Georgia senior Melanie Margalis seems like she’s on a collision course with greatness at this year’s NCAA Championships, and her best session of the season so far came on Saturday morning at the Auburn Invitational.
There, Margalis took the top seed in two events in impressive times. First ,she was a 4:06.24 in the 400 yard IM for the top seed by four seconds ahead of teammate Amber McDermott (4:10.85).
She followed that at the end of the session with a 59.30 for the top seed in the 100 breaststroke, well ahead of Florida State sophomore Sami Pochowski (1:01.62) and Georgia sophomore Annie Zhu (1:01.63).
The times aren’t a huge surprise: Margalis is always very good mid-season. The difference this year, though, seems to be partially in her confidence. Both times are far, far better than she was at the Bulldogs’ hosted mid-season invite in prelims, which will provide a better warm-up experience for NCAA’s, where coasting through prelims isn’t an option for most swimmers.
That 100 breaststroke time is actually a lifetime flat-start best for her, though recognize that she usually doesn’t swim that event at her year-end taper (her previous best was a 59.34 at her mid-season invite in the 2012-2013 season).
Other standout results from the prelims session included the men’s 100 fly, which should see a very tight pack at the top of the race. Florida State’s Pavel Sankovich took the top seed in 47.26, and close behind was his teammate Connor Knight (47.33) and Georgia senior Doug Reynolds (47.36).
There were also two pros in the top 5 who should turn things on in finals a bit: Albert Subirats is the 4th seed in 47.88 and Adam Brown is the 5th seed in 48.00.
In terms of Auburn undergrads, Arthur Mendes was a 48.51 to just sneak into the A-Final. If the Tiger’s medleys want to do as well this season as they did last, he’ll need to show better than that in finals.
Sankovich would later add the top seed in the 100 back with a 47.18; Georgia’s Taylor Dale wasn’t far back in 47.56.
Back on the women’s side, Olivia Smoliga looked very strong again with a 51.95 in the women’s 100 backstroke for the top seed by over a second. At this time yesterday, that would have looked like a world-beater, but after Virginia’s Courtney Bartholomew was under 51 seconds on Friday night, 100 backstrokes have a very difference perspective (though that was still an outstanding time for a prelims swim and as a freshman).
Other top seeds include Shannon Vreeland going 1:44.48 for the top seed in the women’s 200 free. The Bulldogs had the top four seeds in that race, all 1:46.4 or better, showing that even with the graduations of Megan Romano and Allison Schmitt, Georgia still has the best 200 freestyle group in the country.