Courtesy: UGA Athletics
ATHENS, Ga. – A new season of University of Georgia swimming and diving opens in the Valley of the Sun with a pair of dual meets against Arizona State this weekend at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe.
Georgia and Arizona State will face off in a long-course meters meet on Friday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. EST, followed by a short-course yards meet on Saturday at noon. Both meets will be streamed live on Pac-12 Network+, with live results available to paid subscribers on the MeetMobile app.
This is the second-consecutive season opener between the Bulldogs and Sun Devils, following a pair of meets last season in Athens. Georgia swept Arizona State in a modified dual meet on Sept. 30, followed by a split on Oct. 1 in a tri-meet with Missouri. Arizona State’s men’s team finished second at last year’s NCAA Championships, led by World Champion Leon Marchand, who won three NCAA titles with U.S. Open record in each event.
This weekend’s meets mark the second seasons for Tom Cousins Women’s Swimming & Diving Head Coach Stefanie Williams Moreno and Men’s Swimming & Diving Head Coach Neil Versfeld. Both head coaches opened their Georgia tenures with successful first campaigns, each finishing in the top six at SECs and top 16 at NCAAs. Williams Moreno and Versfeld also added to their coaching staffs with longtime assistant coach Jerry Champer returning to the women’s staff, while Bulldog legend Michael Norment joined as men’s associate head coach and volunteer coach Nate Rhoads became a men’s assistant.
The Georgia women finished 16th at the NCAA Championships, earning 21 All-America citations in the process, following a sixth-place finish at SECs. Sophomore Rachel Stege had a breakout season, finishing top-eight in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle after winning the SEC title in the 500. Stege later posted three top-16 finishes at the Phillips 66 National Championships, earning a place on the United States team at next month’s Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Fellow sophomore Duné Coetzee established herself as a top-flight distance swimmer, earning a First Team All-America notice in the 500 freestyle. In the summer, she won the silver medal in the 800-meter freestyle at the World University Games.
The Bulldogs return a veteran roster, including six fifth- and fourth-year seniors, including seven-time SEC Champion Zoie Hartman and All-Americans Jillian Barczyk and Sloane Reinstein. Junior Eboni McCarty broke onto the program’s all-time top-10 in multiple events, while fellow junior Abby McCulloh remained a strong performer in the distance events. Newcomers include Kenyon transfer Olivia Smith, the 2023 NCAA Division III champion in the 100 backstroke, and seven-time Georgia state champion Elizabeth Tilt. At the diving well, two-time NCAA qualifier Meghan Wenzel leads a strong group that includes SEC scorer Hannah Stumpf and Georgia state finalist Michelle Cummo.
On the men’s side, Versfeld led the Bulldogs to a 12th-place finish at nationals, moving up three spots on the final day of competition, following a fifth-place mark at SECs. Fifth-year senior Ian Grum, also a U.S. Pan-American Games team member, earned First Team All-America citations in the 400 IM and 200 backstroke, twice setting a new school record in the 200 back. The backstroke group looks to be one of the strongest in the nation, featuring SEC 200 backstroke champion Bradley Dunham, NCAA qualifier Mitchell Norton, and transfers Miles Simon (Howard) and Ruard van Renen (Southern Illinois). Simon earned Northeast Conference Most Outstanding Swimmer honors, while van Renen won the 100 backstroke consolation title at NCAAs.
Senior Jake Magahey leads the distance group after earning two First Team All-America honors last season, while graduate Dillon Downing and junior Reese Branzell bolster the sprint group. The team’s veterans also include fifth-year seniors Zach Hils and Zach Franklin and senior Wesley Ng and Connor Haigh, with freshmen Tristan DenBrok and Tomas Koski bolstering the roster. DenBrok is a four-time Georgia state champion, while Koski is the younger brother of former Georgia NCAA champion and Finnish Olympian Matias Koski. At the diving, the junior trio of Rhett Hopkins, Nolan Lewis, and Allen Mann each qualified for NCAA Zones last season and look to continue their upward trajectory.
Following this weekend’s meets, Georgia will return to Athens before opening its home season against Georgia Tech on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. at Gabrielsen Natatorium.
FRIDAY SCHEDULE – 5 p.m. EST
400m Medley Relay
200m Freestyle Relay
200m Medley Relay
400m Freestyle Relay
SATURDAY SCHEDULE – 12 p.m. EST
200y Medley Relay
400y Freestyle Relay