The 3-0 Georgia swimming and diving team has swept every meet this fall, including a dominant performance against perennial men’s SEC champion Florida. For a program that hasn’t had a men’s or women’s team finish worse than No. 13 in the nation in the past three seasons, success is nothing new for the Bulldogs. But head coach Jack Bauerle thinks this year’s team has something special.
While last year’s team was successful, the 2020-21 squad has more talent in more events. The return of Olympics-bound redshirt senior Javier Acevedo helps, as does the addition of a few highly-touted freshmen.
Throughout its first three meets, Georgia’s men and women outscored opponents by a total of 175 points and of 152 points respectively. Last year, their margins were 80 and 99 points over another three-win start.
“We have multiple people who go very fast in some of the events, especially in some sprint frees,” said sophomore Dillon Downing. “We have more depth there than we did last year, especially the 100 free.”
Not only are the Bulldogs winning more events than last season, but they’re doing so with room to spare. They swept the top three spots of 15 events throughout their first three meets, which featured two SEC rivals with NCAA top 25 men’s and women’s teams.
“We have really good depth — the best depth we’ve had on the men’s [team] in maybe 10 years,” Bauerle said. “Yeah, we’re pretty good.”
Georgia’s eight freshmen constitute 15% of the 53-man roster, but they’ve made their presence well known this fall by winning first place in fifteen events and contributing in four relay victories.
“Having world class athletes who are able to win events as freshmen, it’s very encouraging,” Downing said. “It kind of pushes everyone to go faster.”
Maxine Parker headlines the freshman class on the women’s team, while top recruits Luca Orlando and Jake Magahey have had a huge impact on the men’s team in year one.
Parker has contributed in every relay the women’s team has won while notching four of her own wins in individual events, sprint freestyle being her specialty.
Freestyle is where fellow freshman Magahey shines as well. He posted six first place finishes in the nine freestyle events he’s raced at Georgia, including the 200, 500 and 1,000-meter.
Urlando has contributed to a relay victory for the Bulldogs in addition to dominating the 200 yard butterfly event, which he has yet to lose.
“We have a small freshman class, but they’ve come in and made a huge impact,” said senior Gabi Fa’amausili.
While this season’s meets haven’t been particularly close contests, practices are a different story. Not only does having talented freshmen help the team win, but it also pushes them to practice harder.
“At practice [the freshmen] are beating a lot of people,” Downing said. “You don’t want to be the one getting beat by a freshman.”
While the freshmen are keeping things competitive at practice, that competitive spirit persists across the board. For example, school record-holder and senior Camden Murphy is fighting to solidify his role on the men’s top relay team.
“The biggest thing is we have competition everywhere, and that really helps us out,” Bauerle said. “That’s a big deal.”