It was senior Day at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on Saturday as the Georgia Bulldogs hosted the Texas Longhorns, and the crowd of nearly 500 fans certainly weren’t let down by the action in the pool as Georgia closed-out their dual-meet schedule.
The Bulldog women topped the Longhorns 143-100, while the Texas men held off Georgia to win 132-109. For the Georgia women, that marks their 82nd-straight home victory, despite the team battling a touch of the flu that has been ripping around the North American continent.
The Longhorn men used big diving performances to hold off some great late swims from the Bulldogs for this victory. The meet culminated in the final 400 free relay that saw Georgia freshman Matias Koski squared up against Texas senior Dax Hill on the anchor leg. Hill hit the water with about a four-tenths of a second lead, and right when the Longhorns needed it most, he put up his best swim of the last two meets with a 44.1 anchor. That held off an equally-impressive swim by Koski (43.91) to give Texas a win in the meet and the relay in 2:58.80; Georgia was 2nd in 2:58.93.
Georgia made a big push at the end of the meet, including finishing 1-4 in the 200 breaststroke against a challenged Longhorn breaststroke group. That includes freshman Chase Kalisz, in his second career college meet, showing his value again with a big 1:59.29 victory. Georgia, however, couldn’t recover from being manhandled in diving, where Texas went 1-3 on both springboards and Georgia had only the 4th-place scorer.
For Texas, the highlight of the meet was Michael McBroom having another great meet to take out the powerful Georgia distance group with a 4:25.18 in the 500 free and a 9:03.10 in the 1000 free. In both cases, Andrew Gemmell was 2nd in 4:26.5 and 9:07.60, respectively.
Gemmell, despite being the runner-up in both races, will walk away from those swims feeling very good about where his season is going. He’s a swimmer who always counts on a really big taper, and he’s a few seconds ahead of pace in both races so far this season.
Eddie Reese, coach of the Texas men’s team, was much happier with this result than he was with those against Auburn earlier this week.
“We were much better in all phases of the game, had a little more speed than at Auburn,” Reese said by comparison. “We were a lot better at racing,” and that clearly showed in the results.
On the women’s side, this was Texas head coach Carol Capitani’s big homecoming; before taking over the Texas team this year, she was an associate head coach under Jack Bauerle for a decade.
Georgia didn’t cut her any breaks in her return home, though, as they continue to persevere through some hardship this season for another win. They kicked things off with a win in the 400 medley relay in 3:38.13, including very good splits of 53.17 from Lauren Harrington on the fly leg and a 48.9 anchor from Olympic Champion Allison Schmitt. Harrington is really coming into her own as a butterflier, and thus allowing Megan Romano to push to the backstroke leg and Schmitt to the freestyle leg of this relay. All-of-a-sudden, the Bulldogs’ medley is shaping up as one of the best in the country, inching them back into the National Championship picture against Cal.
Schmitt would take the win in the 200 free, ahead of teammate Shannon Vreeland, 1:47.16. Though Alex Hooper was only in 3rd place, and not scoring big points, a good 1:48.17 will leave her pleased with the swim. Schmitt took only 3rd in the 500 free (4:50.70) behind Vreeland (4:48.57) and sophomore Amber McDermott (4:49.33). Between this swim and McDermott’s win in the 1000 in 9:47, she’s really getting back into shape after missing some time with an injury earlier this year.
Texas’ Ellen Lobb ended up on the right end of the 50 free this time; after falling to Auburn’s Hannah Riordan by .01 on Thursday, she beat National Teamer Megan Romano by the same margin on Saturday in Athens. What’s even better is that the times were exactly the same as they were on Thursday – 22.91 to 22.92 – an important reminder to the importance of every hundredth on every swim.
We still haven’t seen a championship meet from the Texas women, but despite two-straight losses (to top ten teams), Capitani’s first year with Texas seems to be going really well.