Eyes on the prize, Georgia swimmers, eyes on the prize.
Starting Tuesday, Georgia will host the event that will make all the training, conditioning, early mornings, late nights and the smell of chlorine that never quite goes away, worth it.
All Georgia swimmers and divers could talk about for the past few months were the Southeastern Conference Championships, and the time has finally come.
“It’s going to be such a good, solid competitive meet,” junior swimmer Amber McDermott said. “And I hate traveling. So the fact that we get to stay here the whole week instead of ride a bus somewhere is really exciting for me.”
Head coach Jack Bauerle weighed in on what this meet means for his team as a whole.
“It’s more than just swimming fast,” Bauerle said. “It’s about getting as many people to qualify for NCAAs as possible. That’s what we’re looking at, and that’s the goal.”
The swimmers feel comfortable in their home pool in Gabrielsen Natatorium and know that no matter what, it will be a great competition.
“It’s such an honor to have every team in the conference come to us,” sophomore swimmer Ty Stewart said. “And more than that, we just have such a great facility here, and to have a home crowd to cheer us on is priceless.”
With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference, scoring will be a little different than the last time Georgia hosted in 2011, but the meet will last a full five days instead of six.
“The additions of both Missouri and A&M adds depth to our conference,” Bauerle said. “Yeah things are a little different now, but the essence of the meet is of course still the same. We’re looking forward to it for sure.”
Men’s and women’s swimming prelims will being at 10 a.m. each morning, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 18 and ending Saturday, Feb. 22. Diving prelims will occur Tuesday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and at 1 p.m. the rest of the week. Finals will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and at 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Finals on Saturday will be held at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to wrap up the Championships.
Keep up with The Red & Black for each daily recap of the 2014 SEC Championships.