Individual titles by Hali Flickinger and Olivia Smoliga highlighted Georgia’s efforts on Friday in the Southeastern Conference Championships at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.
The No. 2-ranked Lady Bulldogs ended the night in third with 815.5 points as Flickinger won the 200 butterfly and Smoliga claimed the 100 backstroke. The Lady Bulldogs trail Texas A&M’s 847.5 points and Tennessee’s 828.5 points.
On the men’s side, the No. 3 Bulldogs stand third with 802 points, trailing Florida’s 982 points and Auburn’s 952 points.
“We didn’t get off to a blazing start but we’ve gotten better,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “We had some great swims tonight. Smoliga and Flickinger had great wins and Pace Clark came really close. He set an SEC record this morning and he’s unshaved, so he’s going to haul. We are really happy with tonight.”
Flickinger, a senior, started the night off strong, finishing first in the women’s 200 butterfly in 1:52.62. Her win was a pool record and the fifth overall win in the 200 butterfly for Georgia.
Behind Flickinger, Megan Kinsley reached the wall in 1:53.92, placing third, and Caitlin Casazza finished ninth in 1:56.47.
“I had a time in mind,” Flickinger said. “I just tried to race- it’s what SECs are all about. I always watch Megan (Kingsley) because she has the best underwaters. It’s always great having Georgia people next to me both for nerves and also because we know how the other one swims. It’s always nice to have another Georgia cap.”
Olivia Smoliga, a junior, earned her second individual title of the meet, winning the women’s 100 backstroke in 50.80. Smoliga’s win is her second consecutive in the 100 backstroke and Georgia’s sixth overall. Smoliga also won the 50 freestyle earlier in the meet.
“I felt good, surprisingly,” Smoliga said. “It was a little tough to warm up this morning. After a day off yesterday, I had to do a longer warm up. As a team, our entire mentality changed in terms of the team standings. We are fired up and ready to race. A lot of girls stepped up to the plate and we are still in it.”
Smoliga, Annie Zhu, Kylie Stewart and Flickinger combined for second in the women’s 400-medley relay in 3:30.83.
In the women’s 100 backstroke, Stewart touched fourth in 51.91 and Kimberlee John-Williams placed 24th in 55.04.
Zhu stopped the clock in 1:00.38 in the women’s 100 breaststroke, placing eighth and Caitlin Casazza reached the wall in 1:01.33, finishing 12th.
Pace Clark took second in the men’s 200 butterfly in 1:40.80, swimming under the previous SEC record. Gunnar Bentz claimed third in 1:41.56, Mick Litherland earned seventh in 1:43.84, Powell Brooks finished 10th in 1:44.50, Ty Stewart stopped the clock in 1:44.77 for 11th and Blake Atmore won the consolation final for 17th in 1:45.48.
Taylor Dale finished second in the men’s 100 backstroke in 45.48 and Nick Salyers claimed 16th in 48.00.
In the men’s 100 breaststroke, James Guest stopped the clock in 54.44, claiming 16th. Colin Monaghan finished 20th in 54.42 and John Mattern placed 23rd in 55.10.
The men’s 400-medley relay comprised of Dale, Bentz, Clark and Michael Tric2e finished sixth in 3:08.01.
Spencer Madanay finished 20th in the men’s platform diving with 259.60 points.
The SEC Championships will conclude on Saturday with the 1650 freestyle, the 200 backstroke, the 100 freestyle, the 200 breaststroke, women’s platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay. Prelims will start at 11 a.m., the 1650 freestyle will start at 3:30 p.m. and finals will begin at 7 p.m. Sessions can be viewed on SEC Network +.