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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 Bulldogs opened the Georgia Invitational in commanding fashion, posting five national best times and a new school record Wednesday. After day one of the three day competition at Gabrielsen Natatorium, Georgia’s men’s and women’s teams lead Georgia Tech and Florida State by margins of more than 75 points each.

Georgia won 15 of 16 preliminary and final swimming events throughout the day, earning top three sweeps in five of 12 individual races. Including relays, 10 different Bulldogs took first place 

The Bulldogs set the tone early by winning every single event in the preliminary rounds. In the first event, the women’s 500-yard freestyle, Georgia posted a top four sweep with four season-best times. Seniors Courtney Harnish and Olivia Anderson came in first and second followed by sophomore Jillian Barczyk and junior Maddie Homovich at three and four.

The next two preliminaries were highlighted by Andrew Abruzzo winning the 500 freestyle with a personal best time of 4:13.54 and Georgia posting the top-seven times in the women’s 200 individual medley. 

The Bulldogs flirted with school records all day. Freshman Jake Magahey's winning time of 4:10.48 in the 500 freestyle is the second fastest in program history. 

“Jake was Jake tonight,” said head coach Jack Bauerle. 

Perhaps the most dominant performance was the 200 freestyle relay. Georgia’s A-team, consisting of seniors Javier Acevedo and Camden Murphy, junior Dillon Downing and freshman Luca Urlando, shattered the previous Georgia record with a time of 1:16.35 — the fastest time in the nation by more than two seconds. 

Diving remains a weak spot for the Bulldogs as they were unable to win first place in the diving preliminaries. Senior Zach Allen and freshman Meghan Wenzel did reach the podium, however. Allen took second place in the 1-meter with a score of 338.10 while Wenzel also posted a second best score of 283.40 in the 3-meter competition. 

The only swimming event the Bulldogs didn’t win was the men's 400 medley relay. While the women’s team posted the first and second fastest times, the men fell short by just over half a second in the final event of the day. 

“I think we could swim that relay better down the road,” said Bauerle. We got a little tired there at the end but [Georgia Tech’s] relay is good.”

Both Georgia’s men’s and women’s teams won their first three meets, and they continue to improve in their final tournament of 2020. 

“It’s easier to keep it rolling than to try to change it around, and right now, we’re rolling good,” Bauerle said. 

The Bulldogs will begin the second day of the three-day Georgia Invitational Thursday morning at Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens.