Clearing up any lingering doubt as to what her swimming plans would be after winning 5 Olympic medals, three of which are gold, Allison Schmitt is officially back in class at Georgia and preparing for the next NCAA season. This is after sitting out last year to train with Michael Phelps and Bob Bowman in North Baltimore for the Olympics.
From those we’ve talked to in the Georgia program, this was always the plan for the 200 freestyle Olympic champion, but three Olympic gold medals always add a new wrinkle into the equation. Now a reality, the Bulldogs will have the three fastest 200 freestylers in the country next season. That includes defending NCAA Champion and U.S. Open Record holder Megan Romano, the aforementioned American Record holder in long course Schmitt, and Shannon Vreeland, who was 5th at NCAA’s last year and joined Schmitt on the USA’s 800 free relay in London.
There’s probably only three people who could break up a 1-2-3 finish for Georgia in this relay. One is Lauren Perdue, another member of that American relay at Virginia; she missed NCAA’s last season with a back injury but is clearly back to full strength. Another is Tennessee’s Lindsay Gendron, a rising junior who is fantastic in yards. And the third is head coach Jack Bauerle, if he decides to spread the talent around, though that’s probably unlikely.
Think about how stacked that relay will be next season. They’ll likely have the first swimmer, if not the first two swimmers, in history to go a 1:40 individually; a third in Vreeland who should be right on a 1:41 or 1:42; and a slew of swimmers who were 1:44’s who will fight for the last spot. Even if Georgia had a horrendous NCAA Championship meet, they’d still break that record. They may even break it at a dual meet.
This incredible stable of freestylers, from the 50 to the 1500, makes Georgia the only real contender to knock of defending champions Cal this season.