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University of Georgia head swim coach Jack Bauerle looks on during a dual meet against the University of Texas Austin at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on Jan. 12, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. During coach Bauerle’s tenure, the lady bulldogs have achieved seven NCAA titles. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

For two freshmen on the Georgia swimming and diving team, years of high school practices, preseason workouts and club competitions culminated on Oct. 4 with standout debut performances and a Georgia sweep of the hosting Crimson Tide.

Yet SEC Freshman of the Week recipients Ian Grum and Zoie Hartman have taken these successes in stride. 

Still plain-clothed before Wednesday’s practice, Grum spoke poolside about his first collegiate meet.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from it,” Grum said. “The energy was awesome.”

Factoring into his decision to attend UGA and swim under head coach Jack Bauerle was the energy he felt from the team’s coaches and the cohesion he noted between the men's and women’s teams.

Having never previously experienced a college dual meet, even as a spectator, Grum relied on his training to navigate such uncharted waters. But he felt prepared following his smooth transition to the collegiate level.

“My club team really set me up well.” said Grum, “I had a really good summer training-wise, so I knew carrying the energy into that would do me well.”

For Grum, his current in-pool training differs little from that of his club career. However, he felt ready despite an extra practice each week and an increased focus on weight training.

Grum’s 17 points earned him some kudos from teammates, but he knows this is just the jumping off point. Every week he’s expected to carry his own, so even if more distinctions like Freshman of the Week come his way; well, that’s just more motivation.

“I’m not really stuck up on it,” Grum said about receiving the honor. “I just keep on swimming.”

Hartman echoed the excitement of her teammate in recalling her emotions before their debut meet. Her initial adrenaline was tempered early on when she learned she’d be competing in the first event: the women’s 200 medley relay.

“I love relays,” Hartman said. “You’re not alone. You have everyone to share the excitement with.”

With the second fastest split for the Bulldogs in that opening heat, she was able to tackle the rest of the meet with a collegiate victory already under her belt. Yet that win fit squarely within the buzz that followed Hartman to Georgia after she posted the fastest 200 breaststroke time in her recruiting class. 

Seemingly unaware of both that statistic and her ranking by SwimSwam as the number two overall women’s recruit for the class of 2019, Hartman continues to keep outside expectations at a stroke’s length.

“I try to not let the pressure get to me,” Hartman said. “All the pressure that I put on was from myself.”

Like Grum, Hartman found her transition into college athletics manageable due to past club training routines. This experience was on display throughout the Alabama meet as her individual victories in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke made her the top scoring freshman of the entire event with 18 points.

While she felt relieved to have jump-started her Georgia career, Hartman’s enjoyment of that first dip into collegiate swimming left her wanting more.

“I got the first one out of the way. I'm really excited to go have our next home meet,” she said.

However, ‘more’ for Hartman is a relative term. While she appreciated her teammates’ recognition and her parents’ congratulations after receiving her fist SEC accolade, Hartman’s goals for the season remain team-oriented. She envisions a top-five finish for the Bulldogs at the NCAAs.

Hartman plans to contribute by keeping her head down and, in her words, “doing what I do.”

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