Jake Magahey Already Adding to Georgia Distance Legacy in Lead-Up to First NCAA Appearance

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Photo Courtesy: Christina Long / Georgia Athletics

Jake Magahey Already Adding to Georgia Distance Legacy in Lead-Up to First NCAA Appearance

When the University of Georgia men’s swimming and diving team had a virtual goals meeting at the start of this season, freshman Jake Magahey spoke up that he wanted to go 4:08 in the 500 freestyle. Coming in as the national high school record holder in the event with a 4:12, it may have seemed like a realistic drop, but Magahey was hesitant on saying it out loud.

“I’m not sure anyone remembers that but I said I want to go 4:08,” Magahey told Swimming World. “I remember saying that and thinking ‘that’s a four second drop! That’s a little bit far-fetched!’ I usually don’t like telling people my goals because I like keeping that personal but I did have the confidence I could go that fast.”

So when Magahey went 4:06 at the SECs last month in Columbia to be the second fastest performer of all-time, it wasn’t completely out of nowhere, but still a surprise.

“I did not expect to go that fast this soon. It makes me more excited to swim again.”

So how did Magahey improve so much in just one year in Athens in a pandemic season?

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Jake Magahey racing Kieran Smith at SECs. Photo Courtesy: Christina Long / Georgia Athletics

“I came here and swimming at Georgia is very competitive especially in distance group – there’s a lot of people to race,” Magahey said. “For the first week or two, I wasn’t doing bad but I wasn’t keeping up with Greg (Reed), Andrew (Abruzzo) and Aaron (Apel) so I relied more on my kick which has helped a lot so I had a more balanced stroke and a lot less wild. That has been the major difference. No one really told me to do it. I was slowly changing it as the season went on.”

Although his SEC performances – runner up in 500 and 1650 + champ in 200 free, was surprising initially for Magahey, it wore off when reflecting on the work he had done during the school year. For Magahey, being held to a higher standard at Georgia has been a big source of improvement amid the rich tradition that is the Georgia men’s distance group – a legacy that has been earned by seven individual champions in the 500 and 1650 since 2005. Head coach Jack Bauerle, who has been the head coach in Athens since the fall of 1983, is one of the most respected coaches in the business, and certainly brings out the best in his swimmers.

“I was talking to someone a couple days ago and they said he is like a swim encyclopedia,” Jake Magahey said. “He knows a lot of stuff and the way to do things. I have noticed he will come to me exactly how to swim, even before dive sets and get out swims, and usually he knows everyone’s strengths and how everyone should swim. He just knows! All the staff really care about you as a person and they show that.

“For me, a lot of times I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to let them down and I want to be at my best for them.”

Bauerle, although a multi-national champ on the women’s side, has only one top four men’s team in his tenure – a third place in 1997. The Bulldogs nearly ended Georgia’s SEC title streak that dates back to 1955, battling Florida down to the last day. With Magahey in just his freshman year, along with fellow freshman and SEC champ Luca Urlando, the Bulldogs look like one of the new powerhouses in men’s swimming. Even from day one this year with the return of Olympic redshirt Javier Acevedo and SEC butterfly champ Camden Murphy, the Bulldogs knew they had a special team in place.

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Jake Magahey. Photo Courtesy: Chamberlain Smith / Georgia Athletics

“There’s definitely been a shift of what we expect now and now we are one of the top teams in the country,” Magahey said. “I would say UGA has been a great program but in the past few years haven’t been in that conversation of being one of the best. I think starting now we will be in that conversation. That’s exciting for me because there is a shift in what we expect for ourselves and I think we are going to keep rolling and keep getting faster.”

Jake Magahey will enter his first NCAA championships this week in Greensboro, where he will swim the 200, 500 and 1650 freestyle events – his same lineup from last month’s SECs. In a year where the status of this meet was uncertain all season, the fact he will even get to dive into the pool in Greensboro to race is a feat worth celebrating in itself.

“I haven’t been to a high level national meet since 2019 Winter Juniors. It’s been a while since I have seen a lot of those guys. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and see some high level swimming across the board. But really I am excited to see a lot of the guys I haven’t seen. It has been a while!”

“The 500 will be exciting,” Magahey said. “I want to see if I can go down to 4:06 again and if I can top that. I think it was a pretty perfect race but I definitely can replicate it or go even faster. I am excited to see how that goes. I don’t know if I can say I am excited for the mile, that is a hard thing to say. I think I have a little more in the tank for me in that race. I’m excited for all of my races.”

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Susan Whitfield

    Wishing Jake all the speed he can muster in the NCAA Championships. He is a great guy and I know he can pull all his strength together to do his best. GO UGA and JAKE!!!!!!

  2. avatar
    J & S Stephenson

    So excited to see this great article about our nephew Jake. We wish we could have made the trip from California for the NCAA Meet. Go Jake and go Dawgs!