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Yellow Jacket Roundup: Sunshine State of Mind

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I’m self-declaring this column more reputable than SwimSwam, since they haven’t combined to write these many words on Tech swimming in the last, like, three years.

Tech practices at dusk on Thursday night.
Danny Karnik (via Instagram) / Georgia Tech Athletics

There’s a certain nice aspect of only having, like, one sport a week, but also it makes for an interesting balance between compensating for a light week and trying to spice up things for, say, people tuning in this week who aren’t swimming fans.


ATLANTA, GEORGIA — As I sit here writing this on a Saturday night instead of Sunday (shocker - but I have a tee time at Candler tomorrow afternoon) I have one key thought on my mind, which is will Florida provide a much-anticipated sequel to their nifty little Missouri brawl this week in Jacksonville? These teams don’t like each other all that much, and the boys from Athens have 17 minutes to score 20 points. Time will tell.

Oh wait, I just saw Kirby has a third string on his mask to keep it on his face. That’s funny. Must be out of that vaunted engineering school that’s half my age.

Ah, rats, they got 7 back. Maybe I should turn this off and think about swimming instead.

Update: the Gators won.

Last Week on the Flats

Last Week’s Results
Data via RamblinWreck.com, Compiled by Jake Grant

Swimming and Diving

Georgia Tech headed to Tallahassee this weekend to face off with the Florida State Seminoles, one of their most frequent opponents. Before this weekend, since 2002-03, when the women’s team was founded - it’s Tech’s newest varsity sport - they had faced off in a dual, tri, or quad meet sixteen times in eighteen seasons. The women had beaten Florida State in just one of those head-to-head matchups, when they squeaked out a win in 2014. Florida State is a good team, and, historically, Georgia Tech has been just okay on the women’s side. This weekend, though, they changed that.

I’ll admit, I thought I had heard this story all before, when I saw that Tech split the dual meet. I presumed, incorrectly, that the men knocked off a very solid Seminoles team and the women came up short. But, alas, I was wrong. Of course, I would love to have see the men take a win, and we definitely have some good news from them to talk about in a bit, but to see the women get a win against a well-regarded conference foe is a bit of great news for them to start their season with. So we’ll take it. And it’s time to look at how it happened, but before we talk times, let’s talk about this week’s venue.

I’ll admit, my coronavirus senses are always apprehensive to hear that we have a team going to Tallahassee. I don’t trust that place, in general, having been there a handful of times for club swim meets and seeing the general, well, attitude of the town. But neither football now cross country came back with issues as far as we know, and let me just say, the swimming facility is a gorgeous place to have a meet. They have an indoor facility with stands and plenty of room, but, for whatever reason, it seems that they rarely use it for the varsity team. The weather - high 70s and low 80s - for practice on Thursday and the meet on Friday was ideal for their outdoor pool, and, though they don’t have a scoreboard with the video capability we do, nor they have much of a spectator section, which is less of an issue in the current situation, the competition pool and warm-up pool are sleek, the diving well is very convenient to the team stands. It’s a great place to race on a mild, sunny day. That’s exactly what they got.

I have to give Danny Karnik a shoutout - I think I must have tagged along with the team to Florida, because he has been posting some awesome photos from this weekend, including the cover for this article.

I think the results from this meet are a sign that Tech is seeing some success in recruiting and developing their young talent, particularly on the women’s side. Meanwhile, the men saw fantastic swims from veteran, senior leaders like Caio Pumputis and Christian Ferraro, as expected. In fact, to verify my hunch, I put this table together. It displays, by event, the top three finisher for Tech and the class of each swimmer involved in the swim. I could build it out to a full statistical analysis on the results - perhaps later - but I don’t have a good idea how to do that yet. But, without further stalling:

Georgia Tech @ Florida State dual meet results 2020.
Jake Grant

As you can see, the men do skew to the seniors and sophomores, while the women skew towards the juniors and particularly the freshmen. An important caveat is to note that this is rudimentary and doesn’t consider times or context from the sport at large, but it’s useful for our purposes. The other thing of note was just how much of Tech’s scoring came from winning events. Florida State had particularly good depth across the board, and the Jackets, well, didn’t. So how’d we get here? I want to shout out a couple performances in particular.

Duda Seifer, a sophomore transfer from Miami, won both the 500 and 1000 freestyle in her first meet for Tech. Though the 1000 isn’t an NCAA event, the 500 is, and with a decent taper, she should at least be able to knock a B cut for the event, based on her time this weekend. For those not well-versed in the world of swimming and championship meet qualifying, teams don’t qualify, individuals and relays do. An A cut, roughly equivalent to the top few swimmers in an event, yields automatic entry to the NCAA meet, while a B cut earns a swimmer “consideration.” When all of the swimmers who earn A cuts have been accounted for in any event in which they have any cuts, the meet assigns the next fastest swimmer in one event, and they are approved for every event in which they have a cut. This happens for each event, in turn, until the meet’s limit of swimmers is met. Yes, this is confusing. If you have questions, please ask in the comments, and I will elaborate, otherwise, it is time to move on here.

For all the talk of hypothetical cuts, though, Tech did have two athletes manage to lock down two consideration cuts in the opening event. However, it was the least surprising pair one could have picked, as Caio Pumputis and Christian Ferraro notched them in their best events, the 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly, respectively. Both Pumputis and Ferraro won three events apiece for Tech, as the former took the 200 freestyle and the 200 IM, while the latter touched the wall first in the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly, in addition to their B cut races.

The two gentlemen tried their darnedest to edge Tech back into the overall winning category, as they also won the meet finale, the 400 freestyle relay, alongside Darren Lim and Grant Allison, but the men ultimately came up just short, losing by a five point spread. Allison definitely deserves a shoutout in addition to his performance on the relay, as he was Tech’s only scorer in the 50 freestyle, and came in third behind Ferraro in the 100 freestyle. For whatever reason, Florida State has always held serve in the sprint freestyle events, so it was good to see a freshman staking out a spot for himself in the top finishers for those events. Say what you will about team composition, because every team builds its roster differently, but Tech has never had a “thing” that was like, “oh, Georgia Tech is a sprint team.” Rather, from Wang to Correia to Ferraro to Ilgenfritz to Hidalgo to Pumputis, the last few years of Tech swimming have seen the best highlights come from anywhere, be it distance freestyle, diving, breaststroke, backstroke, sprint freestyle, individual medley, butterfly, or backstroke. Really, that’s everything except relays. The last frontier is seeing if Tech can put together good swims, with depth, and stack points where they matter most - the relays.

Anyways, back to results.

Another freshman, Claudia Butterfield, did a fantastic job for the women’s team in the breaststroke events, finishing in the top three in both events. Another freshman, Rei Kuramoto, also swam well for the Jackets, winning her first-ever collegiate swim, the 200 freestyle, as well as the 100 butterfly.

Josh Cohen and Dylan Scott took care of business in the 500 freestyle - they’re both sophomores - and it was good to see the two of them finish one-two, and provide a scoring threat outside of the team’s two stars, Pumputis and Ferraro.

It was also great to see diving success in both the 1m and 3m competition, and to see the men and women dominated by their underclassmen. They combined for two wins, three second place finishes, and two third place finishes. All except one (men’s second place in the 3m) came from a freshman or a sophomore.

This team seems to have more building blocks than it has in a while, particularly on the women’s side. Their win is a nice statement to start the year against a good team. I’m not worried about the men, though, despite the loss. Doubling off the 400 freestyle relay was good to see, and there were some pleasant surprises from them in the results, too, and their usual suspects did excellently.

Since Tech won the composite men and women’s scores, I think it’s fair to call it a good team win, even if that’s not necessarily how the results get recorded.

Maybe I’m writing too much into this weekend. Maybe I’m not. It’s far more fun to enjoy Tech see some success, particularly from a team we don’t get to hear as much from, as the men and their nice run of late - consistent top 25 rankings, a 24th place finish at NCAAs in 2019 - takes up what little oxygen there is in coverage of this sport. That’s a shame. Maybe I’m biased - I’ve been a big supporter of this team for years now, and have been in the sport for the better part of two decades - but they deserve more love than they get. Hopefully they get some after a great start to the season.

Another random note: Peachtree Timing did the scoring according to Tech’s results posted here, which, as the name implies is our provider back here at McAuley, which seems weird that they’d be doing a meet in Tallahassee. I presume that the FSU varsity team has to be running their own meet (something one can’t say about their club team, I can speak from experience) so maybe it has something to do with how Tech can provide online scores at RamblinWreck.com, or something, and I noticed a whole bunch of nothing. Go figure.

The Hot Corner

Baseball! They had their White and Gold World Series the week before last and things seem to be going well at the Rusty C. I always struggle to write about intra-team play, regardless of sport, but particularly in sports like baseball and football. In, say, swimming, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “oh they swam fast,” but in the spring football game, that defense giving up that touchdown to the third string QB is your defense. In the W&G WS, that pitcher giving up that monster home run is your pitcher. That batter that struck out four times, well, he’s yours, too.

But I think we can draw an interesting line here for Tech baseball. The pitching did reasonably well, and the batters did, too. The incoming guys have talent, and we have a lot coming back from an already stacked team. I’m not sure why I’ve been ruminating on the 2019 Louisville series so much lately - that should have been a sweep, poor Connor Thomas - but I have, and I’m not sure where this ties in other than Zeke Pinkham is our new volunteer assistant, we could have won all three games if it weren’t for a few swings or pitches breaking differently, and that, right now, none of it really mattered. What the final team will look like is as incomplete as the stadium, and until the bricks are laid and the glass has been installed, it doesn’t really matter. So we can talk about so-and-so going deep - yay! But also! Oh no! - or someone else throwing heat and confounding batters, but all we do on that is talk circles. So, yes, this section is a bit of a cop-out today. But it’s the best I can do to balance what we saw. Because, like always, intrasquads leave me confounded.

In actual news, construction is moving along well, too, so that’s a positive sign. The steel superstructure appears about done, and I get ever-antsier to be back in the stadium in February, when it is all supposed to be done. The loss of the 2020 baseball season is perhaps the biggest shame of COVID. But, when we all get to walk through the gates of Russ Chandler Stadium one more time - and I hope we all do soon - the place will look different, even if the product on the field is the same as it was in 2019. I think it can be. And that, friends, is something to put hopes and dreams on.

In the Club House

WE ACTUALLY HAVE A CLUB SPORT RESULT. Somehow, some way, in the time of COVID, a club sport had an event. The Georgia Tech Swim Club, who I presume are still the reigning College Club Swimming national champions since their nationals were cancelled last year due to COVID, was back in action Saturday at McAuley as they hosted a virtual invitational, in which several teams from around the country competed in their own home pools and submitted results to the main desk in Atlanta for any event. To make the event more interesting, Tech divided its team in two for some competitive spirit on deck. Speaking to the meet’s director, Lauren Eldridge, “Everyone did a great job following COVID protocol as well as making sure everyone had a timer. I was a little worried with [them having to time themselves], but that was a non-issue because everyone really stepped up.” There weren’t results posted yet from other teams, due to the meet’s cross-timezone, two day setup, but, from the Tech pool, the report was that people were swimming quickly. With non non-revenue sports to speak of next week, perhaps we will dive into those results and see if there are any other club sports that we can chat with on what their fall has looked like. Or I can just build out proprietary varsity-level swimming analytics and corner that market. Or not put off grad school project work. The possibilities are endless!

Around Campus

We talked last week about Portman and his sculpture, and there was an interesting comment at the end of the article asking if the new addition had an atrium. What I can say is it’s very airy - all my pictures of it turned out terribly, so you’ll have to take my word for it - and there’s at least two sides at the bottom. If it’s possible for a sculpture to have an atrium, I think we could say this does. For those that don’t know, Portman was, to paraphrase a composite source of the first three links of Google, ‘an American “neofuturistic” architect who became famous for popularizing buildings - particularly hotels - with multi-storied interior atrium features.’ While these were seen as revolutionary in their day, then for a while as counterproductive to developing a streetscape and fitting in with neighborhoods, Portman was probably the right architect for his era, and I think the midcentury soaring atria fits up there with older, more stately designs - the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago and the Pere Marquette in Peoria come to mind for this biased Illinoisan - in terms of definitely what Americans envision when they think about hotels. That, and a three story generic looking building on the side of the interstate, with a front desk, sitting room for guests to eat a continental breakfast, and an enclosed all-too-hot swimming pool that’s four feet deep and not much wider.

Best of the Week:

  1. Pastner Be ‘Crooting, Lands 2nd Highly-Regarded Prospect in As Many Weeks
  2. Akshay Eye for the Uniform Guy - Midseason Review
  3. Tech and Voting - 2020’s Most Iconic Duo

This Week on the Flats:

This Week’s Schedule
Data via RamblinWreck.com, Compiled by Jake Grant

Quick Hitters

There are no non-football sports in action this week, so it looks like football on Saturday is your only Tech-related outlet. If that doesn’t work for you, might I recommend, uh, marble racing?

Poll of the Week

Poll

Can a sculpture have an atrium?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Yes
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    No
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    What are you talking about? I skipped your blurb about Portman.
    (1 vote)
  • 40%
    What are you talking about? I skipped the whole thing.
    (4 votes)
10 votes total Vote Now