Auburn Men 156, Georgia Men 87
The Auburn men swam very well at home in their grudge match against the Georgia Bulldogs. This is not to say that Georgia swam poorly, but the difference in depth between the two programs (at least until next year’s monster Georgia class arrives) was pretty obvious in this dual.
The Tigers kicked things off with a 1-2 finish in the 200 medley that included a 1:28.99 from the quartet of Kyle Owens, Stuart Ferguson, Nimrod Hayet, and Karl Krug. The question for the Auburn medley has been what they would do on the butterfly leg with fill-in Adam Brown graduated. The sophomore Hayet seems to be the first attempt at a solution, and he was fairly impressive with a 22.05. Whether or not that’s good enough to compete with Arizona’s aweseome relay, however, remains to be seen.
The men’s 1000 free featured a great battle between a trio of underclassmen distance-freestylers. Georgia’s Martin Grodzki (9:07.69), who was last year’s runner-up in the NCAA equivalent race of 1650 yards, had a great closing 50 of 25.68 to snatch victory away from his sophomore teammate Will Freeman (9:08.38) who led most of the back-half in this race.
Auburn sophomore Zane Grothe also had a great swim for 3rd in 9:10.63. He closed the race very well, but left himself too much ground to make up with a 4-second decific at the 800-yard mark.
Grothe was the top freshman in the distance freestyles at NCAA’s last year, but Freeman is going to give him a serious run for the sophomore honor this year. His 9:08 wasn’t even his best time this season – he was 4 seconds faster against North Carolina 3 weeks ago. Still, Georgia now has three of the top 4 times in the country this year (Andrew Gemmell didn’t swim at this meet), and are absolutely loaded in that distance training group.
Georgia followed that victory up with another win from Jameson Hill in the 200 free in 1:37.54 ahead of Auburn’s Drew Modrov in 1:37.90. That’s a solid time for Hill, about 3-seconds faster than he was going this time as a freshman, but next month’s Georgia Invitational will be the race to watch for him. Last year, he made big waves when he put up a December 1:35.9 in this 200 free, and was ultimately unable to replicate that speed at NCAA’s. If he can go something in the 1:36-range this year, that will project much better for his year-end performances.
In the 50 free, which is an Auburn strength and a big Georgia weakness, the Tigers swept 1-4, headed by a 20.08 from senior Karl Krug. Brazilian sophomore Marcelo Chierighini, who is competing in his first full NCAA season, didn’t look great with a time of 20.44 for 3rd. The Bulldogs’ highest finisher was Michael Arnold in 20.58. for 5th.
Auburn junior Kyle Owens cleared the nation’s best time with a 1:48.29 to win the 200 IM. Georgia freshman Nic Fink, best known as a breaststroker, posted a very good 1:50.41 for runner-up positioning. That’s within half-a-second of his lifetime-best. Fink would go on to win the 200 breaststroke in 2:00.51, ahead of Auburn junior Stuart Ferguson (2:00.98), later in the meet.
In the 100 free, Auburn’s newest British freestyler, James Disney-May, took a win in a top-5 mark of 44.13. The Tigers again swept the top-4 spots, with Chierighini bouncing back for a solid runner-up time of 44.48.
Auburn really let-loose on the 400 free relay with a mark of 2:57.53, highlighted by a Disney-may 3rd leg of 44.06. That again ranks 2nd in the country behind Arizona, but looks very menacing with allfour swimmers posting 44’s.
Georgia Women 133, Auburn Women 110
The Georgia women flipped the tables on Auburn, and took a comfortable 23-point victory.
The Tigers started off the meet well. They are known for their swift 200 medley relays, whereas Georgia is not in recent years, and that held true here as the Tigers won in 1:40.19 to Georgia’s 1:43.37. That’s the 2nd-best time in the country this year for Auburn, behind only Texas’ swim from a week ago.
The exciting split here was that of sophomore Emily Bos on the backstroke leg of 25.13. When parsing through the top 200 medleys this season, that time is better than any I can find (including that of defending NCAA 100 back champ Cindy Tran at Cal, who split a 25.55). With Bos on the lead-off and Vanderpool-Wallace anchoring, the Tigers have the best set of bookedns in the country in the early going, which will provide a significant lift to their young middle of Abby Duncan and Olivia Scott.
Much like the men’s race, the Georgia distance group was on display in the 1000 free. Three-time defending NCAA mile champion Wendy Trott took the victory in 9:38.88. That stands as the best time in the country in 2011. She was followed by freshman Amber McDermott, who showed-off why she was the #1 recruit in the country last year, who took 2nd in 9:41.93 – ranking her 3rd in the country. McDermott has one year to develop before she will be asked (if we project Trott to win the mile this year) to take over the mantle and continue the Bulldogs’ streak of national titles in the mile.
Georgia’s Megan Romano made her season-debut in the 200 free at this meet, and after a great summer it’s no surprise that she put up a 5th-ranked 1:47.05 to take the win. With 3 of the top 8 times in the country already this year, it looks like Georgia could defend their title in the 800 free relay even without Allison Schmitt. Next season, when she returns, they might have a shot at chasing down Cal’s NCAA (and U.S. Open) Record.
In the sprint freestyles, Anna Vanderpool-Wallace dominated to the tune of a 22.31 in the 50 and a 48.32 in the 100, with nobody else even in the same stratosphere. That 100 time was her best time of the year, and the best in the country so far. In the 50, she’s been a tenth or so quicker, but has now been a 22.3-or-quicker at three different meets this year, with the top-3 times in the country to boot. It might seem absurd for a woman to be that fast this early in the season, but consider that some have speculated that AVW might become the first woman ever under the 21-second barrier this year. You’re not going to get under 21 seconds if you’re going 22.6’s in November (which was how fast she was going at the first few meets of 2010).
She would anchor the Auburn 400 free relay home to a victory in 3:18.45, easily the best time in the country this year.
The Auburn women may have put up some impressive marks, but overall this meet was won by Georgia’s versatility.
Among other races, the 200 fly left a big impression, with the top-4 spots all belonging to freshmen (three of whom swim for Georgia). Lauren Harrington came out on top in 2:02.41. A big closing kick from her pulled her past classmate Courtney Peters in 2:02.61 (is it obvious where Georgia put most of their recruiting efforts last year, after they didn’t enter a single butterflier at NCAA’s?).
This meet had some headline-grabbing times, but from top-to-bottom wasn’t as fast as those headlines might imply.