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Courtney Harnish, a sophomore freestyle and butterfly swimmer from York, Pennsylvania, swims the 1650 yard freestyle during finals on Feb. 23, 2019 at the Gabirelson Natatorium in Athens, Georgia. The University of Georgia hosted the 2019 SEC Swim and Dive Championship over five days. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

The Georgia swimming and diving team headed to Auburn, Alabama, on Tuesday morning for the the 2020 SEC championships. The first half was met with several record-breaking times and two gold medals as Georgia consistently climbs the rankings.

Men’s and women’s teams saw matching success in Day One

Both the men and women dominated in the 800 freestyle relay with a pair of bronze medals and record-setting times to highlight day one.

The men’s 800 freestyle squad of senior Walker Higgins, freshman Harry Thomas, junior Grant Norgan and freshman Zach Hills finished third with an A-cut time of 6:16.34. Higgins recorded the second-best 200-yard split time in school history and his personal time of 1:33.45.

The women’s 800 free relay squad of junior Courtney Harnish, senior Jordan Scout, sophomore Dakota Luther and freshman Zoie Hartman also finished third with a season-best-A cut time of 6:59.14.

With their strong 200-yard start, Higgins and Harnish set the momentum for the remainder of the relay. Additionally, two other finishing times in the 200 medley relays for men and women were marked in Bulldog history.

The women’s team of Gabi Fa’amausili, Hartman, Luther and senior Veronica Burchill finished with a season-best B-cut time of 1:36.79. In the men’s 200 medley, freshmen Ian Grum and Dillon Downing, juniors Jack Dalmolin and Camden Murphy placed eighth with a time of 1;25.19. Both times earned them the No.8 time in all-time school standings.

In the diving prelims, sophomore Ellie Crump posted Georgia’s top mark in the women’s 1-meter springboard. On the men’s 3-meter, juniors Josh Getty and Zach Allen ranked 23rd and 24th.

To end the first day of competition, the women’s team sat in seventh place with 111 points and the men’s were 10th at 101 points.

Two trips to the podium and a gold medal highlight Day Two

The men’s and women’s teams rose six spots to fifth place at the end of the second day of competition.

Harnish returned to the 500 freestyle as an SEC Champion and her time of 4:36.48 won her the title once again. This is her third conference title and now places fourth-fastest in the nation.

The women earned 310 points with the help of two A-cut times from Hartman and the women’s 200 freestyle relay team.

Over on the men’s side, freshman Dillon Downing posted the second-fastest time in school history with a mark of 19.32 in the 50 free prelims. Clayton Forde started off the 200 IM with a personal-best time of 1:44.87 and multiple scores in the B and C final followed.

In diving, Zach Allen placed 12th on the 1-meter springboard and Josh Getty earned a point for the Bulldog men.

Three trips to the podium on Day Three

It was a close race between Georgia’s Veronica Burchill and Arkansas’ Anna Hopkin in the 200 as Burchill just barely topped Hopkin by .02 seconds. Burchill took the gold medal with her time of 1:42.33, placing herself second-fastest in the nation and fourth-fastest in Georgia history.

Thanks to Burchill, a bronze medal for Harnish, seventh place in the women’s 100 fly for Dakota Luther and an additional two trips to the podium, the women’s team finished day three with 456 points.

Georgia men moved up in the rankings again to third place with 493.5 points with a strong team effort and one trip to the podium. Junior Camden Murphy represented Georgia after he placed third in the men’s 100 butterfly with a time of 45.47. Junior Grant Norgan placed sixth in the A final of the 200 free, Abruzzo and Clayton Forde took seventh and eighth in the 400 IM A Final.

In the B final, Grum pulled away late to win with a season-best time of 3:43.93. Junior Greg Reed and Aaron Apel also scored points for the Bulldogs in prelims.

Georgia’s list of fastest-times just got much longer as the first three days of the SEC championships come to a close. Going into the fourth day, Georgia has seven medals, two of which are gold from Burchill and Harnish. Burchill and Hartman are currently ranked top in the nation. Three top seeds will begin the second half of competition on Friday: the 400 medley, Luther in the 200 fly and Hartman in the 100 breast.

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