Lady Bulldogs sweep SEC awards

Brittany MacLean, Laura Ryan, Olivia Smoliga and Shannon Vreeland gave Georgia a clean sweep in the Southeastern Conference women’s swimming and diving awards announced on Thursday.

MacLean was named the SEC Swimmer of the Year, Ryan earned SEC Diver of the Year honors, Smoliga was picked as the SEC Freshman of the Year and Vreeland was selected as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Dan Laak was recognized as the Women’s Diving Coach of the Year.

Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle, who is being investigated by the NCAA, was shut out from the coach of the year award.

MacLean won the 500 and 1,650 freestyle races and was on the victorious 800 freestyle relay at the SECs as the Lady Bulldogs claimed their fifth straight conference title. MacLean followed up that performance by winning the 500 and 1,650 freestyle titles at the NCAAs and earning Swimmer of the Meet honors to help Georgia win its second consecutive national championship.

Ryan finished first on 3-meter, second on platform and third on 1-meter at the SECs and was chosen as the Diver of the Meet. At the NCAAs, she became Georgia’s first national champion as she won the 1- and 3-meter titles and was picked as the Diver of the Meet.

Smoliga won the 50 and 100 freestyle at the SECs and helped the 200 medley and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays finish first. She earned the Commissioner’s Trophy for high-point honors. Smoliga continued her success at the NCAAs as she won the national title in the 50 freestyle.

Vreeland boasts a 3.83 grade point average in economics. She is a recipient of the Ramsey Scholarship for Academic and Athletic Excellence, and she previously has been recognized as an Academic All-American and Scholar All-American. Vreeland won the 200 freestyle and was on the victorious 400 and 800 freestyle relays at the SECs. She ended her career as a 19-time All-American, a seven-time SEC champion and a four-time NCAA champion.

Laak earned Diving Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time, but for the first time on the women’s side. He coached gold medalists Ryan and Ann-Perry Blank (1-meter) at the SEC meet and then oversaw Ryan’s record-setting performance at the NCAAs. Laak just completed his 27th season at Georgia.

The All-SEC First Team featured 11 Lady Bulldogs: MacLean, Ryan, Smoliga, Vreeland, Blank, Jessica Graber, Lauren Harrington, Maddie Locus, Melanie Margalis, Amber McDermott and Chantal Van Landeghem. Hali Flickinger, Annie Zhu and Rachel Zilinskas made the Second Team, and Smoliga and Zilinskas headlined the All-Freshman Team.

On the men’s side, SEC champions Nicolas Fink (100 breaststroke) and Chase Kalisz (400 individual medley) were chosen for the First Team. Taylor Dale, Andrew Gemmell, Matias Koski, Doug Reynolds, Ty Stewart and Michael Trice made the Second Team, while Dale and Pace Clark were selected for the All-Freshman Team.