Oct. 22, 2009

Courtesy Georgia Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia swimming and diving teams will kick off the 2009-10 season on Friday with their traditional openers against North Carolina.

Friday’s meets will start at 3 p.m. at Gabrielsen Natatorium inside the Ramsey Center. Admission is free. This will mark the 13th time in the last 15 years that Georgia has opened the season against North Carolina.

“Our kids are ready to swim a meet,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “They’re tired of seeing the same faces; they want a little company in the water. We are looking forward to going against North Carolina, which is a perennial ACC power. It’s always a great challenge to open up with them.”

“We are anxious to see what our divers can do,” Georgia diving coach Dan Laak said. “They’ve been working extremely hard in the pool and in the weight room, and they all are diving pretty well for this time of year. North Carolina has some pretty good divers, so I think it will be a great meet. It will be a good indicator to see where we are.”

Coming off a 2008-09 campaign in which they finished second at the NCAA Championship, the Lady Bulldogs appear poised for another strong run. Georgia returns individual national champions in Allison Schmitt and Wendy Trott, along with an NCAA-winning 200 medley relay of Kristen Shickora, Kelly McNichols, Lisa Caprioglio and Anne-Marie Botek. Diver Hannah Moore also was a conference and national scorer a year ago.

The Lady Bulldogs, who are 18-1 all-time against North Carolina, will be trying to extend a dual-meet home win streak as well. Dating back to the 1995-96 season, Georgia has won 65 straight at Gabrielsen Natatorium. That is the second-longest streak in school history as men’s tennis won 76 straight over parts of the 1960s and 1970s under Coach Dan Magill (a swimming letterman from 1940-42). The current men’s tennis team has won 60 consecutive at home.

“We are proud of the streak, but it’s certainly more important to us that we are prepared and that we get this season off on the right foot,” Bauerle said. “Our ladies are ready to go. We’re expecting some great races from our kids.”

The Bulldogs will be led by NCAA champion Troyden Prinsloo and NCAA runner-up Mark Dylla. Georgia leads North Carolina 17-10 in a series that dates back to 1952.

“Our men have some holes to fill, and we’re dealing with some injuries and some sickness right now,” Bauerle said. “On paper, the teams look pretty even. We’re looking forward to it. It should be a heck of a meet.

“On both sides, these meets are not won and lost by just the very best but also by those trying to be the very best. We are making progress, and this is an exciting way to start the season.”

Both North Carolina teams are off to 3-0 starts with wins over East Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.