Brittany MacLean won three events, including the 1000 free and 200 free back-to-back, as the Georgia women won their 100th consecutive home meet with a rout of Wisconsin. The Georgia men also topped Wisconsin by a similar margin.
The Bulldog women haven’t lost at home since 1995, an astounding run that continued with a 172-123 victory over the visiting Badgers. Georgia dropped just two events on the day.
Senior Brittany MacLean came through in the clutch, powering the ‘Dawgs out to a big lead with wins in the first two individual events. Her 9:37.31 keyed a 1-2 sweep in the 1000 free, with Hali Flickinger (9:41.87) also getting in before Wisconsin’s top distance swimmer, Danielle Valley (9:54.62).
MacLean would hop right back into the pool for a 1:48.15 win in the 200 free, leading a 1-2-3 sweep for the tough Georgia Bulldogs. Completing the triple, MacLean would take the 500 free in 4:47.37, with Stephanie Peters once again getting in ahead of Valley for second.
MacLean had a rough 2015 postseason, dealing with injuries, but appears to be back on track for a big senior year for Georgia, which looks to get back on top of the NCAA after winning national titles in 2013 and 2014.
Fellow senior Flickinger very nearly had a triple of her own. The Bulldogs’ Swiss Army Knife was second to MacLean in the 1000, and won the 100 fly (53.82) and 200 back (1:56.18) for the home team. And in the meet’s final event, her 49.1 anchor leg on the 400 free relay ran down the Badgers for a touchout win.
Senior Annie Zhu swept the breaststrokes for Georgia (1:02.96 in the 100, 2:13.26 in the 200) and took second in the 200 IM behind Emily Cameron (2:00.29), and Georgia also got some key swims from sophomore Kylie Stewart, who won the 100 back (53.89) and put up a fast fly split of 23.9 on the winning 200 medley relay.
The only events Wisconsin managed to pip were the sprint freestyles, where Chase Kinney has been having an outstanding junior year. With perennial All-American Ivy Martin graduated, Kinney has taken over as the core of the Badgers sprinting attack, and crushed the 50 free (22.46) and 100 free (49.23) fields by wide margins in Athens. She also put up a blazing 21.9 split on the end of Wisconsin’s 200 medley relay.
The Georgia men won by almost an identical margin, taking the meet 172-122 despite a near Wisconsin sweep of the freestyle races.
That’s been the Badgers’ M.O. this year – dominating the freestyle events and closing things down in the final free relay. But Georgia, despite a dearth of pure sprinters, was actually able to win the 400 free relay, and their dominance of the non-free races was plenty enough to put away a visiting Wisconsin program.
Probably the biggest development for Georgia was some great swimming from senior Michael Trice, really the team’s only traditional sprint freestyler. With Wisconsin sweeping the 1000 and 200 frees early, Trice put a stop to the freestyle reign, going 20.00 to top the 50 free by two tenths of a second. That’s a bit off the 19.7 he went against Tennessee last week, but besides that, was the fastest he’s been all year in dual meets.
The Bulldogs patched together their 400 free relay with mid-distance swimmer Matias Koski, backstroker/flyer Taylor Dale and IMer/breaststroker Gunnar Bentz, but Trice came up with a big 43.8 anchor leg as Georgia went an impressive 2:56.16 to put the meet on ice. Koski was also 43.8 on the leadoff leg.
It was Ty Stewart who led the team in individual wins, taking three events that included a late 100 fly/200 IM double. Stewart first took the 200 fly in 1:45.60 early on, topping Bentz in a Georgia 1-2-3. As the meet wound down, Stewart added the 100 fly win in 47.93, and finally took the 200 IM in 1:46.98.
Dale swept the backstrokes on the day, going 47.55 to blow away the 100 back field and 1:45.24 to win the 200 in a touchout over Wisconsin’s Austin Byrd.
Despite losing that 400 free relay, Wisconsin still held up its run of tough swimming in the individual freestyle races, winning everything but the 50. New Zealander Matt Hutchins took care of the distance events, going 9:01.53 for a big 1000 win and 4:21.91 in the 500. Hutchins wasn’t remotely challenged by anyone else in the pool in either race.
Other Wisconsin winners included Brett Pinfold, who touched out Koski 1:36.22 to 1:36.24 for the 200 free title, and Cannon Clifton, who beat Koski and Trice for the 100 free in 44.00.