After the conclusion of four days of competition at the Indiana University Natatorium on Saturday, the Georgia women’s swimming & diving team finished in fourth place overall at the 2017 NCAA Championships.
The Lady Bulldogs now have finished in the top five for nine straight years, including national titles in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Georgia rolled up 252.5 points during the four-day competition. Stanford earned team honors with 526.5 points, followed by California with 366 and Texas A&M with 292.5. Georgia edged Texas for the final team spot on the podium by half a point.
“Our young ladies refused to quit, they refused to stop fighting,” said Coach Jack Bauerle, who led Georgia to its first-ever fourth-place finish. “We’ve had firsts, seconds and thirds at this meet, and I’ve got to tell you that this feels pretty satisfying. We talk about every point counting; how about every half point? That’s just incredible. Meets like this never go perfectly, but if you respond in the right way, you can overcome obstacles. Our four seniors at this meet — Olivia Smoliga, Chantal Van Landeghem, Emily Cameron and Rachel Zilinksas — were tremendous leaders all week. You’re only as good as your senior leadership.”
Smoliga earned silver in the 100 freestyle as she reached the wall in 46.30, eclipsed only by Stanford’s Simone Manuel, who recorded an American record time of 45.56. Smoliga shattered her own school record of 46.70 set at the 2016 NCAAs. Van Landeghem tied for sixth (for the critical half point) in 47.54.
Smoliga ended her final NCAAs with runner-up efforts in the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. She capped her career with school records in those events as well as on the 200 and 400 freestyle and 200 and 400 medley relays.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to swim for this program,” Smoliga said. “I’ve had so many doors opened to me by being in Athens. I made sure I soaked in every moment this week because it was my last chance to be on this team with these girls. I’ll never forget these last four years.”
The 400 freestyle relay of Smoliga, Veronica Burchill, Meaghan Raab and Van Landeghem finished second in 3:08.97. That shattered the school record of 3:09.40 set in 2013.
Chelsea Britt won the 200 butterfly consolation in 1:54.11 to place ninth. Megan Kingsley placed 12th with a time of 1:54.76.
In the 200 backstroke, Kylie Stewart placed 12th with a time of 1:51.71.
A highlights show of the NCAAs will air on March 28 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
CLICK HERE for the final results from the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.
The NCAA Championships for the Georgia men’s swimming and diving team will begin on Wednesday, also at the Indiana University Natatorium.