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Zoie Hartman swims breaststroke. 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)

Georgia women's swimming and diving closed with 999 points to finish third overall at the SEC championships on Saturday night.

Trailing only Kentucky and Florida, Georgia earned its highest finish since 2018. The Bulldogs improved from last season, where they finished fourth with 986 points.The Georgia women’s swimming and diving team took third in the 800 freestyle relay for the second consecutive year to start the SEC Championships.

Senior Courtney Harnish, junior Callie Dickinson, and sophomores Jillian Barczyk and Zoie Hartman finished the 800 freestyle relay with an A-cut time of 6:59:42 and ranked fifth nationally. Harnish led the relay team with a personal best 200 freestyle split of 1:42:96, which ranked eighth in program history.

The 200 medley relay team of seniors Harnish, Gabi Fa’amausili, Danielle Della Torre and freshman Maxine Parker came in second with an overall time of 1:35:49, but was disqualified for a false start.

The women’s diving championships began with the 1-meter springboard event. Junior Tally Brown posted the Bulldog’s best score with 241.40 points, earning 16th place. Freshman Meghan Wenzel (231.70) and junior Ellie Crump (228.60) finished 21st and 23rd.

Bulldogs bounce back on day two

Georgia leapt from 11th to second place following ten individual scoring performances with two first place finishes on the second day of competition.

Harnish finished first by over three seconds with a time of 4:35:33 in the 500 freestyle. This personal best time earned her third consecutive gold in the event and ranked third in school history and second in the nation this season.

Hartman grabbed her third SEC individual title with her first place finish in the 200 IM, which ranked as the third fastest time in the nation at 1:53:68.

Head coach Jack Bauerle expressed gratitude for both Harnish and Hartman’s abilities that they bring to the team.

“Those two, you can hang your hat on,” Bauerle said. “We just know what we’re gonna get all the time. I’m glad they’re with us.”

Other scoring performances included Della Torre (1:55:29) and Parker (21.93), who both finished fourth in the 200 IM and 50 freestyle, respectively. They joined Hartman and Fa’amausili in the closing 200 freestyle relay and finished fifth with a B-cut time of 1:28:61.

Two gold medals keep Georgia in top five

Three podium appearances and 13 individual scoring performances put Georgia in fourth place to conclude the third day of competition.

Hartman broke the 100 breaststroke record for the fourth time to win her second individual gold of the meet. The A-cut time of 57.40 held off a strong challenge from Tennessee freshman Mona McSharry.

“I definitely knew where (McSharry) was,” Hartman said. “She’s a great competitor and definitely made me go faster today…I just felt confident in what I can do and believed in what I could do.”

Hartman later joined Harnish, Fa’amausili and Parker for their first-place finish in the 400 medley relay with an A-cut time of 3:29:41. This time ranked second in program history and was the first SEC relay victory for Georgia since 2017.

In the 200 freestyle, Harnish earned her second medal of the day as she tied for silver with Texas A&M’s Chloe Stepanek. Barczyk, Parker and freshman Sloane Reinstein each posted personal best times in the event, with Barczyk placing first in the C final.

The women’s diving competition concluded with the platform event, where Brown led the Bulldogs with a 17th-place score of 204.20. Wenzel (182.00) scored with a 22nd place finish, while Crump’s 25th and junior Kelliann Howell’s 26th place finishes narrowly missed scoring positions.

Georgia ends SEC Championships on the podium

Hartman led the team with 96 points, which tied with Alabama’s Rhyan White for the SEC Commissioner’s Trophy, awarded to the highest-scoring swimmer. Hartman won her fifth and sixth medals of the meet on the final night in the 200 breaststroke and 400 freestyle relay.

“She’s a little bit of a game changer,” Bauerle said. “She races hard. She knows how to get her hand to the wall. When she goes head-to-head with somebody, you just feel confident.”

In the 200 butterfly, junior Dakota Luther broke the SEC, Georgia and Gabrielsen Natatorium records, along with setting the nation's fastest time of 1:52:04. Harnish (1:53:18) followed in second and junior Callie Dickinson (1:55:84) rounded out Georgia’s dominant performance in fifth place.

Georgia will continue its season in the Bulldog Invitational Last Chance Meet on Feb. 27-28 before the NCAA Championships begin March 8.

“This is the tough part,” Bauerle said. “We have to be willing, and we are willing to work. We’re going to try to get better. We’re not satisfied with where we are.”