#TGW: Feeling Good

April 12, 2017

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

Freshly returned from Florida, which for Courtney Shealy Hart was equal parts family spring break and a recruiting trip, Georgia Tech’s swimming head coach feels good about the future for the Yellow Jackets.

Tech figures to welcome a dozen new members to the men’s swimming and diving team, and perhaps eight to the women’s team in 2017-18. They’ll join squads that over-achieved the past season considering circumstances.

The women finished 10th at the ACC Championships, improving a spot from last year, while the men placed ninth despite missing multiple student-athletes who likely would’ve scored in the conference meet.

“I think our women did a great job this year,” Hart said. “Our motto was to be competitive [with each other], but supportive. I think they did that. They pushed each other in practice and in meets, and that helped us at the end of the year in championships.”

Tech’s women set 17 school records at the ACCs, and for the men senior Ben Southern, junior Moises Loschi and sophomore Rodrigo Quadros Correia all qualified for the NCAA Championships. The men set nine school records at ACCs.

“It was a unique year with the men’s team,” Hart explained. “We had a few athletes on the roster who didn’t compete and their points would have been valuable. It wasn’t anything that you could foresee. Our guys that competed for us did a great job for us considering the adversity that we faced.”

The women’s team, which will lose six seniors, got off to a nice start on the first day of the ACCs when seniors Maddie Paschal and Chiara Ruiu, sophomore Laura Branton and junior Kaitlin Kitchens combined to set a school-record time of 1:38.50 in swimming to an eighth-place finish in the 200 Medley relay.

Sophomore Iris Wang and freshman Emily Ilgenfritz later joined both Kitchens and Ruiu to finish seventh in the 800 freestyle relay in a school-record mark of 7:08.87.

When junior Kira de Bruyn finished sixth in the 400 individual medley while setting a school record of 4:12.69, the Jackets kept building momentum.

“We had some people step up in championships to get us going. The first one that comes up is Kira de Bruyn in the 400 IM,” Hart said. “We broke two school records the first night, and did a great job, but I think the 400 IM, from a performance perspective, really is a ‘We can do this’ type of thing.

“Everyone was on board, but to see an individual performance like that, to see her really break through, got everyone going.”

For the men, Loschi was runner-up in the 200 breast stroke (school-record 1:53.08) and Southern finished third in the 200 butterfly (1:43.01, second in school history), each earning All-ACC honors.

Correia, Loschi, Southern and junior Noah Harasz placed third in the 400 medley relay after turning a school-record 3:07.86.

At the NCAAs, Southern finished 18th in the 200 butterfly with a school-record time of 1:42.21 and tied for 34th in the 100 butterfly (46.78).

Correia was 29th in the 100 backstroke (46.87), 34th in the 200 individual medley (1:34.19) and 34th in the 100 freestyle (43.40).

Loschi was 29th in the 100 breaststroke (53.04) and 41 st in the 200 breaststroke (1:58.76).

The men’s team loses five seniors, yet figures to add more than twice that many to next year’s roster.

“We’re really excited about our incoming class,” Hart said. “We have a great mixture on the team that really mirrors the student body. I think they’re going to make an immediate impact.

“The only way you’re going to compete in the ACC is to recruit competitors that will score at the ACC level. We will be a little bit bigger than we have been, but not so big that we can’t take care of everybody.”

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