The Georgia and NC State swim teams gathered on opposite sides of the pool following their meet Saturday at Gabrielsen Natatorium.
AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto
Swimmers compete in the men's 100 yard breaststroke during a swim meet between Georgia and NC State at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga., Sat. Jan. 4, 2014.
The teams collectively exchanged chants of best wishes, customary in swimming, but one chant from the Wolfpack seemed to linger in the humid air a bit longer.
“Congrats, Jack!” aimed at Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle for notching his 500th and 501st career wins.
One problem — Bauerle wasn’t in the Georgia huddle.
He wasn’t on deck to coach the No. 4 Lady Bulldogs to a 186-113 win and the No. 10 Bulldogs to a 156-142 win.
He wasn’t even in the building due to a suspension from competition that was announced Saturday morning pending the academic eligibility review of sophomore swimmer Chase Kalisz.
“Jack was able to meet with the team this morning and we’ve been in contact and he’s going to be us coaching next week on deck,” said senior associate head coach Harvey Humphries, who coached in Bauerle’s stead. “If anything, being able to do something for Jack in his absence got the kids a little motivated just because they are pretty tired right now and any little extra made them reach down and get something they didn’t think they had so they could win races we needed to win today.”
Humphries said both the men and women had good reason to be tired.
Both teams have been going through a rigorous winter training regimen before the final stretch of their regular-season schedule. That regimen included maxing out in the weight room this week.
“I’m really tired,” junior Amber McDermott said with a laugh. “I couldn’t straighten my arms, so that’s what I was thinking before I swam: ‘Please let me straighten my arms when I swim.’”
McDermott finished first in three events: 200 backstroke (2 minutes, 1.13 seconds), 1,000 freestyle (9:58.68) and 400 individual medley (4:21.47). The junior said meets like Saturday’s are “vital” at this point in the season.
“If you can swim this tired then the possibilities are endless when you’re rested,” she said.
Humphries said the team knew NC State would bring its best with a chance to knock off ranked teams, adding that Georgia’s distance swimmers provided a big points boost for the Bulldogs. Matias Koski took first in the 500 freestyle (4:29.75) and Garrett Powell finished first in the 1,000 freestyle (9:15.64).
“We knew we were going to have a target on our back and we were going to have to make sure we defended our turf,” he said.
The standout performance for the men came from Ty Stewart, who won the 200 butterfly (1:47.31) and the 400 IM (3:55.59). He also finished second in the 200 breaststroke (2:02.12).
“Ty was huge,” senior Andrew Gemmell said. “… Those wins probably made the difference between a win and loss. That’s a huge good job by him to pull through.”
Junior Nic Fink swept the breaststroke events (100 and 200) to help the Bulldogs in their narrow win.
“The whole team swam pretty well,” Fink said “(Ty) and everyone else has been pretty broken down this week, Christmas training and everything. And to come out and have big swims like that really meant a lot for our win today. I think overall it was a pretty spectacular performance.”
Other Georgia winners:
Annie Zhu (100 breaststroke, 1:03.23; 200 breaststroke, 2:16.33); Brittany MacLean (200 freestyle, 1:49.21); Rachel Zilinskas (500 freestyle, 4:50.80); Melanie Margalis (100 butterfly, 55.39); Laura Ryan (1-meter springboard, 315.30 points); Ann-Perry Blank (3-meter, 327.05 points); Taylor Dale (100 backstroke, 48.80); Spencer Madanay (3-meter springboard, 298.60 points); Olivia Smoliga, Margalis, Lauren Harrington and Chantal Van Landeghem (200 relay 1:41.46).