The Georgia swimming and diving teams will be seeking league titles as they compete in the Southeastern Conference Championships Tuesday through Saturday at the Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Mo.
The meet will begin each day with swimming prelims at 11 a.m., followed by diving prelims at noon on Tuesday and 2 p.m. all other days. Finals will start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and at 7 p.m. all other days. Sessions can be viewed on SEC Network +.
The No. 1-ranked Lady Bulldogs (9-0, 4-0 SEC) have won the conference title each of the last six seasons and 12 times overall. The No. 3 Bulldogs (8-1, 4-0 SEC) placed second last season after three straight third-place showings.
“Eight of the 10 men’s teams and eight of the 12 women’s teams are ranked in the top 25, so there’s no question it will be a high-level meet,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “Championship meets like this and the NCAAs are much more grueling and taxing than dual meets because you have to come back day after day to perform. I think we have two teams that can excel in this format because we train hard and we’re consistent. It’s going to be tough every day, but it’s what we’ve prepared for. Every point is going to count, so it’s going to be important to get your hand on that wall just as fast as you can.
“This is such a great meet. You just have to buckle up and get ready for a fight because it’s really, really competitive. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, there’s pride on the line whenever you have your SEC Championships.”
Olivia Smoliga (50 and 100 freestyle), Hali Flickinger (200 freestyle and 200 butterfly), Matias Koski (200 freestyle) and Jay Litherland (400 individual medley) have the nation’s top times in their events. In addition, Smoliga (100 backstroke), Brittany MacLean (500 and 1,650 freestyle), Taylor Dale (100 backstroke), Pace Clark (200 butterfly) and Gunnar Bentz (200 individual medley) have conference-leading times.
Georgia can claim several past conference champions on its current rosters. For the Bulldogs, Koski won the 2013 500 freestyle and the 2015 200 and 1,650 freestyles, while Ty Stewart claimed the 200 individual medley last season. On the women’s side, Smoliga boasts four wins — the 2014 and 2015 50 freestyle, the 2014 100 freestyle and the 2015 100 backstroke ― and has been on five victorious relays. MacLean took the 2014 500 and 1,650 freestyles, while Flickinger won the 2015 400 individual medley and Olivia Ball claimed the 2015 3-meter springboard. MacLean (two) and Flickinger (one) have been on winning relays.
The Lady Bulldogs wound up No. 1 in the final CSCAA / TYR Top 25. Other SEC schools in the poll were No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 9 Florida, No. 11 Auburn, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 20 LSU, No. 21 Missouri and No. 23 Alabama. In the men’s poll, the Bulldogs finished third, while Florida was No. 5, Auburn was No. 6, Tennessee was No. 10, Alabama was No. 11, Missouri was No. 13, Texas A&M was No. 24 and LSU was No. 25. Georgia’s teams defeated Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and Tennessee in dual meets this season.
• The female members of Georgia’s senior class finished with a 40-1-1 dual meet record and they were undefeated in their last 32 meets (31-0-1). The Bulldogs were solid as well, going 32-8.
• With 17 wins this season (nine with the women and eight with the men), Bauerle now has 531 combined victories, which ranks third on the all-time list. Boston College’s Tom Groden has 656, followed by Johns Hopkins and North Carolina coach Frank Comfort with 578. Bauerle and Groden are the only coaches with 300 victories coaching women. Bauerle has 310 with the women and 221 with the men.
• The Lady Bulldogs completed the dual meet portion of the season with a 9-0 record ― the 14th undefeated season in school history. Four of the previous squads went on to win the NCAA title, last accomplished by the 2014 Lady Bulldogs, who were 10-0-1.
• Five Georgia student-athletes earned eight SEC weekly honors during the regular season. James Guest was chosen as the Male Freshman of the Week three times. Flickinger earned Female Swimmer of the Week accolades twice, while Koski (Male), Smoliga (Female) and MacLean (Female) also earned Swimmer of the Week certificates.
• Georgia assistant coach Stefanie Williams, who was a 28-time All-American for the Lady Bulldogs, spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Missouri from 2006 through 2008.
• Senior Nick Salyers and junior Emily Cameron are Georgia’s representatives on the SEC’s Good Works Team.