ATHENS, Georgia, January 25. AFTER serving a two-week suspension for academic issues, Chase Kalisz returned to competition for the Georgia Bulldogs today, winning three events as the Georgia men’s and women’s teams defeated Tennessee on their home turf.
Though head coach Jack Bauerle remains on suspension, he will be credited with both wins today to bring his total of dual-meet victories to 503 in 36 seasons. The Georgia men pulled off a 161.5-135.5, while the women beat Tennessee 177.5-114.5.
Kalisz showed that, despite his suspension, he’s still one to beat at the NCAA championships. He started his day with a solid 1:46.13 in the 200 fly, followed by a 1:58.87 in the 200 breast and 3:49.65 in the 400 IM. With the meet locked up for Georgia by the 400 IM, Kalisz and his Georgia teammates swam exhibition.
Though Kalisz’s return was the talk of the meet, Brittany MacLean’s win in the 1000 free was the highlight. She posted a 9:36.85 in the event to sit at the top of the collegiate ranks. Previously, Elizabeth Beisel’s 9:38.49 from November (against Georgia) was the fastest time in the non-championships event. MacLean’s best of the season had been a 9:40.18 from the dual meet against Texas A&M two weeks ago. Tennessee’s Lindsay Gendron almost beat her season best of 9:42.30 with a runner-up time of 9:43.45 today. Amber McDermott of Georgia beat her season best of 9:44.40 today by finishing third with a 9:43.52.
Olympian Andrew Gemmell has posted many wins in the dual-meet season, so today’s victory in the 1000 freestyle was likely a boost for him as he posted a 9:10.69, just a few tenths slower than his best time of the season. Gemmell accelerated after the 500-yard mark, winning by four seconds over teammate Garrett Powell (9:14.36) and 10 seconds ahead of Will Freeman (9:20.34) for a 1-2-3 sweep for the Bulldogs.
With only the men’s 1000 for rest, MacLean returned to win the 200 free with a 1:46.93. That’s two seconds off her season best, but a remarkable swim given that she had just finished the grueling 1000 freestyle. Gendron finished second to MacLean again with a 1:47.01, while Georgia’s Shannon Vreeland was third in 1:47.86.
Four men were in a tight battle for the win in the 200 free, and it went to distance ace Matias Koski with a 1:38.54. Georgia’s Conor Sweeney and Tennessee’s Sam Rairden tied for second with a 1:38.84, while Georgia’s Alec Cohen took fourth with a 1:39.05.
National high school record holder – and recent Swimming World Magazine cover personality – Olivia Smoliga won the 100 back with a 54.13. Tennessee got its first win of the day when Sean Lehane won the men’s 100 back with a 48.15, one hundredth of a second ahead of Georgia’s Taylor Dale.
Melanie Margalis won the first of her two events in the 100 breast with a 59.82, beating out Tennessee’s Molly Hannis (1:01.19). Nic Fink took the men’s 100 breast with a 54.59.
Georgia would continue its winning streak as Hali Flickinger won the women’s 200 fly with a 1:58.51 over teammate Lauren Harrington’s 1:58.82. After Kalisz’s win in the 200 fly, Maddi Locus won the women’s 50 free in 22.67 over NCAA finalist Faith Johnson of Tennessee, who posted a 22.77 as the only two swimmers under 23 at the meet.
Tennessee’s Luke Percy took the men’s 50 free with a 20.25, his third-fastest swim of the season. He would return to win the 100 free with a 44.10.
Vreeland took the women’s 100 free with a 50.04, holding off Smoliga, who posted a 50.24. Margalis’ second win of the meet came in the 200 back, where she won by more than a second with a 1:55.56. That’s her fastest time of the season by about three tenths of a second.
Lehane wrapped up the backstroke double with a 1:44.09 in the 200 backstroke, while Hannis kept Tennessee’s win streak going with a 2:11.92 in the 200 breast over the 2:12.37 posted by Georgia’s Annie Zhu.
Amber McDermott kept MacLean from a hat trick of wins today, taking the 500 free with a 4:46.56 to MacLean’s 4:46.67. Notably, both have swum well under 4:40 this season.
Koski took a second victory in the 500 free, letting teammate Powell lead through 350 yards before powering home with a 4:29.17 to Powell’s 4:29.49.
Georgia also swept the 100 fly events, as Harrington won the women’s race with a 53.80 and Pace Clark took the men’s event with a 48.54.
Though the 400 IM races were swum as exhibitions for Georgia, Nicole Vernon posted the fastest time in the women’s race with a 4:12.98, her fastest time of the season.
The Tennessee men got some big help in the points, as Mauricio Robles won both men’s diving events. Tori lamp took the 1-meter event for Tennessee, while Georgia’s Ann-Perry Blank won the women’s 3-meter springboard.