Poolside, Strictly On The Coolside

Nov. 2, 2010

by Jon Cooper

Sting Daily

There aren’t a lot of athletic events where Georgia Tech, Georgia and Emory will be found competing at the same time in the same arena.

Wednesday night’s swim meet at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center is one such event. The meet begins at 5:00 p.m.

There’s plenty at stake for the Yellow Jackets, who are coming off a split in their 2010-11 opener against Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky. The meet should have the expected high-intensity atmosphere of any Georgia Tech-Georgia match-up and will be ratcheted up with the presence of Emory, which will be looking to make a splash against a pair of D-I schools.

Georgia Tech Head Men’s and Women’s Swimming Head Coach Courtney Shealy Hart knows the danger of paying too much attention to Georgia and not enough to the Emory, which has won three D-III titles in six years, and stated assuredly that her teams will be focused on both opponents.

“We are looking forward to competing against two top programs,” she said “Georgia is a top program in Division I and Emory is National Champ for Division III. Both, obviously are very successful and we’re looking forward to racing them.”

The Jackets feature superb sprinters in senior Nigel Plummer (sprint free) and junior Garrett Robberson (sprint free/back), and versatile sophomore Eric Chiu (fly/back/breast/free), while junior Sarah Broadley (middle distance freestyle) and super-soph Taylor Sostarecz (distance/individual medley) lead the women.

“We have a big senior class but we also have a big freshman class. I think that there’s a great mixture of young and old,” said Hart. “I’m looking forward to seeing where the competition is.”

Tech has dominated Emory, with the men holding an all-time 82-4 record, while the women are 9-0. Last season, both the men and women took the measure of the Eagles, with the men winning, 174-122, and the women taking a 169-123 decision.

“I’m sure that they’re looking forward to racing us,” said Hart. “I don’t think they get the opportunity to race too many Division I programs and I’m sure they always get excited to race good competition. So we won’t be overlooking them. That’s for sure.”

Tech has not fared as well against the Bulldogs, the defending SEC Champions and last season’s final No. 5 team. They last met UGA during the 2007-08 season, when the Bulldogs swept the Jackets, with the men winning, 134-104, and the women winning, 139-94. The Yellow Jackets trail the all-time series, 58-25, while the Tech women are seeking their first victory against the Lady Bulldogs, who have won the five previous matches.

Adding a unique angle is that Hart attended the University of Georgia, leading the swim team to National Championships in 1999 and 2000, the latter year winning National Swimmer of the Year after winning the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke titles in addition to participating in championship-winning 400-free and 400-medley relays.

“Georgia Tech did not have a women’s program when I decided where I wanted to go to school,” she pointed out (Tech’s women’s program didn’t begin until 2001). “I helped take Georgia to the next level as a swimmer and I am currently helping take Georgia Tech to the next level as a coach. So for me, it’s just an exciting opportunity and it’s a chance for us to race.

“I definitely don’t think there are any hard feelings,” she added of coaching against her alma mater. “It will be great competition and at the end of the day we do the best we can and we go back to being friends. [Georgia Head Coach Jack Bauerle] was a huge mentor for me as an athlete and he’s a mentor for me as a coach. I’m a huge competitor so I will be fighting and competing for every point and every place we can get. [Bauerle] helped take me to where I am as an athlete and so I hope to be as good of a coach as he is one day.”

At the same time, she’s hoping to show off her coaching wares and her program to potential recruits.

“We’re definitely going after some of the same people in the state of Georgia and so, it will be big for us either way,” she said.

That’s where not only a good showing by her team but a spirited turnout by the fans is important.

“A good turnout is huge for us,” she said. “The athletes absolutely love to see that. I know our athletes go and support all the other support all the other sports within the athletic department here at Georgia Tech. So we’d love to have some current student-athletes come out as well as regular student-body members and anybody who wants to see a good rivalry meet happen.”

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