Greg Reed, a freshman from Roanoke, Virginia, rests after swimming several laps at the University of Georgia swim meet, on February 3, 2018, in the Gabrielson Natatorium, at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

During the Georgia vs. Harvard dual meet for swimming this year, sophomore Greg Reed posted a personal-best time of 8:55.60 in the 1000-yard freestyle.

Going into the SEC championships, Reed currently has the sixth-best time in the country for the men's 1000-yard freestyle. Reed has posted times below nine minutes three out of the five dual meets this year, which is a stark contrast from last year when he failed to reach that time in all of his meets.

His consistency and the level of performance has propelled him into new heights this season. In one year, he has improved his time of 9:02.35 from last years’ SEC championships.

“Last year, he’d be with the pack then he would start making his move a little later,” senior swimmer Aidan Burns said. “This year, he’s just had start-to-start, wire-to-wire wins in all of his 1000’s.”

With the improved form in the pool, Reed’s teammates and coaches have taken noticed. All of them commented on his work ethic in practice. Junior swimmer Walker Higgins said his work ethic was “relentless” others referred to as “inspiring”.

“It’s inspiring honestly, Greg is one of the hardest workers on the team,” Higgins said. “He does some of the hardest practices day in and day out. Seeing someone work that hard and do that well is really encouraging for us. We know as swimmers that seeing someone excel like that with the training he does is, that we put in the effort we can succeed just like he does.”

Some of the training Reed has to do for distance is six-to-seven-minute-long swims in the pool. As Higgins described it, it’s normal for people to zone out during that exercise, but Reed keeps up his intensity for the entire workout.

The long-distance swimmers also have to do heart-rate exercises, and Higgins said Reed always hits the right range for his heart rate.

“When we are doing those longer swims, he’s always very consistent and takes a point of pride in making sure his times and heart rate are in the exact range,” Higgins said.

While Reed has coasted to new heights this season, his first year in college was a different story.

“I didn’t know what to expect, everyone comes into college thinking, ‘Holy Cow, these guys are insanely fast,’” Reed said. “How am I ever going to keep up with them? I’ve come to realize that they are super fast but so am I and so are all of my teammates. That’s helped calm my nerves a lot.”

Along with the mindset change, Reed also packed on muscle weight during all of last season. He entered college at 133 pounds and is now around the 150-pound mark.

Sophomore Camden Murphy said watching Reed swim the 1000-yard freestyle right before his 200-yard fly inspires him. With Reed having one of the first events in the meet, all of his teammates use his performance as a catalyst for the rest of the meet.

“Watching Greg just get up and go for that whole time, he finishes and has a great smile on his face,” Burns said. “It just gets the momentum of the meet in the right direction.”

Going into the SEC tournament this week, Reed wants to be that catalyst for his team, and lead through his actions and compete the way he was raised as a kid, which is to outwork your opponents.

“The kids that have ended up swimming fast and consistently usually get to a meet, and you’re not there with your finger crossed,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “You’re just thinking how fast is it going to be. That’s a nice feeling. As a coach, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

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