ATHENS, Ga, May 9. GEORGIA swimmers Robert Margalis and Mary DeScenza paced the 2003 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Awards announced by the league office Monday.
Margalis was named the Male Swimmer of the Year, while DeScenza garnered SEC Freshman of the Year accolades on the women’s side.
The awards are voted on by the league’s coaches at their annual SEC meeting in the spring. Margalis is the first Georgia male to earn swimmer of the year distinction by the SEC, and he is the first Bulldog to be honored by the conference since Jud Campbell was named Diver of the Year in 2001. DeScenza is the second Lady Bulldogs to be tabbed SEC Freshman of the Year award after Maritza Correia claimed the inaugural honor in 2000.
Margalis became Georgia’s first NCAA champion since Kris Babylon won the 200-yard individual medley in 1997, as the Bulldog sophomore touched the wall in a personal-best 3:39.92 to win the 400-yard individual medley at the 2003 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. The mark, second-fastest all-time, also lowered the Georgia record, the 3:41.42 that Margalis established at last year’s NCAAs. Margalis, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., was runner-up in the 500-yard free.
“We are very excited for Robert. This is quite a prestigious award in this conference and one that is hard earned,” said Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle. “It is always great to see the program’s hardest worker rewarded for his efforts. He is a terrific individual swimmer, but he has a tremendous impact on the 800 free relay, and down the road he will be a force on our 4×100 (relay).”
At the SEC Championships in Auburn, Margalis won the 500-yard freestyle and finished third in both the 1,650-yard freestyle and the 400-yard individual medley.
“He has done a tremendous job since he has been here,” added Bauerle. “(Assistant coach) Harvey (Humphries) has done a tremendous job with him on a day-to-day basis. We are proud of Robert and proud for our program.”
DeScenza capped a brilliant rookie campaign by breaking the school record and winning her first NCAA individual title with a time of 1:53.51 in the 200-yard butterfly –