World University Games champion swimmer Dakota Luther entered her name in the NCAA Transfer Portal on Wednesday and says that she is headed back home to Austin and the University of Texas.
Luther used her first four seasons of collegiate eligibility at the University of Georgia. The Austin native says that she is looking into graduate options at the University of Texas, where she plans to joint he varsity swim team and use her 5th year of COVID-19-waiver eligibility.
“(Georgia) has gifted me with so many opportunities to excel in the classroom, in the pool, and out in the real world,” Luther told SwimSwam. “I can’t thank (coaches) Stef (Moreno), Jack (Bauerle), Jerry (Champer), Brian (Smith), and Neil (Versfeld) enough for working with me these past 4 seasons. They have helped me grow into the person I am today. I’ll always be cheering for the dogs.”
Luther was the #13-ranked recruit coming out of high school, and she scored 46 individual NCAA Championship points for Georgia at three meets. She was seeded to score 16 at the 2020 championships, which were canceled by the COVID-19 outbreak. Her highest individual output came during her senior championships in March, scoring 21 points that included a 4th-place finish in the 200 fly. She was 5th in that same event, her best, at the 2021 NCAA Championships.
She won back-to-back SEC titles in the 200 fly in 2020 and 2021 before Kentucky’s Riley Gaines beat her by .14 seconds as a senior in 2022.
At the most recent NCAA Championship meet, Luther was also 11th in the 100 fly (51.01 – personal best) and 24th in the 200 IM (1:56.67 – personal best).
|HS Best||Best at Georgia|
Internationally, Luther represented the United States at the 2019 World University Games. There, she won the 200 fly (2:07.92) and took silver in the 100 fly (58.82); she also swam the butterfly leg on the gold medal winning 400 medley relay.
Her long course best of 2:07.76 in the 200 fly from 2019 makes her the 5th-best American in that event since 2018. She was 6th in that event at the 2021 US Olympic Trials.
Luther now returns to the city where at Westlake High School, she was a three-time individual state champion.
The Texas Longhorns, who finished 2nd at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, have one of the top butterfly groups in the NCAA. At this year’s national championship meet, sophomore Oliva Bray was 7th in the 100 fly and 8th in the 200 fly; junior Kelly Pash was 3rd in the 200 fly; and sophomore Emma Sticklen was 4th in the 100 fly and 7th in the 200 fly and The Longhorns’ 27 points in the 100 fly and 37 points in the 200 fly were each the most by any team in those events.
Half of the NCAA A-Finalists from last year’s NCAA Championship meet will be at Texas next season.
There are lots of ties for Luther to the University of Texas. Current head coach Carol Capitani was a former assistant at Georgia, though she left well before Luther arrived on campus. Luther’s mom Whitney Hedgepeth who won 3 NCAA titles and the maximum 21 All-America awards in three seasons at Texas.
Hedgepeth went on to win a gold and two silver medals at the 1996 Olympic Games as a backstroker.