2016 Georgia Invite Preview: Kalisz, Litherland to Battle in 400 IM


  • Friday, December 2nd-Sunday, December 4th
  • Hosted by University of Georgia
  • 25 yards
  • Invite format

The Georgia Bulldogs are set to host their annual midseason invitational this weekend, with the action starting on Friday, December 2nd and ending on Sunday, December 4th. Prelims will begin at 9:30 am EST, while finals start at 5:00 p.m. EST. Sunday afternoon finals are the exception, as the session will start at 3:00 p.m. EST.

This week’s competition will include several races between Olympic medalists and NCAA Champions. Read on for a few of the notable races to look out for.


Following his Olympic redshirt last season, American Record holder Chase Kalisz is now back in action for the Bulldogs. The men’s 400 IM could potentially be one of the best races of the meet, as Kalisz, the Olympic silver medalist, and Georgia teammate Jay Litherland, an Olympic finalist, will be going head to head. We’ll also likely see that matchup in the 200 IM, with Cal’s Ryan Murphy, an Olympic backstroke champion, and UGA’s Gunnar Bentz, another U.S. Olympian, jumping in on the action as well.

In addition to the IMs, Kalisz will also be swimming the 200 breast. During his last NCAA season, he opted out of that race in favor of the 200 fly. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes a change in his 3rd event this season.


After sweeping the backstrokes at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and setting a new World Record, Ryan Murphy is looking to carry his momentum into his senior year with the Cal Golden Bears. Murphy hasn’t raced much yet this yards season, as his only meet so far has been the triple distance meet against Stanford. Even so, he was fast enough there to establish himself as the fastest swimmer in the nation up to that point in both backstrokes.

Auburn’s Joe Patching is another swimmer to look out for in the backstrokes. While he may not swim the 100 back, he’s the reigning SEC Champion in the 200 back, so we’ll likely see him enter that race. Georgia freshman Javier Acevedo could also be challenging for a top spot, as he’s been looking great for the Bulldogs so far.


Another 2016 Rio Olympian, Olivia Smoliga, will be representing Georgia on the women’s side. Smoliga has a very strong 2015-16 season, during which she won the 50 free and 100 free at the 2016 NCAA Championships. This season, however, she’ll be up against American Record holder Abbey Weitzeil, a Cal freshman who was also on the 2016 Olympic squad.

Other title contenders include Cal’s Farida Osman, Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey,and Georgia’s Chantal van Landeghem. Olympic champ Amanda Weir will also be competing at the meet as a postgrad.


Cal teammates Amy Bilquist and Kathleen Baker are both lightning fast backstrokers, so we could easily see them battling for the title in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. This summer in Rio, Baker was the Olympic silver medalist in the 100 back. Bilquist has been slightly faster in yards, however, as she’s the reigning Pac-12 champion in the 200 back.

Georgia’s Kylie Stewart and Olivia Smoliga may also be in the mix, as both have competed in the backstrokes at NCAAs. Smoliga also swam the 100 back for Team USA in Rio this summer, where she was a finalist.


  • Georgia
  • Cal
  • Auburn (men Only)
  • Florida State
  • Virginia
  • Michigan
  • UCLA (diving only)
  • Harvard (diving only)

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I guess Gunnar in the IMs is not worth mentioning in the headline

bobo gigi

Too bad there are 2 different big meets in the same state at the same time. 😥
I would have liked to watch Weitzeil, Smoliga, Murphy, Kalisz, Litherland, Baker, Bentz, Bilquist swim at US nationals in Atlanta. Very irritating.
Talking about Amy Bilquist, I expect big things from her this season. I continue to believe she has the all package to take the power of US women’s backstroke. She was close last summer. Her time will come.

bobo gigi

To irritate me well, what the distance between both universities Georgia (Georgia invite) and Georgia Tech (US nationals)?
Don’t tell me both are in Atlanta….

Sea Monster

University of Georgia is in Athens, Georgia. The cities are about 120 km from each other

bobo gigi

Of course NCAA and USA swimming are 2 separate organizations which each have their own life and their own competitions. But it remains unfortunate for swim fans to see 2 different meets conflict in the same era and prevent us from watching a much better competition with more world-class swimmers. One meet will be streamed this week, but probably not the best of both meets held in Georgia. Too bad for us. Hopefully next time these college teams will enter US nationals like Dressel and the Gators this year.

bobo gigi

Goodness, I’ve just read that Dressel was absent of today’s races in Atlanta…. 😥

JP name too short

No reason for him to take a week off classes, especially with finals so short. He did exactly what he needed to do at GTech two weekends ago.

JP name too short

Here’s the thing with winter invites – coaches have to balance a few things. if you use the meet as a qualifying attempt for NCAAs, you want to get as many second swims as possible to give your swimmers maximum chance to hit qualifying times. You also want to be able to see your team’s real depth chart when everybody has some rest, because coaches have to pick conference teams as all of these teams have more swimmers than the scoring max (not to mention it’ll be the first time seeing the freshmen on your team’s taper). You win conference titles on how many of your bottom half athletes can consistently score points, not on the top one or two… Read more »


The other really annoying thing with NCAA winter invites is exams. Florida has theirs starting in 8 days, but Indiana and Cal have 11 days, which could be enough of a difference to decide to bring the whole squad, or let some of those that need to focus on academics focus on academics. I think that’s why UGA is holding their own invite, and having it run Friday-Sunday instead of Thursday-Saturday. Sometimes its tough to remember that these athletes are not only training at an elite level (20 hours per week) AND working towards a degree at the same time.

The Grand Inquisitor

It only irritates you because you don’t understand the purpose of these meets. The point now is to put up qualifying times for the meet that matters in March with minimal rest and disruption to training. No swimmer or coach cares about head to head battles at this point in the season. In fact, the point is to give as many swimmers on your squad opportunities for evening swims. This is facilitated by dispersing competition.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She is now coaching for Loggerhead Aquatics in her hometown …

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