UGA Swimming and Diving Opens SEC Championships with Strong Performance
UGA Swimming and Diving
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 01:58
Author: Greg Poole
Olivia Ball (Photo by John Kelley)
Georgia captured an individual diving title and a relay crown as the SEC Championships opened Tuesday at Auburn’s James E. Martin Aquatics Center.
After the initial day of competition, the second-ranked Lady Bulldogs, who have won a school-record-tying five straight conference titles, stand second with 148 points behind LSU’s 164 points. The No. 8 Bulldogs are in third place with 146 points, trailing Auburn (177) and Tennessee (164).
Freshman Olivia Ball claimed the women’s 3-meter springboard title with 375.80 points. She secured the eighth and final spot in the finals with 318.80 points in prelims, just 1.5 points out of ninth.
“It’s really exciting to win and I’m so happy,” Ball said, “I was literally shaking the entire time. I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept reminding myself to stay calm and not freak out. I didn’t watch anything else. I just got in my zone and listened to my music and didn’t pay attention to anything else.”
Georgia has won the last three SEC titles — the first in school history — on 3-meter as Ball joined 2013 and 2014 champion Laura Ryan.
The Lady Bulldogs also kept alive an impressive run in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The team of Jordan Mattern, Brittany MacLean, Amber McDermott and Hali Flickinger stopped the clock in 6:55.69, the fastest time in the country this year. Georgia has won the 800 freestyle relay six straight years and 11 times overall.
“We’re really excited about our first day,” McDermott said. “I think our 800 free relay set the tone and we’re excited about the rest of the meet. The key to the relay is to just have fun. We enjoy this relay and it’s nice that we were able to win it again.”
The Lady Bulldogs came in fourth in the 200-yard medley relay as Olivia Smoliga, Annie Zhu, Lauren Harrington and Chantal Van Landeghem touched in 1:36.88.
The Georgia men placed third in every event on Tuesday.
Ian Forlini claimed the bronze on 1-meter springboard with 404.80 points, while Crawford Berry took 16th in prelims with 287.70 points. The 200-yard medley relay of Taylor Dale, Nicolas Fink, Ty Stewart and Michael Trice got to the wall in 1:24.86. And the 800-yard freestyle relay of Matias Koski, Chase Kalisz, Alec Cohen and Gunnar Bentz stopped the clock in 6:18.27.
“I thought it was a good night for us,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “You never know what to expect on the first night, and this was a little bit of a wild one. It was a really good night. Was it perfect? No, but it turned out very well. You can lose it on the first day, especially with relay exchanges, so we did a good job. The meet begins in earnest for us on Wednesday, so we’ll know even more this time tomorrow.”
The SEC Championships will continue on Wednesday and will run through Saturday. Prelims will start at 11 a.m. EST, followed by diving prelims at 2 p.m. Finals will begin at 7 p.m. There will be live streams of all sessions on SEC Network +.