Jay Litherland, Brittany MacLean and Matias Koski earned individual titles to highlight Georgia’s showing on Thursday in the Southeastern Conference Championships at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.
The No. 2-ranked Lady Bulldogs closed the night in third place with 584.5 points, following a win from MacLean in the 200 freestyle. Georgia trails Texas A&M, who leads with 657.5 points, and Tennessee with 645.5 points.
On the men’s side, the No. 3 Bulldogs finished the night in third with 572 points and were led by wins from Litherland in the 400 individual medley and Koski in the 200 freestyle. Florida leads the meet with 723 points, followed by Auburn with 669 points.
“Being an individual champion in this conference is a real chore,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “Having three more today means the world to us. We are so proud of Brit, Jay and Matias. All three of them raced hard and with a purpose and got to the walls first. I am proud of the way our teams are competing. This is a fun meet, an exciting meet. We’ve got a couple of more days and we’re going to keep giving it everything we have. We’re just going to keep punching.”
Litherland, a sophomore, won the men’s 400 individual medley in 3:40.33, also setting a pool record. Litherland’s win was the Bulldogs’ fourth consecutive and 10th overall in the event.
“Winning the 400 IM means a lot to me,” Litherland said. “We put in so much hard work and training, and getting to race these guys is awesome. It really was a great race for everyone. After the breaststroke, I was (2.68 seconds) behind and I didn’t know if I could catch up. I was kind of blacking out toward the end, but I saw him and I knew I wanted to do it for the Bulldogs.”
Koski, a senior, defended his 2015 title in the men’s 200 freestyle, posting a time of 1:33.43. Koski’s win is Georgia’s third overall title in the event. This is also the first year that Georgia has won both the men and women’s 200 freestyle.
“During the race, I was focusing really hard,” Koski said. “I was trying to bounce back from yesterday because yesterday wasn’t the greatest day for me. It was definitely awesome to defend my title, especially since it’s my senior year. There’s still room for improvement and I want to help the team finish as strong as possible.”
MacLean, a senior, earned her second individual title of the meet, posting a 1:43.64 in the women’s 200 freestyle, also a pool record. MacLean’s win represents Georgia’s fifth win in the last seven years and the 11th win overall.
Meaghan Raab followed MacLean in second in 1:44.61. Shauna Lee earned 10th in 1:46.42 and Stephanie Peters reached the wall in 1:47.22, earning 20th.
“Winning the 200 feels great and having (teammate Meaghan) Raab right there with me was awesome,” MacLean said. “Right now, we’re just trying to get our team back on top. Everyone is giving her all and I’m so proud of the way we’ve trained and the way we’re swimming. A few things haven’t gone our way, but we’re ready to fight the next couple of days. This is the toughest team I’ve ever been a part of.”
Emily Cameron finished fourth in the women’s 400 individual medley, reaching the wall in 4:06.70. Kylie Stewart paced the Lady Bulldogs in the women’s 100 butterfly as she took fourth in 52.13, while Caitlin Casazza came in 12th in 53.21 and Courtney Weaver 20th in 53.80.
In the men’s 400 individual medley, Gunnar Bentz finished fourth (3:43.73), Aidan Burns touched in 11th (3:47.34), James Guest came in 14th (3:48.72) and Mick Litherland finished 16th (3:50.33).
Pace Clark tied for fourth in the men’s 100 butterfly, touching in 46.14, while Taylor Dale earned 11th in 46.90 and Ty Stewart tied for 18th in 47.30. Jay Litherland finished 10th in the 200 freestyle in 1:35.22 while his brother Kevin earned 15th in 1:36.83.
The SEC Championships will continue on Friday with the 100 backstroke, the 100 breaststroke, the 200 butterfly, men’s platform diving and the 400 medley relay. Prelims will start at 11 a.m. and finals will begin at 7 p.m. Sessions can be viewed on SEC Network +.