Squaring off against one of on elite Division I squads in the country, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both fell to the University of Georgia (UGA) Bulldogs this weekend. During the meet, the teams posted a total of eight provisional qualifying times and a pair of victories. The men’s record is now 0-4 on the season, while the women stand at 2-2.
“We will race anybody that wants to schedule us,” Head Coach Jon Howell said. “There are a lot of teams who may be intimidated by UGA, but we will race anybody and race hard. For us it is a question of getting better.”
The men did not make the victory easy for Georgia, losing to the 10th ranked Bulldogs by a score of 114-83.
“Georgia is strong on the men’s side, but we had a chance to win some races,” Howell said. “It was a lot of fun for our guys to be in that situation.”
The Eagles were led by a strong, first-place performance in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The team, consisting of junior Jake Stephens, junior Ryan Bass, senior Richard Upton and junior Ross Spock, won the race with a time of 1:23.04, posting a NCAA ‘B’ cut time in the process.
“The 200 free relay team has been good all season long and did a great job,” Howell said. “They had to be good as a foursome, and keep their heads in the right spot and they won that event outright.”
The men also delivered outstanding performances in the 200-yard butterfly, with senior Miller Douglas winning the event with a time of 1:52.21 and sophomore Hayden Baker finishing second, posting a time of 1:53.20. Both swims merited provisional qualifying times.
Also recording ‘B’ cut times were Stephens in the 400-yard individual medley, completing the event in 4:04.28 and senior Justin Beegle in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:06.21). Spock also contributed a second place finish for the Eagles, finishing the 100-yard freestyle in 47.01.
“There is a certain confidence that comes from swimming fast against people with Olympic experience,” Howell said, referencing the 14 past, present or future UGA swimmers who competed in London this summer. “When we get to D-III nationals, we know we can swim against anybody. We will not be in a meet all year that will be this fast, including the national championships. There is a lot of growth that comes from this experience.”
While the women claimed no victories against the third-ranked Georgia squad, which includes Olympic gold medalists Allison Schmitt and Shannon Vreeland, they managed to post three provisional qualifying times during the meet.
“It is always really neat to swim against a team like UGA that has multiple Olympians and a very fast roster,” junior Sadie Nennig wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Going into the meet, we aren’t stressed about walking out with a win. I think instead we really embrace the idea that these are some of the country’s fastest swimmers and use it as an opportunity to make ourselves better.”
Individually, Nennig and Brooke Woodward posted the strongest performances for the Eagles. Woodward finished fifth in the 400-yard individual medley, and her time of 4:35.00 was good for a ‘B’ cut time. Nennig came in second in the 200-yard backstroke, and her time of 2:04.48 was also a provisional qualifying mark.
“I am very pleased with how my 200 back went,” Nennig wrote. “I was feeling good in warm ups and knew I could put together a great swim. It was my only individual race so I gave it everything I had.”
Also posting a ‘B’ cut time for the Eagles were the relay squad of senior Anna Dobben, senior Renee Rosenkranz, sophomore Nancy Larson and junior Ellen Schafer, who delivered a time of 1:36.46 in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Larson also turned in an individual second place performance in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing in 52.48 seconds.
“Going against a team of that caliber, some do really well, and for others, it is more of a challenge,” Howell said. “But we learn from these experiences. Our goal is to be effective not only in ideal circumstances, but in challenging environments like this one. Our women did a great job and put up a number of season best times and really outstanding races.”
Members of the diving squad competed in the Phoenix Fall Classic at the University of Chicago (Ill.) over the weekend as well.
Juniors Sarah Greene and Annabel Enquist led the team. Greene won both dive events of the meet, while Enquist recorded one second place finish. In the three-meter dive, Greene won the event with a 438.5, a career best mark and a NCAA qualifying score. Enquist finished second in the event, and her mark of 415.95 was also both a career high and NCAA qualifying score.
In the one-meter dive, Greene won once again, recording a score of 435.5, another qualifying mark. Enquist’s score of 374.40 was good for fourth.
The swimming and diving teams will not compete over Thanksgiving break, but get back in the pool to wrap up their fall season at the Miami (Ohio) Invitational and the Georgia Tech Fall Invitational, starting Nov. 29.
— By Bennett Ostdiek