There is something in the water this year at the college level. Swimmers are having an unprecedented level of early-season success, and swimming times across-the-board that are better than we’ve seen in any year aside from the rubber-suit era (and maybe even better than that).
Great times have been going down in Austin at the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational, but tonight kicks off the Georgia Invitational, and the Georgia women are out to an unbelievable start at their home invite.
Freshman Amber McDermott busted out a 4:34.55 in the meet’s first individual event, the women’s 500 free, which is easily the best time in the country. That moves her to 4th on the all-time NCAA list and is the fastest time ever done by an NCAA freshman (that’s the 2nd freshman-record we’ve seen broken across the country this year, after Kevin Cordes’ 100 breaststroke in Austin).
Her veteran teammate Wendy Trott also made an NCAA automatic qualifying time with a 4:36.32. That puts the bulldogs as 1st and 3rd in the country this season. In fact, it took under a 4:40 just to make the top 5 in this race – there were only 6 swimmers better than that mark all of the fall semester last year.
Georgia sophomore Melanie Margalis followed her up with an automatic qualifying time of 1:55.47 in the women’s 200 IM, which is the #2 time in the country and just .05 away from her career-best time. Her teammate Jana Mangimelli was 2nd in 1:56.78, which is just ahead of Allysa Vavra of Indiana in 1:56.80, which is faster than she was all of last season.
In a battle of the last two NCAA Champions in the event, Cal’s Liv Jensen swam a 21.84 to win the women’s 50 free ahead of Anna Vanderpool-Wallace of Auburn in 22.06. Megan Romano touched 3rd in 22.42 and Georgia freshman Lauren Harrington took 4th in 22.56.
Vanderpool-Wallace would come back and anchor Auburn’s 400 medley relay in a 47.07 to a win in 3:32.69. That’s the third-best time in the country and barely missed an NCAA automatic qualifying mark. Romano would also have a swift 100 free (she’s better in the 100 and 200 than the 50) of 47.17 to help Georgia touch 2nd in 3:33.19.
The men’s meet wasn’t quite as blistering, but there were still some fantastic times. Auburn junior Kyle Owens won the men’s 200 IM in 1:45.04, ahead of Indiana sophomore Cody Miller in 1:46.59. Miller is the defending Big Ten Champion in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, but this swim is already only three-tenths off of his career-best. He could be a dynamite performer as the Hoosiers look to make up the points lost from Eric Ress sitting out the college season.