ATLANTA, Ga. --- The Georgia women’s swimming and diving team claimed the program’s seventh national title on Saturday in the NCAA Championships in the McAuley Aquatic Center on the Georgia Tech campus.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the newly configured four-day national meet with 414 points to fight off Stanford (395). California came in third with 358 points, followed by Texas A&M (309) and Virginia (264).
After the meet, Georgia's Jack Bauerle was chosen as the National Women’s Coach of the Year for the seventh time.
After finishing third and losing their six-year grip on the Southeastern Conference title last month, it was unclear how the Lady Bulldogs would fare at the national meet. Many pundits had Georgia finishing as low as fourth or fifth 100 points out of first in pre-NCAAs evaluations. But it seemed as if every button the Georgia coaches pushed this week paid off with critical points from the swimmers and the diver.
“Winning the national championship is a feeling that never gets old,” Bauerle said. “But this one ranks right up there in terms of pure satisfaction. We knew coming in that it was going to be a rugged meet and that it was going to take a near-perfect effort. Our ladies stood up and competed hard. They did everything we asked of them and this is truly a team championship.”
The Lady Bulldogs now have won seven NCAA titles, including the 2013, 2014 and 2016 crowns. In the last 18 seasons, Georgia has been first or second at the NCAAs 15 times. Since the inception of the NCAAs in 1982 for women’s swimming and diving, Stanford leads with eight titles, followed by Georgia and Texas with seven each.
Olivia Smoliga set the pace on Saturday as she claimed the 100 freestyle title with a time of 46.70. That broke the school record of 47.01 set by Megan Romano in 2012.
“The win was huge for our team and that’s all mattered to me,” Smoliga said. “It’s such an honor to swim for this program and to have this opportunity. You get such an adrenaline rush when you’re swimming for your team.”
Brittany MacLean finished second in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 15:39.29, while Rachel Zilinskas took 14th in 16:06.74.
Annie Zhu took sixth in the 200 breaststroke as she reached the wall in 2:08.18.
In the 200 butterfly, Megan Kingsley placed third in 1:53.10 and Hali Flickinger followed in 1:53.32.
Needing a top-six effort to take the team crown, the Lady Bulldogs capped the night with the 400 freestyle relay of Smoliga, MacLean, Meaghan Raab and Flickinger coming in second with a time of 3:10.82.
The Georgia men will have their NCAAs at the McAuley Center Wednesday through Saturday.