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Georgia's Clayton Forde competes in the men 1000 yard freestyle during a swim meet between the University of Georgia and the University of Texas in Athens, Georgia, Saturday, January 14, 2017. (Photo/Austin Steele, info@asteelephoto.us)

What was supposed to be Georgia’s last regular meet of the season before SEC and NCAA championships ended up with an intrasquad focused on gratitude and reminiscence for seniors.

The original meeting scheduled with Emory was canceled due to a major road accident on I-85 in Atlanta. Emory’s swimmers — who were not involved in the crash — were evacuated from their bus. As a result, Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle declared an intrasquad meet with a scrimmage to round out the regular season.

“It was an unusual day, but I am really proud of what we did today,” Bauerle said. “We learned a few things before SECs, and I think they handled it great.”

Though Emory was not present, nothing could take away the emotion that Georgia’s seniors had as they took their last home regular season race.

“I just love the atmosphere and coming to practice,” senior Lexi Glunn said. “Everyone just talks about their day and how they are doing, and I am really going to miss those personal connections. I think seeing the team every single day is going to be a big loss after I am done swimming.”

Besides competing on a nationally ranked Georgia team, one thing the seniors will miss the most is being with their team.

“I am going to miss the camaraderie of everything,” senior Clayton Forde said. “There's not a lot of real life situations where you get to spend four or five hours with your best friends everyday. Even if it is not the most fun stuff you are doing, you are still with them all the time, and I think that is pretty cool.”

Now, Georgia swimming and diving’s seniors will move onto new chapters of their life. Some will continue their racing careers, and others, like Glunn, will go from the pool to the business world.

“I am starting government consulting and finance,” Glunn said. “I am very excited, but I am definitely going to miss this a lot.”

Baurele has coached the seniors since day one and was overcome with emotion when describing their impact.

“A special thanks to the seniors, they put four years of their life into this,” Baurele said. “I saw a lot of emotions on the parents’ side. Sometimes it catches up to the parents faster than the athlete, because all of a sudden, this is finished. They put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this place, and it has been pretty neat to watch them.”

For the seniors and the rest of the swimming and diving team, they will now rest and prepare for the championship season. It is time for them to focus on getting healthy and mentally prepared for a busy couple of months.

“We will let a few more kids sleep in on Monday morning,” Bauerle said. “They could come in at 5:30 instead of 5 a.m. It’s a big deal actually.”

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