Georgia women's swim team wins NCAA title

semerson@macon.comMarch 23, 2013 

The University of Georgia has ended a relatively short national championship drought.

The Georgia women's swimming team captured the NCAA championship on Saturday night, bringing the school its first national title since 2009, when the gymnastics team won it all.

It's also the first since Greg McGarity became athletics director before the 2010-11 school year. McGarity celebrated by jumping in the pool with the Bulldogs on Saturday.

It's the 39th national title for Georgia in all sports. The most have come in gymnastics (10), followed by men's tennis (eight), and five each for swimming and diving, women's tennis and equestrian.

This is the fifth NCAA title for the Georgia women's swim team, and their first since 2005.

Georgia finished in first by 84 points, ahead of second-place California, which had been the two-time defending national champs - with Georgia in second place each year.

It was somewhat predictable that Georgia would have a strong women's squad: Senior Allison Schmitt, who returned to the team this season after a one-year hiatus, won three gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, in addition to a silver and a bronze. Teammate Shannon Vreeland also won a gold in London. Schmitt and Vreeland were part of UGA's 400-freestyle relay team that won on Saturday, setting an NCAA record in the process.

"It's almost impossible to describe how incredible this feels," Schmitt said, according to a UGA release. "We all love being a part of a team, and winning a team title means so much more than any individual title ever could. I am blessed to be a member of this team. This is a night that I will never, ever forget."

Head coach Jack Bauerle has now won national titles in three separate decades.

"I am just so proud of this group of young ladies," Bauerle said. "They were determined to reach this goal from the first day of workouts and they never deviated from the plan. A team that works that hard and has that kind of discipline deserves success. This team is made up of a bunch of fighters, and they never flinched and they never backed down.

"I want our ladies to enjoy every moment of this. This is something that few student-athletes get to enjoy. This is as special as it gets. As long as I coach, I'll always want this for my squads because I know how good it feels and how it impacts the rest of their lives. This is something that can never be taken away. It's a pretty neat legacy."

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