For the first time since March, the University of Georgia swimming and diving team will return to competition as they travel to South Carolina for a dual meet Friday at the Carolina Natatorium in Columbia.
Due to the effort to practice social distancing during dual meets this season, the women will compete first at 10 a.m., followed by the men at 2 p.m. Friday’s meet is the first of a home-and-home series with the Gamecocks as South Carolina will travel to Athens on Saturday, Jan. 16.
Georgia opens its season carrying two of the preeminent teams in the nation, with the women ranked fourth and the men eighth in the CSCAA preseason poll announced Thursday. The Bulldogs return 43 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including 20 All-Americans, in addition to welcoming one of the country’s top recruiting classes.
Last season, both teams finished in the top four at the SEC Championships and were slated to send 22 competitors to the NCAA Championships before they were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The No. 4 Bulldog women are led by three returning SEC champions in senior Courtney Harnish, junior Dakota Luther, and sophomore Zoie Hartman. Harnish stands as one of the best freestylers in the nation, with SEC titles in the 500 and 1,650 under her belt, as well a silver medal in the 200. Luther turned in the nation’s third-fastest time in the 200 butterfly and joins with Harnish to anchor a strong fly group. Hartman, last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, set new records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, helping to bolster the breaststroke group along with senior Danielle Della Torre, who followed in second at SECs in each event.
Along with six additional All-Americans, the team welcomes freshmen Maxine Parker and Sloane Reinstein, who will bring international experience to the freestyle group. At the diving well, junior Ellie Crump leads the group after scoring in two events at SECs last season. She is joined by Zones qualifiers Kelliann Howell and Raquel Mason, as well as Pennsylvania state champion Meghan Wenzel and Missouri transfer Tally Brown.
On the men’s side, senior Camden Murphy and redshirt senior Javier Acevedo headline one of the strongest rosters in program history. Murphy enters this season with back-to-back titles in the 200 butterfly and a school record in the 100. Acevedo returns to the team following an Olympic redshirt year in 2019-20, bolstering a backstroke group that already saw great strides last season.
Seniors Greg Reed, Grant Norgan, Aaron Apel, and Jack Dalmolin look to improve upon career years last season and help push the Bulldogs over the top. Fellow senior Zach Allen returns following an All-American campaign in which he qualified for NCAAs on the 1-meter. Additionally, last year’s freshman crop of Ian Grum, Harry Homans, Dillon Downing, and Zach Hils provides strong depth.
The Bulldogs also welcome a heralded recruiting class that features top-ranked prospects Luca Urlando and Jake Magahey. Urlando won the U.S. national title in the 200-meter butterfly in 2019 and broke a National Age Group record in the event that previously belonged to Michael Phelps. Magahey, a teammate of Urlando’s on the U.S. Junior Worlds Team, holds the Public High School record in the 500 freestyle and won seven Georgia 6-7A state championships.
There will be no live broadcast of Friday’s meet, but live results will be available to subscribers on the MeetMobile app. Fans can check for live updates on Twitter at @UGASwimDive.