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Georgia handles North Carolina to win first home meet of the season

by ZwemZa on October 7th, 2017
Georgia junior Jay Litherland particpates in the men's 200 yard breastroke event during Georgia's meet against Emory University at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Athens, Ga. (Photo/Thomas Mills)

Georgia junior Jay Litherland particpates in the men’s 200 yard breastroke event during Georgia’s meet against Emory University at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Athens, Ga. (Photo/Thomas Mills)

The Georgia swimming and diving team made a strong statement in its first home match of the season on Friday against North Carolina.

The Bulldogs were dominant across the board with both the men and women’s teams having a strong showing in the pool at Gabrielsen Natatorium.

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Georgia vs UNC swim meet 2017
Georgia swimmer Veronica Burchill competes during the UGA Fall Invitational at Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, (Photo by John Paul Van Wert/UGA Sports Comm)  Graphic by Courtney Reese

Javier Acevedo, Jay Litherland and James Guest lead the way for the men’s swim group while freshman Courtney Harnish and seniors Meaghan Raab and Kylie Stewart had strong days for the women to secure dominant wins over the Tar Heels by scores of 172–109 for the women and 172–92 for the men.

“This day was a good day,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “They just raced well. That’s all you ask. It doesn’t matter if it is the first one of the season or NCAA’s, you just want them racing as hard as they can. And I thought they did.”

The men got off to a strong start in the 200-yard medley relay as Acevedo, Litherland and Guest teamed with freshman Camden Murphy to win the event with a time of 1:29.28.

Three of those men would go on to win the next event that they competed in as Acevedo ran away with the 100 backstroke. He would later win the 100 freestyle as well.

Litherland led a sweep of the 200 freestyle with Walker Higgins and Kevin Litherland coming in at second and third. Guest then won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.07 as the men did not miss a beat with the injury of star senior Gunnar Bentz.

“Jack comes up in the locker room and always tells us to get off to a good start,” Acevedo said. “So when we had to swim that [200 medley] relay, it is something that I go in swimming backstroke thinking that I need to get a big lead.”

The women did not get off to as strong a start in in the 200 medley relay, as North Carolina won that event but the Bulldog women responded by sweeping the next two events and lost just three more swimming events for the rest of the meet.

Stephanie Peters won the 1000 freestyle with a time of 9:53.25. Olivia Anderson and Meg Finnon followed Peters in second and third for a Bulldog sweep in that event.

Harnish, Meaghan Raab and Jordan Stout then swept the 200 freestyle, with Harnish winning her first individual collegiate event. The freshman also won the 500 freestyle and was a key component of the win in the 400 freestyle relay.

“I think I surprised myself with a couple of my swims and I am really happy with them,” Harnish said. “I was definitely a little bit nervous before my 200 free but as I kept swimming, it was better.”

The Bulldogs did well in long-distance events overall on Friday.

Greg Reed won the 1000 freestyle and Higgins won the 500 freestyle for the men in addition to sweeps by the women in those two events.

The Bulldogs would then finish the day strongly with wins in the 400 individual medley by Raab and Jay Litherland before taking each of the 400 freestyle relays, which Raab also anchored for the women, to put the cherry on top of a strong win.

“Meaghan was just a warrior today,” Bauerle said. “She came back and knocked that relay out and swam the 400 IM. That is hard. That is the hardest double that we had in the meet. Hats off to her.”

The Georgia diving team had top-three finishes in all of its events. Charlie Clifton finished second place with 371.25 for the 1-meter. On the men’s 3-meter, Clifton ended with 329.63 at third place for Georgia.

“Today was good and bad,” Clifton said. “I think we are in a great spot right now, but we have a long ways to go.”

The women’s diving team placed second and third in 3-meter. Madison Duvall was the second place win for the Georgia with 312.23 followed by Mckensi Austin with 308.78.

Madison Duvall finished second for the Bulldogs with 275.48 on 1-meter. Georgia’s new transfer from Clemson, Freida Lim, landed third on 1-meter with 273.45 at her first meet with the Bulldogs.

The win comes in Georgia’s first full dual meet of the season, as last week’s win over Emory was relays only, and the Bulldogs are pleased to get the season started off with a strong performance.

“I thought we finished really well,” Bauerle said. “That is a really big deal for us because right now, we don’t have a lot of speed but I want to make sure that we are getting to a point to where we finished our races.”

 

Collin Huguley and Mary Ramsaier

 

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