Jan. 23, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 10th-ranked Tennessee women's swimming and diving team welcomes No. 1 Georgia to the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center for the final regular season home meet of the season at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
"This group took it upon themselves to use their careers to change a program," Lady Vols head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. "They have been on the leading edge of a new identity in women's swimming and diving, and have made a profound impact at every level. There are a couple of multiple-time All-Americans that have contributed on the biggest stage, but the best work they've done has been in making striving for the extraordinary a daily pursuit."
Mathes, from Kettering, Ohio, has the team's best performance in the 200y free (1:49.47) this season. She is a 10-time All-American and is part of four school-record relays. She and Nauta were both on the SEC Champion 200y free relay (1:29.07) last season.
Nauta, of Tampa, Fla., is a four-time All-America and ranks, along with Gehring and Mathes, as one of the Lady Vols' top freestylers this season.
Gehring is one of UT's top freestyle sprinters. The Punta Gora, Fla., native swam a career-best while winning the 50y free (23.33) against Kentucky in November.
Jugan is one of the team's top backstrokers, while Quinn excels in the freestyle and McCall swims a variety of events. All three are from Knoxville.
The Lady Vols improved to 8-0 on the season after defeating No. 13 Indiana, No. 22 Michigan and Illinois in Bloomington, Ind. on Jan. 9-10.
UT swept all five relays, while junior Michelle King and sophomore Aleksa Akerfelds each won two individual events in the quad-meet with the Big Ten opponents. Freshman Jennifer Connolly, junior Jamie Saffer and Mathes also scored individual event victories.
The Bulldogs (6-0), ranked as the top team in the land by the College Swim Coaches Association of America, will probably provide a much stiffer test for the Lady Vols than the Hoosiers, Wolverines and Illini did.
Georgia owns one of the top two times in the Southeastern Conference in every individual swimming event, and has the conference's top mark in all five relays. UT hasn't defeated UGA since 1989.
The Bulldogs defeated No. 3 Texas 159-141 in their last meet on Jan. 10. One of Georgia's top swimmers is sophomore Chelsea Nauta, a returning All-American and the younger sister of UT's Brittany Nauta.
UGA freshman Wendy Trott has the SEC's top time in the 500y, 1000y and 1,650y free style events, while senior Mhyria Miller leads the conference in the 100y and 200y breast.
"Georgia gives us our biggest challenge of the year and we have to do everything well to be successful," Kredich said. "The SEC is the strongest conference in the country, and this is precisely the reason why we practice the way we do. We have very high standards of execution, attitude and competitiveness in practice so we don't look at a meet like this as being different from what we do every day."
Georgia returns sophomore All-American Hannah Moore on the boards, but the Lady Vols have an outstanding contingent of divers of their own.
Each of the UT divers has qualified for the NCAA Zone meet in at least one event already this season. For McCartney, this will be her final home dual meet. The Knoxville native got her Zone cuts at the Allan Jones Invitational in her home pool back in November. Her performance of 291.70 this season on the 3-meter is second-best on the team and just off her career-best.
"I am excited to go head to head versus Georgia's outstanding squad of divers led by Hannah Moore," UT diving coach Dave Parrington said. "I expect our divers to meet the challenge as they rally behind senior Staley McCartney in her final dual meet for the Lady Vols. There will be some pressure on our part to get the job done in support of our swimming teammates if we are able to have a chance of challenging the incredibly tough Georgia team."
The Lady Vols take on Florida in Gainesville next weekend and then take a few weeks off before the SEC Championships in Auburn, Ala., from Feb. 18-21.