In a deafening Gabrielsen Natatorium, Georgia swimmers took their career-bests to a new level at the second day of the SEC championships.
Wednesday’s competition schedule included nine new events in the preliminary stage, only seven of which Georgia contended in for the finals in the evening.
The preliminary rounds brought 15 of Georgia’s swimmers to new personal records in hopes of competing in the evening’s finals. Three of those new career-bests earned the swimmer a spot on Georgia’s all-time list.
Two new spots were filled in the women’s 200 individual medley as Olivia Carter and Callie Dickinson claimed eighth and ninth after the prelims. But Carter later claimed the No. 5 spot all-time after her 1:55.78 in the finals.
Junior Javier Acevedo climbed to the No. 7 spot with his performance in the men’s 200 individual medley during prelims. He went on to beat his prelim score by nearly a whole second in the finals Wednesday night, jumping to fifth on Georgia’s list and breaking his new personal record as he placed third in the 200 yard IM.
“[Georgia is] one of the best places to train IM’s in the entire world [and that] really helped me and my mindset today,” Acevedo said.
Freshman Andrew Abruzzo also beat a personal record set earlier in the day in his 500-yard freestyle race (4:16.35), cementing his spot at No. 10 in the event on Georgia’s all-time list.
Perhaps the most exciting accomplishment of the night was Courtney Harnish’s dominating win in the 500-yard freestyle, an event in which she placed second in at the conference championships last year and held the second-highest time in the nation before Wednesday’s final. Harnish set a new career best Wednesday night, as well as a new national best with a time of 4:35.52. She took the top position at the podium, where head coach Jack Bauerle presented her with a medal.
“You want to get off to a good start. It’s a war of attrition and it’s a five-day meet,” he said. “I think that’s virtually the best we could’ve done.”
Bauerle and Acevedo agreed on the point that the first few days of the championship meet aren’t the team’s most successful. In the coming days, Georgia will compete in more freestyle and butterfly races, which are their two strongest events.
“We have some big swims coming up with [Javier], Camden, Courtney, Olivia, Dakota...and I think we’ll have a few surprises too,” Bauerle said. “I feel a lot better about it than I did last time.”