College Swimming Video courtesy of PackSwimandDive
A behind the scenes look into the week of the University of Georgia Meet!
Meet Coverage – as reported by SwimSwam’s Jared Anderson
NC State was a very good team last year and is coming off a true breakout season, so it’s not exactly a “David & Goliath” upset. But Georgia was 5th in the NCAA last year, has one of the nation’s top overall swimmers in Chase Kalisz and brought in a number of blue-chip prospects last recruiting season. NC State, meanwhile, was 13th at the NCAA Championships and brought in the #9 recruiting class, compared to Georgia’s #7.
That makes it more than a bit surprising that the Wolfpack topped Georgia this weekend. It was a meet that could have easily gone either way, as nearly every single event ended in a photo finish. NC State picked up the majority of the touchouts, though, which led to their narrow victory.
The opening even was decided by just over four tenths of a second, with NC State putting up the nation’s 3rd-fastest 200 medley relay time to win 1:28.05. Things were very tight over the first 100 yards, but butterflyer Soeren Dahl and freestyler David Williams locked down the back half for NC State, as Georgia came in at 1:28.50. NC State’s time smashed the pool record, the first of several records to go down on the day.
Then in the 1000 free, NC State freshman Anton Ipsen crushed the field, breaking a school record and winning a battle of first-years. Ipsen’s 9:01.83 jumped to 1st in the NCAA this year, and easily topped Georgia freshman Kevin Litherland, who had the nation’s second-fastest time coming into the meet.
Then the touchouts started piling up for NC State. Simonas Bilis nipped Mathias Koski for the 200 free title in 1:37.02, his first of three wins on the day. Koski was 1:37.56. Then Andreas Schiellerup picked up a 100 back win by a few tenths over Tynan Stewart, 48.60 to 48.98.
Georgia’s Nic Fink, a U.S. National Teamer, got the Dawgs on the board with a fast 53.99 win in the 100 breast, the nation’s fastest time. But NC State sophomore Derek Hren wasn’t far behind, going 54.50 for second, and beating Georgia’s star freshman Gunnar Bentz by over a second and a half.
Then, in perhaps the most important swim of the meet, NC State’s Christian McCurdy upset Georgia’s NCAA champ and international star Chase Kalisz for the 200 fly win with a new pool record. McCurdy went out fast and built a lead that was just a tiny bit too big for Kalisz to overcome. McCurdy was 1:44.77, while Kalisz went 1:44.83.
NC State gouged Georgia in the sprints, taking advantage of the Bulldogs’ biggest weakness to go 1-2 in both the 50 and 100 frees. It was Simonas Bilis and Ryan Held who did the honors in both. Bilis went 19.96 and 43.74 for his second and third wins, while the freshman Held was 20.59 and 44.86.
Wolfpack freshman Hennessy Stuart won another tight race in the 200 back, going 1:46.26 to beat Tynan Stewart by about three tenths and denying Georgia a chance to catch back up. But the 200 breast was a giant boost for the Bulldogs, as Nic Fink (1:59.12), Chase Kalisz and Gunnar Bentz went 1-2-3 over NC State’s Derek Hren.
But the freshman Ipsen came back to deal another punishing blow to Georgia. Ipsen went 4:22.03 to blow away the 500 free field and take the top spot in the nation in that event as well.
But momentum shifted back just as quickly. Georgia finally came out on the winning side of a close race in the 100 fly when Pace Clark‘s 48.00 beat Christian McCurdy. Then after a short break, Kalisz and Bentz went 1-2 over the top of McCurdy in the 200 IM, sweeping the top two spots in the NCAA rankings in the process. Kalisz was 1:46.71 and Bentz 1:47.35. McCurdy was 1:47.79, which now sits 4th in the nation.
NC State clung to a thin, 3-point lead heading into the last relay, with a win giving either team the meet. But Georgia’s lack of pure sprint freestylers came back to bite it, unfortunately coinciding with NC State’s strong sprinting corps and general relay prowess. The Wolfpack won in 2:56.12, yet another nation-leading time, getting a 43.2 split from Bilis on the anchor leg and smashing a pool record. Georgia, using breastsroker Nic Fink and distance man Mathias Koski on its top relay, went 2:57.52 for second place. Impressively, that’s also the second-fastest time in the nation so far this year.
Georgia took both diving events with Ian Forlini, but it wasn’t enough as the meet went to a high-flying NC State squad, 155-143.