2023 Georgia Invite: Day 3 Prelims Live Recap

2023 Georgia Invitational

  • November 16-18, 2023
  • Gabrielsen Natatorium, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
  • Prelims start at 9:30AM Eastern, Finals at 5:30 PM Eastern
  • Participating teams: #3M/#6W Florida, #13M/#25W Auburn, #17M/#15W Michigan, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Wisconsin (diving)
  • Live Stream Links (different per session)
  • Results on Meet Mobile: “UGA Fall Invitational 2023”

WOMEN’S 200-YARD BACK – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 1:47.24 – Beata Nelson, Wisconsin (2019)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:50.50
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 1:53.34

Top 8:

  1. Bella Sims (FLOR) — 1:51.15
  2. Catherine Choate (FLOR) — 1:53.73
  3. JoJo Ramey (FLOR) — 1:54.60
  4. Kensley Merritt (AUB) — 1:54.91
  5. Maggie McGuire (AUB) — 1:54.95
  6. Millie Sansome (UGA) — 1:55.43
  7. Ellie Waldrep (AUB) — 1:55.51
  8. Zoe Dixon (FLOR) — 1:55.97

Bella Sims kicked off the last prelims session of the meet by cruising her way to the top seed in the women’s 200 back. Sims, who holds a lifetime best of 1:48.32, swam a 1:51.15 to lead the rest of the field by 2.58 seconds.

She leads a quartet of Gators into the ‘A’ final, with her fellow freshmen Catherine Choate and JoJo Ramey taking the 2nd and 3rd seeds. Choate swam a lifetime best to secure her spot in the ‘A’ final. She clocked 1:53.73, dropping more than a second from her previous mark of 1:54.90.

Auburn teammates Kensley Merritt and Maggie McGuire also swam personal bests here in prelims. Both broke 1:55 for the first time, which McGuire just bypassed entirely–her best was a 1:56.31 coming into the meet. The two Tigers are separated by just four-hundredths, with Merritt dropping three-tenths to secure 4th place with the freshman McGuire following closely behind in 5th.

MEN’S 200-YARD BACK – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 1:35.73 – Ryan Murphy, Cal (2016)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:39.13
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 1:40.62

Top 8:

  1. Jonny Marshall (FLOR) — 1:39.56
  2. Ruard van Renen (UGA) — 1:41.92
  3. Sam Powe (UGA) — 1:42.33
  4. Bradley Dunham (UGA) — 1:42.38
  5. Nate Stoffle (AUB) — 1:42.74
  6. Eitan Ben-Shitrit (MICH) — 1:43.13
  7. Jaka Pusnik (FSU) — 1:43.24
  8. Aidan Stoffle (AUB) — 1:43.37

Florida freshman Jonny Marshall followed up his breakthrough yesterday in the 100 backstroke with another huge swim, this time in the 200 back. Marshall dropped 2.43 seconds from his previous best (1:41.99) from December 2021 to earn the top time of the morning with a 1:39.56.

That time is well under the 2023 NCAA Invite Time, and would’ve missed out on the ‘A’ final by just two-hundredths. Marshall opened this race a lot faster than his 2021 Winter Juniors pace, turning at the 100-yard mark in 48.09 compared to 49.93. He’s the only one in the field who got under 1:40; the rest of the field played things a closer to the vest this morning. Ruard van Renen, who swam a PB to win yesterday’s 100 back, sits 2nd in a season-best 1:41.92.

van Renen leads a 2-3-4 effort for Georgia, with Sam Powe (1:42.33) and Bradley Dunham (1:42.38) sitting close together as the 3rd and 4th seeds.

The Stoffle brothers, Nate Stoffle and Aidan Stoffle, both secured their lanes for the ‘A’ final as well. N. Stoffle sits 5th with a 1:42.74, while his older brother hit his entry time exactly (1:43.37) for 8th.

WOMEN’S 100-YARD FREE – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 45.56 – Simone Manuel, Stanford (2017)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 47.18
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 48.37

Top 8:

  1. Stephanie Balduccini (MICH) — 47.70
  2. Claire Newman (MICH) — 48.39
  3. Lindsay Flynn (MICH) — 48.47
  4. Bri Roberson (UGA) — 48.48
  5. Izzy Ivey (FLOR) — 48.55
  6. Micayla Cronk (FLOR) — 48.60
  7. Polina Nevmovenko (AUB) — 48.61
  8. Christey Liang (MICH) — 48.91

200 freestyle winner Stephanie Balduccini led a huge charge for the Michigan women in this event. The Wolverines grabbed four spots in the ‘A’ final, including sweeping the top three spots. Balduccini dipped under 48 seconds for the top seed, clocking a personal best 47.70.

Her teammate Claire Newman took the 2nd seed heading into finals with a personal best of her own, bettering the 48.43 she swam at 2022 Big Tens. It’s her second sprint freestyle best time of the meet–she swam a best in the 50 free on day 1. Lindsay Flynn sits eight-hundredths behind Newman in 48.47, and Christey Liang rounds out the qualified Michigan swimmers with a 48.91 for 8th, which is just off her best.

4th place Bri Roberson swam a personal best as well, dropping more than a second from the 49.77 she swam at 2023 SECS. She’s sitting right in front of Gator duo Izzy Ivey and Micayla Cronk, both of whom we expect to be much faster in finals. The pair qualified safely in 48.55 and 48.60, but both can be much faster and have been on good form through the first two days of the meet.

MEN’S 100-YARD FREE – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 39.90 – Caeleb Dressel, Florida (2018)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 41.50
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 42.32

Top 8:

  1. Macguire McDuff (FLOR) — 41.85
  2. Reese Branzell (UGA) – -42.19
  3. Josh Liendo (FLOR) — 42.20
  4. Julian Smith (FLOR) — 42.24
  5. Peter Varjasi (FSU) — 42.39
  6. Adam Chaney (FLOR) — 42.75
  7. Bence Szabados (MICH) — 42.80
  8. Ed Fullum-Hout (FLOR) — 42.92

Macguire McDuff came .26 seconds from his personal best to lead a 100 free ‘A’ final that’s crowded with Gators. McDuff blazed out in heat 5, splitting 19.87/21.98 to touch in 41.85. That time held up over the final two heats as the fastest time of the morning, and the only one sub-42 seconds.

Josh Liendo, the defending NCAA champion and #2 performer in history, cruised to a 42.20 for a heat win of his own. Georgia’s Reese Branzell clipped that time in the last heat, swimming a personal best 42.19 to take over as the 2nd seed heading into finals. Branzell’s previous best was a 42.32 from leading off Georgia’s NCAA relay, so this is a .13 second drop for him which also puts him under the 2023 NCAA Invited Time.

Peter Varjasi was even closer to his PB than McDuff; his 42.39 is just seven-hundredths away from his mark.

Joining McDuff and Liendo in the finals for the Gators are Julian Smith (4th, 42.24), Adam Chaney (6th, 42.75), and Ed Fullum-Hout (8th, 42.92). Chaney hasn’t swum in an individual ‘A’ final yet this meet–he scratched out of the 50 free ‘A’ final, then was 9th in the 100 backstroke on day 2.

WOMEN’S 200-YARD BREAST – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 2:01.29 – Kate Douglass, Virginia (2023)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 2:05.73
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 2:09.68

Top 8:

  1. Molly Mayne (FLOR) — 2:07.72
  2. Zoie Hartman (UGA) — 2:08.79
  3. Maddy Huggins (FSU) — 2:09.21
  4. Grace Rainey (FLOR) — 2:10.73
  5. Sabyne Brisson (GT) — 2:10.75
  6. Brynn Curtis (AUB) — 2:11.80
  7. Julia Mansson (FSU) — 2:12.75
  8. Zoey Zeller (AUB) — 2:13.07

Freshman Molly Mayne continues to make big improvements in her breaststroke at this meet,. On day 2, she dropped from a 1:02 100 breatstroker to a 58.68, winning the event and setting a new program record. Now in the 200 breaststroke, she’s dropped from a personal best 2:16.08 to a 2:07.72, leading the way into the ‘A’ final.

Mayne, an international freshman, is clearly adjusting to yards quickly–that 2:16.08 came from Florida’s dual meet with Virginia. The 8.36 second drop puts her well under the 2023 NCAA Invited Time and would’ve landed her a spot in the ‘B’ final at 2023 NCAAs. Florida had one finalist in the event last year, fifth-year Nina Kucheran, so Mayne’s drops are very welcome for the Gators.

Aside from Mayne, the rest of the ‘A’ final qualifiers didn’t show much of what they’ve got left in the tank. Georgia’s Zoie Hartman moved easily into the final with a 2:08.79, followed by FSU’s breakout Maddy Huggins, who added two-tenths from the PB she swam earlier this season with a 2:09.21. Georgia Tech’s breakout Sabyne Brisson made the ‘A’ final as well, adding from her seed time with a 2:10.75.

MEN’S 200-YARD BREAST – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 1:46.91 – Leon Marchand, Arizona State (2023)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:51.09
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 1:52.94

Top 8:

  1. Peter Bretzmann (FLOR) — 1:54.77
  2. Aleksas Savickas (FLOR) — 1:54.79
  3. Jacques Rathle (AUB) — 1:56.20
  4. Tommaso Baravelli (FSU) — 1:56.61
  5. Joao Caballero (GT) — 1:56.67
  6. Alejandro Flores (AUB) — 1:57.21
  7. Liam Heary (AUB) — 1:57.26
  8. Raphael Rached Windmuller (FLOR) — 1:57.56

Heat 3 saw a close race between teammates Peter Bretzmann and Aleksas Savickas, who posted the top two times of the morning. The pair swam next to each other, with Savickas in lane 4 and Bretzmann in lane 5. Savickas, the defending SEC champion, was out first; he split 25.95/29.09 to Bretzmann’s 26.10/29.09.

.01 separated the two with 50-yards to go and they stayed locked together the entire way. At the wall, Bretzmann got the better of Savickas by .02, 1:54.77 to 1:54.79. Bretzmann’s time is a new personal best for him. It’s two-tenths faster than the 1:54.97 he swam in February at the Bulldog Qualifying Meet.

Bretzmann and Savickas have created quite a big gap on the rest of the ‘A’ finalists, with Auburn’s Jacques Rathle holding down the 3rd seed in 1:56.20, about 1.5 seconds behind the Florida pair. Rathle’s teammate Liam Heary made the ‘A’ final in 7th, five-hundredths behind another Tiger Alejandro Flores. For the freshman Heary, that’s a new personal best–his first in the event since March 2022. Heary broke 1:58 for the first time here in prelims, dropping .77 seconds with a 1:57.26.

WOMEN’S 200-YARD FLY – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 1:49.51 – Ella Eastin, Stanford (2018)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:52.86
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 1:55.92

Top 8:

  1. Bella Sims (FLOR) — 1:55.02
  2. Hannah Bellard (MICH)/ Meghan Lee (AUB) — 1:56.07
  3. (tie)
  4. Casey Cullen (AUB) — 1:56.98
  5. Amanda Ray (FLOR) — 1:57.51
  6. Sophie Freeman (FSU) — 1:57.93
  7. Edith Jerndtedt (FSU) — 1:58.21
  8. McKenzie Campbell (GT) — 1:58.36

In her second event of the morning, Sims posted the 200 fly’s top time of the morning with a 1:55.07. Sims is also the top seed in the 200 backstroke and throughout the meet, we’ve seen Florida swimmers do doubles in prelims then scratch out of one of their events in finals, so we’ll see if Sims follows suit.

She was the only under to get under the 2023 NCAA Invited Time this morning, and she’s sitting a second ahead of Hannah Bellard and Meghan Lee, who tied for 2nd in 1:56.07. Lee’s teammate Casey Cullen swam a personal best for 4th. She posted a 1:56.98, getting under the 1:57.17 she swam in February at the Bulldog Qualifying Meet.

The top 4 swimmers were the only ones under 1:57, as it took a 1:58.36 to make it back for the ‘A’ final later today.

MEN’S 200-YARD FLY – PRELIMS

  • NCAA Record: 1:37.35 – Jack Conger, Texas (2017)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 1:40.16
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 1:42.57

Top 8:

  1. Tyler Ray (MICH) — 1:43.53
  2. Colin Geer (MICH) — 1:43.56
  3. Gal Cohen Groumi (MICH) — 1:43.77
  4. Mason Laur (FLOR) — 1:43.93
  5. Danny Schmidt (AUB) — 1:44.54
  6. Evan McInerny (AUB) — 1:44.59
  7. Jake Magahey (UGA) — 1:44.83
  8. Rusty Jerger (AUB) — 1:44.90

The Michigan men took over in the men’s 200 fly, claiming the top three spots heading into finals. Tyler Ray swam another personal best time, earning the top seed in a 1:43.53. That’s a 2.47 second drop for Ray, whose previous best was a 1:46.27 from February’s Big Tens.

His freshman teammate Colin Geer swam a personal best of his own to qualify in 2nd. Geer posted a 1:43.56 to win his heat, getting under 1:44 for the first time like Ray. Geer’s previous best was the 1:44.71 he swam at 2022 Winter Juniors. Gal Cohen Groumi rounded out the top three for Michigan with a season best 1:43.77.

Mason Laur isn’t too far behind any of them; he joined the Wolverines under 1:44 with a 1:43.93, setting up for a great race tonight in the finals.

And for the moment, Jake Magahey seems to be sticking with the 200 fly, or at least trying it out again after swimming a PB at UGA’s tri-meet with NC State and Duke. He added about a second from his 1:43.83 at that meet but is safely through to the final in 7th.

Like Michigan, Auburn put three swimmers into the ‘A’ fina. Their top qualifier is Danny Schmidt (5th, 1:44.54), followed by 2023 NCAA ‘B’ finalist Evan McInerny (6th, 1:44.59), and Rusty Jerger (8th, 1:44.90). That time would be a PB for Jerger but he time-trialed the race on the first day of the meet and put up a 1:44.49, which is his new standard.

WOMEN’S 1650-YARD FREE – SLOWER HEATS

  • NCAA Record: 15:03.31 – Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 15:52.41
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 16:13.73

Current Top 8:

MEN’S 1650-YARD FREE – SLOWER HEATS

  • NCAA Record: 14:12.08 – Bobby Finke, Florida (2020)
  • 2024 NCAA ‘A’ Standard: 14:37.31
  • 2023 NCAA Invited Time: 14:53.84

Current Top 8:

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#MFan
3 months ago

M swimmers are showing improvement…! Refreshing! Go Blue!

Joel Lin
3 months ago

2 main takeaways:

  1. Always a risk to change training environments into an Olympic year, but it has worked brilliantly for Bella Sims.
  2. Emma Weyant has her groove back.
owen
Reply to  Joel Lin
3 months ago

she added 4 seconds in her 500, 5 in her 400 IM, and went a 1:43 200 free. i’m not worried for her or anything since it’s a midseason meet, but is that enough to say it’s working out “brilliantly”?

Joel Lin
Reply to  owen
3 months ago

Well established that Florida doesn’t rest much, if at all, for mid season invite meets. Especially in an Olympic training year.

Former Big10
3 months ago

Reese has had an awesome last 8 months

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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