As we attempt to cover other sports besides basketball, baseball, and, of course, football, Tech’s first home swim meet since November, and last for the year was an obvious place to start, especially with it conveniently on a Saturday morning on the Flats. Since it was also their last meet, it was also Senior Day for the upcoming graduates.
Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center, the premier pool in the Southeast, is in high-demand for swim meets year round. Thus, for the Yellow Jackets, some years, they don’t get as many opportunities to swim in their home pool. However, on Senior Day, the Jackets did not disappoint, thoroughly demolishing reigning Division III Champion Emory, a grand way to send out their nine member senior class.
Tech swimming, with the demands of school, sometimes falls victim to the rigors of the Tech class schedule. So, congratulations from all of us here at From the Rumble Seat to the swimmers who not only made it through four years of academic rigor, but long hours in the pool as well.
To start off the meet for the Jackets, Tech’s women’s 200 Medley Relay, consisting entirely of seniors, a theme throughout the meet, took first place, followed closely by their B (second fastest) relay. On the men’s side, the Tech senior relay again took first place, followed closely by a quartet of promising young freshmen.
In the 1650 Freestyle, sophomore Emily Ilgenftriz took first place, as per usual, with a time of 17:18.27. Camille Long, a freshman, Linda Wallace, and Tamir Gonen, both sophomores, followed closely behind her. Meanwhile, in the men’s mile, sophomores Koski and Brennan Day finished first and second. It may have been Senior Day, but Tech’s distance swimmers have a lot of eligibility, and promise, remaining.
In the 200 Freestyle, the hardest event to swim, being neither a sprint nor long distance, was taken by senior Kaitlin Kitchens with teammate and Tech record holder Iris Wang taking the day off from one of her main events. The men clearly have the 200 Free figured out, having swept the podium spots, led by junior Rodrigo Correia, who actually does hold the Tech record in the event. He was three seconds off of his time, but well within the margin for a potential invitation to the NCAA Championship.
A pair of freshmen won the sprint 50 Freestyle as well. Wang, also the 50 Free record holder, sat out another one of her trademark events, while Corben Miles went a quick 20.32 for the men.
Unusually, the 100 Individual Medley was also a part of this meet. The 100 IM, considered a “country club” event, typically dismissed as silly and unproductive, is this author’s favorite event. It’s pure sprint, but requires mastery of all four strokes. Though not as back-and-forth as the most tense event in swimming, the 400 IM, the sprint nature of the 100 provides an exciting race the whole way. Both the men and the women swept the podium in this event, with Wang finally making an appearance in the pool. Senior Kira de Bruyn followed her closely into the wall. Caio Pumputis, freshman phenom, finished with an astounding 48.86, which is quite fast. Unsurprisingly, he is normally a 200 IM swimmer.
De Bruyn also finished second in the next event, the 100 Butterfly, right behind Laura Branton’s 56.51. Franco Reyes, three time Illinois state champion, won the event with a time of 48.36, .07 seconds off his time from last year, but not too close to his best time in the event.
Wang won the women’s 100 Freestyle with a time a hair off the NCAA B-cut. Tech men and women both swept the podium again, placing first, second, and third. Junior Rodrgio Correia took the event for the men, followed closely by a swarm of underclassmen.
Tech again swept the women’s side in the 100 Backstroke, led by sophomore Carrie Lee. However, Emory got their only win of the day in the men’s 100 Back, where sophomore Sage Ono, already a two-time national champion, narrowly edged Brad Oberg, Joonas Koski, Colt Williamson, and Leon Warnakulasuriya.
Celine Nugent took the 500 Freestyle with a pedestrian 5:03.87, while senior Mechanical Engineering major Moises Loschi notched a win with a 4:34.31, part of a 1-2-3-4 Tech finish in the event. He turned right around to reach the wall first in the 100 Breaststroke as well, with a solid B-cut time of 54.53. Florina Ilie took the 100 Breast for the ladies, however, none of the points counted for Tech, as they swum the last two events exhibition, so as to not run up the score on the visiting Eagles. Since they were swimming for the time and not the points, in each of the 200 Freestyle Relays, Tech arrived at the wall first, but Emory got the points. Most notably, Reyes split a 20.10 in his leg of the relay, a very promising sign from the freshman. Tech’s women won the meet 150-82 and the men won by a margin of 162-56 in the sweep.
Saturday’s meet, against the crosstown Emory University Eagles, is a curious addition to the Georgia Tech schedule. Swimming has much looser scheduling, especially in conference, than most other sports. In fact, the only two conference teams Tech faced this season were Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. This year, Tech swam against Division II Delta State and NAIA Savannah College of Art and Design, while gone from last year are the likes of Florida State, Alabama, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Boston College. Who knows whether this decline in scheduling will be permanent, but the best way to turn gains in practice into returns in the pool is to field competitive meets against high quality competition. While facing the reigning Division III Champion Emory Eagles makes a great storyline about a crosstown showdown, Tech annihilated them in the pool today. That said, an annual “rivalry” to dominate would be a good reset for swimmers going into championship season and positive for interest in both teams locally. Hopefully next year, Tech gets more teams to the gorgeous McAuley Aquatic Center, like last year, and puts up the kind of competitive swims from their young talent, like this year.
As a writer still at the Institute full-time, and with a soft spot for the “other” sports, are there any teams or upcoming games you would particularly like to see From the Rumble Seat cover? Let me know what you want to see and I will do my best to get to it live and in person here on the Flats in the next few months. And as for swimming, what says you about Tech swim and dive, if anything?