KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, January 26. THOUGH the Volunteers at the University of Tennessee are fierce conference and national competitors, it has to be deemed somewhat of a surprise that they were able to take down Southeastern Conference rivals Georgia today in their home pool in both men's and women's competition.
The Georgia women are expected to challenge for the NCAA team championship title in March, and though that statement still holds true, the Volunteers came out fighting, posting a couple of uspets to win the women's meet 161-139. According to information provided by UT, this was the first time Tenneessee had beaten Georgia in dual-meet action since 1989. Had this meet happened in Athens today, the coveted winning streak that Georgia boasts would have been snapped. The Tennessee men, viewed as going through a rebuilding phase under new head coach Matt Kredich, also pulled off a stunner, beating Georgia 161.5-132.5.
On the women's side, Tennessee's Lindsay Gendron was the star of the meet, taking down Olympic champion Allison Schmitt in the 200 free, 1:44.63-1:45.10. Gendron would return to post another victory in the 500 free over NCAA runner-up Amber McDermott with a five-second victory and a time of 4:44.04. Both times are Gendron's best swims of the season, with three weeks to go until the SEC championships.
Tennessee emerged victorious in nine other events in the women's meet. Kelsey Floyd also posted a double, winning both butterfly events with times of 52.51 and 1:56.32.
Molly Hannis and Faith Johnson were also double winners in today's big win. Hannis swept the breaststroke events (1:00.89, 2:11.47), while Johnson won the 50 (22.47) and 100 (49.71) freestyles. Johnson took down Schmitt in the 100 free by a mere tenth of a second.
Lauren Solernou took down Megan Roman in the 100 backstroke, winning with a time of 54.55 to Romano's 55.18. The Volunteers clinched the meet victory with wins in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay.
Georgia left the meet with wins from McDermott in the 1650 free (16:07.44), Hali Flickinger in the 200 back (1:58.33) and Melanie Margalis in the 400 IM (4:11.07).
In the men's meet, Georgia came in with the advantage, boasting an Olympian, an NCAA champion and a national champion. But home crowd advantage — and possibly a bit of rest — helped the Volunteers notch the win today. Tennessee won 10 of the 14 swimming events, taking the top two spots in five of them.
Sam Rairden and Sean Lehane were the MVPs of the meet, each winning two crucial races. Rairden took the 200 (1:37.74) and 100 (43.97), posting his fastest times of the season in both and leading a Volunteer 1-2 finish in the two races. Lehane contributed with wins in both backstrokes with times of 48.57 and 1:44.69. Those times also mark his fastest swims of the season.
Before finishing second in the 100 free behind teammate Rairden with a 44.45, Ed Walsh won the 50 free with a 19.99, his first time under 20 seconds this season and nearly clipped his lifetime best of 19.97.
Oystein Hetland was the other individual winner for the Volunteers, taking the 100 fly in 48.81. Tennessee also was able to win both relays.
Georgia's men's team had their share of victories, highlighted by another triple victory by freshman Chase Kalisz. In his third meet as a Bulldog, Kalisz once again pulled off an amazing triple, taking the 200 fly (1:46.89), 200 breast (1:58.09) and 400 IM (3:49.82).
Olympian Andrew Gemmell notched a win as well for Georgia, taking the 1650 free with a 15:17.87 ahead of teammate Will Freeman's 15:20.31.
Matias Koski won the 500 free with a 4:26.50. He beat out Gemmell to the wall by three tenths of a second.
Nicolas Fink also scored a win for Georgia, taking the 100 breast in 54.74.