Georgia opens SECs by setting five school records

The Georgia swimmers and divers made an early splash in the 2014 Southeastern Conference championships, medaling in four events and setting five school records.

The No. 3 Lady Bulldogs lead the field with 187 points, and the No. 14 Bulldogs are tied for seventh with Missouri at a score of 124.

“It definitely was electric,” assistant coach Stefanie Williams said. “Both men’s and women’s swimming and diving did a phenomenal job to kick off the SECs for 2014. I’m excited. This is what we train for.”

Ann-Perry Blank became the first Georgia women’s diver to take gold in the 1-meter diving at the SEC championships. Her score of 325.5 is also the highest 1-meter diving score in a championship event in Georgia history, shattering the previous mark of 315.7.

“I didn’t come into the meet expecting this at all,” Blank said. “I was just really happy to make finals. I told myself to just have fun and dive. It happened to work in my favor. This is not like anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

Laura Ryan placed third with a score of 320.5.

“(Blank) stepped up and took care of business tonight,” diving coach Dan Laak said. “She worked really hard this year and deserved to win. Having two on the awards stand is pretty special.”

In the 200 medley relay, the team of Olivia Smoliga, Melanie Margalis, Lauren Harrington and Chantal Van Landeghem placed first and set a new Georgia record of 1:35.52.

“We’ve come a long way from last year,” Harrington said. “That used to be our relay that people would poke fun at. But with these awesome new underclassmen stepping up to the plate, it’s cool to see what we can do.”

Taylor Dale, Nicolas Fink, Doug Reynolds and Michael Trice placed second in the 200 medley relay and also set a school record, clocking in at 1:26.87. This NCAA automatic qualifying time broke the previous mark by more than two seconds.

In the women’s 800 freestyle relay, Shannon Vreeland, Amber McDermott, Margalis and Brittany MacLean set a new Gabrielsen Natatorium record and took gold with a time of 6:53.04. Finally, the team of Matias Koski, Chase Kalisz, Jameson Hill and Alec Cohen placed fourth in the 800 freestyle relay with their A-cut time of 6:20.26. This is the fastest time in Georgia history.

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