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Freshmen Highlight Strong Day 1 at GT Invite

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech swimming and diving competed at Day 1 of the GT Invite. A strong showing from the freshman class sparked nine top times in program history.

Freshman Mert Kilavuz, who already owns the 1000 free program record, came up 1.12 seconds short of the 500 free program record. Kilavuz is second in program history with a time of 4:17.59. He is behind Batur Ünlü in the record books. Ünlü also competed in the 500 free on the day turning in a time of 4:17.38.

“Mert has done a really good job in practice. We knew he was fast coming in but we wanted to see how that would transpire coming into short course yards,” assistant coach Angie Nicoletta said of Kilavuz’s start on The Flats. “He’s done really well in training and it shows.”

Eight more top times in program history were set at McAuley Aquatic Center on the day, all with a freshman involved. Rachel Fulton has the second fastest 50 free time (22.77) in program history and Zora Ripkova turned in the ninth fastest 50 free time in program history (23.14).

The women’s side etched two top relay times. The 200 free relay team that featured three freshman of Fulton, Ripkova, Emily Graham and Sophie Murphy turned in the second fastest time (1:31.12) in program history. The 400 medley relay team featuring a single freshman of Jami Williams, Nicole Williams, Lindsey Merk and Caroline Pape turned in the eighth fastest time (3:41.82) in program history.

Yellow Jacket freshman men would not disappoint turning in five new top times in program history. In addition to Kilavuz’s 500 free time, Berke Saka and Antonio Romero turned in top five times in program history. Saka touched the wall in the 200 IM at 1:45.29, good for third in program history. Romero secured a time of 1:46.52 in the 200 IM, good for fifth in program history.

Saka then took to the pool in the 400 medley relay and, combined with Daniel Kertesz, Christian Ferraro and Ünlü, set the fifth fastest time (3:08.44) in program history. The men’s 200 free relay team of Ferraro, Kertesz, Saka and Justin Alderson set the seventh fastest time (1:18.65) in program history.

Sights are also set on qualifying for the NCAA Championships that are being hosted at McAuley Aquatic Center in March. The first step is getting ‘B’ cuts. Eight ‘B’ cut times were achieved in the pool on Thursday:

  • Ünlü – 500 free (4:17.38)
  • Kilavuz – 500 free (4:17.59)
  • Clark Wakeland – 500 free (4:19.17)
  • Ferraro – 50 free (19.64)
  • Alderson – 50 free (19.92)
  • Austin Daniel – 50 free (19.92)
  • Saka – 200 IM (1:45.29)
  • Romero – 200 IM (1:46.52)

Diving saw women compete on the 1-meter board and men compete on the 3-meter board. Camryn Hidalgo, Ruben Lechuga, Allen Mann, and Kelsey Dekshenieks all made it to the finals of their events on the day. Hidalgo finished third in the 1-meter board (284.90) after qualifying in the top spot of prelims, Lechuga set a new personal best for the second meet week in a row on the 3-meter board (391.55) finishing third, Mann set a new personal best as well on the 3-meter board (346.20) improving from 10th in prelims to fifth in finals and Dekshenieks climbed to sixth (264.15) after qualifying in the 10th spot of prelims.

Consistency was the focus for the bunch. “My prelims were more consistent,” Hidalgo said of her performance. “I may have been more relaxed during prelims and maybe more nervous during finals. That is good intel and gives me something to work on in practice.”

Lechuga noted his consistency in finals helped him set a new personal best. “The finals were a little more consistent than prelims. I got a new personal best so I keep improving. I’m trying to go for 400 points.”

Dekshenieks credits her consistency with her improvement in finals. “All my dives in finals were more consistent. I moved up four spots so I’m happy with it.”

Mann is looking to take this consistency into tomorrow’s meet for his new dives. “I’m really excited for 1-meter because I have a new dive coming up that I’m putting in my list. We’re going to see how that one goes. Hopefully well, it’s been going well in practice. I just want to see the consistency I saw in 3-meter today.”

The White and Gold return to McAuley Aquatic Center for day two of the GT Invite. Prelims start at 10 a.m. and finals start in the 5 o’clock hour. Fans in attendance will receive a free Georgia Tech hat while supplies last.

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