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Veronica Burchill, a junior freestyle, butterfly, and individual medley swimmer from Carmel, Indiana, dives in during the evening session on the first day of competition at the SEC Swim and Dive Championships on Feb. 19, 2019 at the Gabrielson Natatorium in Athens, Georgia. Competition will continue in sessions until Saturday. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

The Georgia swimming and diving team has kept busy during the fall season, and it is only getting started. Though Gabrielsen Natatorium, Georgia’s home pool, has been quiet for far too long.

Georgia achieved victories over Alabama, North Carolina and Duke in October, only falling short to Florida in November, giving the men and women teams 3-1 records going into the spring season. All of these meets have been away.

“This year has been different from the past years because we have had a lot of away meets,” junior diver Josh Getty said. “Although all the traveling has been hard, it really has prepared us to face adversity and thrive in environments where everything is not going to be perfect.”

The most crucial away meet for the swimmers was the Tennessee Invitational back in November. The competitive midseason meet against Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee and Carson-Newman highlighted strong performances but also served as a learning experience going forward.

Freshman Zoie Hartman found the most success as she broke the school record in the preliminary round. The Bulldog men finished first on the second day of the invitational.

“Team-wise, we learned that we need to be a little louder when we are cheering. We know that we are going to be a better team than we originally thought,” senior Veronica Burchill said. “We are finally getting into a really good groove and I am really excited to see where everyone ends up in the next couple of months.”

For divers, the Tennessee Invitational was held in January, where they posted three top-10 finishes by women McKensi Austin, Frieda Lim and Kellian Howell.

Georgia’s swimmers said they did not let new pools and boards get the best of them, which is one of their proudest accomplishments of the fall season. They will take this momentum into the remainder of the season and especially to the NCAA championships in March.

“It really has prepared us to face adversity,” Getty said. “We had to get use to the pool and lighting. Not only has traveling and competing prepared us physically, but it taught us to maintain our strength. It also helped us with our mental game.”

Gabrielsen Natatorium will be rocking again as the Swimming and Diving team takes on Texas A&M on Saturday morning. Following the meet on Saturday, Georgia will take on Tennessee and Emory at home.

“Ever since the Tennessee Invite ended, we have been working really hard in and out of the pool,” Burchill said. “We have been trying to work on the little details and doing all the things we want to happen when the race days come.”

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