200-yard backstroke, coming in fourth with a time of 1:42.71, matching the second-fastest time in Georgia annals. Jared Markham followed in fifth in 1:43.73 and Garrett Powell was 16th in 1:45.79.
In the men’s 100-yard freestyle, Matt Ellis checked in fifth in 43.08. Ellis went 43.00 in prelims, breaking the school record of 43.26 set by Michael Arnold last season. The Bulldogs’ 400-yard freestyle relay of Ellis, Fink, Stewart and Koski placed fifth in 2:54.95.
ESPNU will air highlights of the SECs on Monday, March 4, at 4 p.m. for the women and 5:30 p.m. for the men.
Georgia will host its annual Bulldog Last Chance Meet on Saturday and Sunday at Gabrielsen Natatorium.