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The Georgia Swimming and Diving team hosted Texas A&M University in their first dual meet of the new year on Jan. 11, 2019 in the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Georgia. Both the Georgia Women and Men defeated their opponents. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

The Tennessee meet on Saturday was a test for the Georgia swimming and diving teams after coming off a sweep of Texas A&M two weeks before.

Competition was high as the Volunteers came to Gabrielsen Natatorium with their men ranked No. 12 and women ranked No. 4. Though the Georgia women fell short, the No. 8 Georgia men’s swimming and diving team ended Tennessee’s undefeated season, and both the men’s and women’s teams combined for three season highs.

The Bulldogs set the tone of the day with four wins before intermission, including 1-2-3 sweeps in two events. Junior Greg Reed secured a season best performance of 9:00.63 after finishing first in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Following him were sophomore Andrew Abruzzo (9:05.77) and senior Kevin Miller (9:11.32).

“This was definitely my best meet of the year and this is a good sign considering we are about to go to SECs,” Reed said. “It is one of the greatest feelings ever to know that you did your best and to see all of your teammates around you do their best.”

Still not satisfied with his results, Reed sees room for improvement moving forward in the season.

“The 1,000 was my best of the year — but [it was] not great compared to last year,” Reed said. “I would give myself a score of a seven or eight out of 10.”

Another season best time was achieved by Knoxville, Tennessee, native Walter Higgins. Higgins swam a time of 1:35.38 in the 200-yard freestyle to finish first.

Freshman Ian Grum and junior Jack Dalmolin powered through the second round of competition with two wins right out of intermission. Grum finished first in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 44.70.

“I was faster in my backstroke than I was two weeks ago,” Grum said. “I swam my hardest, and we are really excited for what is to come.”

Head coach Jack Bauerle said Grum came in at just the right time to save the day for the Bulldogs.

“Ian Grum is going to be a force,” Baurele said. “He sort of saved us a lot today.”

Just as Grum proved himself, Callie Dickinson also shined with a season best in the 200-yard butterfly. Dickinson swam a time of 1:56.37 and earned her first win of the season in the event, but the women were unable to pull off a win over Tennessee.

“The ladies were a bit more tired than I thought,” Bauerle said. “Tennessee is one of the best teams in the country, and Tennessee’s women are as good as I’ve seen since 2013.”

Coming into this meet, the Bulldogs did not know how it was going to turn out with tight competition against a ranked SEC opponent. In the end, Bauerle said he was surprised by the results and will take the momentum with them against Emory next week.

“There is no way in the world we thought we would come into this season so high,” Bauerle said. “We raced real well at the end in both relays, and they did a great job.”

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