. Video: Morgan Weeks/Bulldawg Illustrated
Georgia swimmers set 5 school records and 1 SEC record on Friday evening, the fourth day of the 2014 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships.
Heading into the final day of competition, the No. 3 Lady Bulldogs lead the field with 1098 points. The Texas A&M women’s team is second with a score of 911. The No. 10 Bulldogs continue their third-place position with 806 points. Florida leads the men’s race with 1097.5 points, and Auburn is in second with 1017.5 points.
“We did really, really well today,” Assistant Coach Stefanie Williams said. “We feel pretty confident [going into the final day of competition]. The kids have done a nice job in the morning to put themselves in position to score points. Tomorrow morning will be a pretty tough morning because of all the days of competition, but we’ve got to make sure we get in a good warm up and see how we do.”
Hali Flickinger kicked off the night for the Lady Bulldogs with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:53.62 in the 200 butterfly, a new personal best and the third fastest time in the country this year. Lauren Harrington finished in sixth, stopping the clock at 1:56.14. Coming in eighth was Courtney Peters with a time of 1:57.35
Freshman Olivia Smoliga shattered the previous Georgia record in the 100 backstroke, clocking in with an A-cut time of 51.00. Smoliga placed second to Texas A&M’s Paige Miller who finished in 50.91, a new Gabrielsen Natatorium record.
In the 100 breaststroke, Annie Zhu, Shannon O’Malley, Emily Cameron and Olivia Boggs scored for Georgia. Zhu won the consolation final with a personal best time of 59.55, placing ninth overall. O’Malley clocked in with the 12th-best time of 1:00.49, Cameron was 13th at 1:01.00 and Boggs finished in 1:01.47 to claim the 15th spot. The event was highlighted by Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson whose winning time of 57.28 set new SEC, American, NCAA and U.S. Open records.
The Lady Bulldogs closed the night with a Georgia record-breaking swim from the 400 medley relay team of Smoliga, Melanie Margalis, Lauren Harrington and Shannon Vreeland. The team posted an A-cut time of 3:29.87, the second-best time in the country this year. The relay team from Texas A&M took gold in 3:29.03.
Nicolas Fink was the highlight of the evening for Georgia, setting a new SEC record of 51.25 in the 100 breaststroke. Fink also broke his own school record and made Georgia history to become the only swimmer to win gold in the event three times at the SEC Championships.
“I’m just so happy that all the hard work has been paying off,” Fink said. “I’m so happy that my teammates and family are here to enjoy it with me. It’s just an incredible experience being here.”
Chase Kalisz took the silver medal in the 200 butterfly with an A-cut time of 1:41.74, moving him to No. 5 all-time in the Georgia record books. Florida’s Sebastien Rousseua finished first with a new SEC and Gabrielsen Natatorium mark of 1:41.07. Ty Stewart finished fourth with a personal best time of 1:42.93. Freshman Pace Clark won the consolation final and placed ninth overall with a 1:43.58 swim, the eighth fastest time in the country this year. Clark also set a new personal best by more than two seconds.
Freshman Taylor Dale set a new Georgia record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 45.98. Dale’s time, fourth best in the country this year, won him the silver medal. Doug Reynolds finished in the 13th spot with a time of 47.52.
“I’m really excited about that swim,” Dale said. “I’m having the best swims of my life right now so I just can’t wait until we get to a bigger level meet and I see what I can do.”
Spencer Madanay posted a platform diving score of 313.20, placing 13th in the event and scoring for Georgia.
The Bulldogs concluded the fourth day of competition with a thriller 400 medley relay race. The team of Dale, Fink, Reynolds and Michael Trice finished a close second to Florida’s team with an A-cut time of 3:05.55, the second-best time in the country this year. It also set a new Georgia record by more than three seconds.
Georgia will return to Gabrielsen Natatorium on Saturday for the fifth and final day of the SEC Championships. Swimmers and divers will compete in the following events: 1,650 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 400 freestyle relay and 1650 freestyle. Visit georgiadogs.com for ticket information.