ATHENS, Ga. – In search of the 13th league title in school history, the University of Georgia women’s swimming and diving team hosts the 2021 Southeastern Conference Women’s Swimming Championships this week at Gabrielsen Natatorium.
The event opens Wednesday, Feb. 17 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 20. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures involving the student-athletes, there will be no spectators allowed inside Gabrielsen Natatorium. Each session of the meet will be streamed live on SEC Network+, along with live updates on GeorgiaDogs.com and to paid subscribers on the MeetMobile app. All streaming links are available on Georgia’s SEC Championship Central page.
As a result of the pandemic, the SEC Championships are being split into three different events this year, beginning with the women’s swimming championships this week in Athens. Concurrently, the SEC Men’s and Women’s Diving Championships will be held on the same days at the Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Missouri. The SEC Men’s Swimming Championships will round out the event next Tuesday through Friday in Columbia.
This is the first time the championships have been held in two locations since 1986, when the men’s meet was held at LSU and the women’s meet occurred at Tennessee. This is also the sixth time the SEC Championships have been held at Gabrielsen Natatorium (1997, 2004, 2010, 2014, 2019).
No. 6 Georgia enters this week’s championships as one of the favored teams in a loaded field that includes nine Top-25 programs, including four in the top six, led by No. 3 Kentucky. The Bulldogs boast the top seed in four individual events: senior Courtney Harnish in the 500 freestyle, junior Dakota Luther in the 200 butterfly, and sophomore Zoie Hartman in the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. All three swimmers won gold medals at last year’s SEC meet in Auburn and will look to repeat this season. Harnish, in particular, has won a conference title in each of her three seasons, including two straight in the 500 free.
The Georgia women carry depth in the freestyle events as always, with senior Gabi Fa’amausili and freshman Maxine Parker leading the sprints, while senior Olivia Anderson, junior Maddie Homovich, and sophomore Jillian Barczyk join Harnish to power the middle distance and mile. In the breaststroke events and 200 IM, senior Danielle Della Torre provides a strong 1-2 punch with Hartman, while senior Sammie Burchill and juniors Callie Dickinson and Portia Brown will provide scores in multiple events, including the IM.
Georgia will also be a factor in the five relay events, entering the meet with the top seed in the 800 freestyle and 400 medley, along with top-three times in the other three events. At last season’s championships, the 400 freestyle relay team, which included Hartman, Fa’amausili, and Harnish, closed the meet with a silver medal time that ranked seventh in program history.
Meanwhile, in Columbia, the Bulldogs’ combined diving team will also be a factor in the conference race, led by senior Zach Allen, who ranks third in the SEC on the 1-meter and ninth on the 3-meter. Allen earned five dual wins on the 1-meter, setting a new personal-best mark in his last outing at Tennessee.
On the women’s side, freshman Meghan Wenzel has been terrific in her rookie campaign with two wins, while junior Tally Brown returns to her former school after an impressive start to her Georgia career, sweeping both springboard events against South Carolina. Finally, junior Ellie Crump brings valuable SEC experience after placing 17th on the 1-meter and 20th on the 3-meter last season at Auburn.
All times ET
Events in Columbia, Missouri italicized
Wednesday, Feb. 17
5 p.m. – Swimming Finals (200 Medley Relay, 800 Freestyle Relay)
5 p.m. – Diving Prelims/Finals (Women’s 1-meter)
Thursday, Feb. 18
10 a.m. – Swimming Prelims (500 Freestyle, 200 IM, 50 Freestyle)
12 p.m. – Diving Prelims (Women’s 3-meter, Men’s 1-meter)
6 p.m. – Swimming Finals (500 Freestyle, 200 IM, 50 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle Relay)
7 p.m. – Diving Finals (Women’s 3-meter, Men’s 1-meter)
Friday, Feb. 19
10 a.m. – Swimming Prelims (400 IM, 100 Butterfly, 200 Freestyle, 100 Breaststroke, 100 Backstroke)
12 p.m. – Diving Prelims (Women’s Platform, Men’s 3-meter)
6 p.m. – Swimming Finals (400 IM, 100 Butterfly, 200 Freestyle, 100 Breaststroke, 100 Backstroke, 400 Medley Relay)
7 p.m. – Diving Finals (Women’s Platform, Men’s 3-meter)
Saturday, Feb. 20
10 a.m. – Swimming Prelims (200 Backstroke, 100 Freestyle, 200 Breaststroke, 200 Butterfly)
12 p.m. – Diving Prelims/Finals (Men’s Platform)
3:15 p.m. – Swimming Finals (1,650 Freestyle)
6 p.m. – Swimming Finals (1,650 Freestyle, 200 Backstroke, 100 Freestyle, 200 Breaststroke, 200 Butterfly, 400 Freestyle Relay)