Big Day for Kieran Smith (500 Free, 200 IM and Relays) at Georgia Tech Invite

Kieran Smith -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Big Day for Kieran Smith (500 Free, 200 IM and Relays) at Georgia Tech Invite

Coming off a sensational summer in which he won Olympic bronze in the 400-meter freestyle and established himself as America’s best 200 freestyler, Kieran Smith looks like he’s on track for another standout season during his senior year with the Florida Gators. The team’s first big meet of the season, the Georgia Tech Invitational, began with Smith winning four of the five men’s events on the docket.

First, Smith anchored Florida’s 200 free relay team in 19.29 as the Gators held off in-state rival Florida State for the win. Adam Chaney (19.23), Eric Friese (18.93), Will Davis (19.23) and Smith swam a 1:16.68, just ahead of FSU’s 1:16.96. Max McCuster anchored in 18.97 for the Seminoles. Georgia placed third in 1:18.25.

Next, Smith won the 500 free in 4:10.72, well off his American and NCAA record of 4:06.32 but enough to hold off Florida teammate Alfonso Mestre (4:11.26). Florida actually went 1-2-3-4 here with Trey Freeman taking third (4:13.87) and 800 and 1500-meter free Olympic gold medalist Bobby Finke finishing fourth (4:15.21). Smith won again in the 200 IM, leading wire-to-wire and putting up a 1:42.52 to beat out Georgia’s Zach Hils (1:44.52) and Auburn’s Reid Mikuta (1:44.76) by two seconds.

In the men’s 50 free, Chaney and Georgia’s Dillon Downing tied for the win in 19.18, and McCuster took third in 19.41. But the Smith show resumed in the men’s 400 medley relay. Chaney (46.46), Dillon Hillis (52.36), Friese (44.97) and Smith (41.98) pulled away from the field to win in 3:05.77, followed by Auburn (3:06.65) and Florida State (3:06.81).

In the women’s meet, Auburn’s Lexie Mulvihill (22.39), Mykenzie Leehy (22.04), Emma Steckiel (22.07) and Rebekah Hamilton (21.67) swam a 1:28.17 to win the 200 free relay. Florida took second (1:29.44), and Florida State placed third (1:30.00).

The women’s 500 free saw Georgia’s Abby McCulloh continue what has been a remarkable freshman campaign. McCulloh fended off a fast start from Florida’s Tylor Mathieu and ended up winning by eight tenths, 4:39.17 to 4:39.98. Auburn’s Emily Hetzer finished third in 4:41.02. Georgia got another win in the women’s 200 IM from junior Zoie Hartman (1:55.20). Hartman was the runner-up in the event at last season’s NCAA Championships. Auburn’s Hannah Ownbey (1:57.36) and FSU’s Nina Kucheran (1:57.56) took second and third, respectively.

Finally, the Bulldogs continued their momentum with Gabi Fa’Amausili spearheading two more wins. Fa’Amausili won the 50 free in 22.27, followed by Florida’s Talia Bates (22.41) and FSU’s Rebecca Moynihan (22.43). Then, Fa’Amausili (53.81), Hartman (58.50), Dakota Luther (52.52) and Maxine Parker (48.40) won the 400 medley relay in 3:33.23. Florida State finished second in 3:34.03, and Auburn finished third (3:35.73).

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