The 2013 Auburn Invitational launched on Friday morning at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center, and Georgia freshman Olivia Smoliga lived up to her hype early.
In prelims of the women’s 50 free, she was a 22.24 for the top seed and her best time as a collegian. She could be even better in finals, but she won’t be swimming alone: lurking behind her is Florida State’s Tiffany Oliver, the defending ACC Champion, after a 22.44, and the defending SEC Champion Chantal van Landeghem, who was a 22.47 for the 3rd seed. Auburn’s Emily Bos isn’t far behind either in 22.57, and the 5th seed belongs to Florida State’s Kaitlyn Dressel in 22.72.
The men’s 50 free was good, though not quite as good as the women’s. Four swimmers were under 20 seconds, led by Florida State senior Paul Murray, who took the top seed in 19.64. Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini, the odds-on favorite to win this year’s NCAA title, was close behind in 19.75, followed by Auburn post-grad Adam Brown (19.94) and James Disney-May (19.99).
Georgia’s Chase Kalisz took the top seed in the 200 IM in 1:44.63, which is his best time of the season so far. He was dead-even with teammate Ty Stewart at the halfway mark. That’s significant, given that Stewart is a phenomenal butterflier and backstroker, and until this year, Kalisz was neither.
Georgia finished 1-2 in the women’s 200 IM as well, and in fact were 1-4. Melanie Margalis was the top seed in 1:58.40. She dominated sophomore teammate Hali Flickinger (1:58.95) to make the difference in the race, though Flickinger’s impressive closing freestyle split will be enough to make Margalis nervous in finals.
Will Freeman won the men’s 500 free in 4:21.18, followed by Garrett Powell in 4:23.23 and Andrew Gemmell in 4:24.17. Expect the Georgia men to turn things on a bit in finals and for someone to dip under 4:20.
The women’s 500 free prelims, Amber McDermott was the top seed in 4:40.64, followed by Shannon Vreeland in 4:40.79 and Brittany MacLean in 4:41.26.
Relays weren’t swum in prelims, but the women’s 200 free relay battle between Georgia and Florida State tonight could be one of the highlights of the meet. After Smoliga’s prelims swim, it seems that the Bulldogs will have the advantage, but don’t underestimate how good Dressel has been on relays.