According to a spokesperson for the Georgia Swimming & Diving team, Sates is in the process of being medically cleared and will make his debut against Division III powerhouse Emory at his new home pool in Athens.
He’ll then jump straight into the SEC Championship meet, which begins on February 15 at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. This also means he is not expected to swim on Saturday against Tennessee in the team’s last SEC dual meet of the year.
Georgia can use the help that Sates will bring. Based on current season-best times, the Bulldogs are projected to finish just 7th at the SEC Championships (see Swimulator projections here). The caveat is that they were without two of their best swimmers, Luca Urlando and Jake Magahey, at their mid-season invite as the pair dealt with a “non-COVID-related illness.”
Even they, however, would probably not be enough to help Georgia make up the gap on the 9-time SEC Champions from Florida.
With Sates on board, however, and the return of healthy Magahey and Urlando, the Bulldogs are in much better shape. Conservatively, even weighing the circumstance, Sates is worth 75 individual points at the SEC Championships. The return of him, Magahey, and Urlando also gives Georgia a huge relay boost – the kind of swing not often seen at a conference meet. For example, their best 800 free relay this season ranks just 8th in the SEC, but with that trio returned, they are arguably the favorites to win the event over Florida.
Sates is the current World Junior Record holder in both the 200 and 400 short course meter freestyles, as well as the 200 IM, pending FINA ratification.
Sates’ potential depends on how quickly he can adapt to yards racing: when he does, he’s an instant NCAA title contender.