Auburn wins dual meet over Georgia Tech
Contributed by Gregory Ostendorf/AU Athletics with contributions by Wil Crews
The Southeastern Conference has established a new format for the 2021 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships, the league announced Wednesday.
The championships will now feature three separate events.
• Men’s and Women’s Diving: Feb. 17-20 at the Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Missouri.
• Women’s Swimming: Feb. 17-20 at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Georgia.
• Men’s Swimming: Feb. 23-26 at the Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Missouri.
The SEC regular season will conclude no later than Jan. 25 with regionalized competition permitted upon the adherence of opponents to SEC Medical Guidance Task Force Requirements for COVID-19 Management. Contests are limited to a dual-meet format unless alternative strategies are identified to limit the overall number of participants to ensure appropriate distancing. The number of events is at the discretion of each institution.
Auburn is scheduled to take part in four dual meets in January, which began Friday with a trip to Georgia Tech. The Tigers earned victories for both the women’s and men’s teams. It was the second straight year the Tigers have swept Georgia Tech on the road.
The women, who rank No. 19 nationally, won the 200 medley relay to open the meet and cruised to a 178-81 victory over Tech.
Senior Carly Cummings earned a victory in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. Junior Emily Hetzer was also a double-event winner with first place marks in both the 200 and 500 freestyle events.
While the upperclassmen shone, two freshmen Tigers would not be outdone. Meghan Lee swept the backstroke events, and Emma Steckiel earned victories in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
“On paper, our women were the better team and they lived up to that expectation,” said Auburn S&D coach Gary Taylor. “I thought they brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm and really dominated the meet from start to finish.”
On the men’s side, the No. 22 ranked Tigers showcased their depth more than individual talent. Despite not winning as many single-swimmer awards, the Tigers earned a 145-117 victory over No. 17 Georgia Tech.
Auburn earned two 1-2-3 finishes, meaning only Tigers medaled. Nick Eberly, Matthew Yish and Logan Tirheimer took the top three spots in the 50 freestyle, and Lleyton Smith, Aidan Stoffle and Elliot Jones swept the 200 backstroke. Michael Bonson won the individual 500 freestyle and the 1,000 freestyle.
“I’m really proud of our men,” Taylor said. “In a lot of events where Georgia Tech won, we went 2-3-4. And when we got our wins, we really took advantage and had some 1-2-3 finishes to separate ourselves.”
The Tigers will next travel to Alabama on Jan. 15, where the divers are expected to make their season debut. Auburn will then host dual meets against Florida State on Jan. 20 and Florida on Jan. 23.
The SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force continues to meet on policies and procedures for the safe return of student-athletes to competition, building on the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines.
The NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships is scheduled for March 17-20 and will be followed by the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships on March 24-27. Both meets will be held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.