Oct. 2, 2003
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech swimming and diving team will open up the brand new Georgia Tech Aquatic Center on Friday, Oct. 3, at 5 p.m. for the annual alumni meet. The Yellow Jackets will also compete in an intrasquad meet on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 9 a.m. The enclosure of the $21 million operation was completed in July.
“Everyone was extremely surprised about the Aquatic Center,” said head coach Seth Baron, who enters his seventh season for the men and third for the women. “It is one of the finest facilities I’ve ever seen and is probably the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“For the first time we have a full home schedule and will host seven dual meets this year,” said Baron. “Our athletes will have to defend a home turf for the first time and we believe that it will fire our athletes up swimming in front of a home crowd.”
The men’s swimming and diving team finished last year’s NCAA Championships in a tie for 28th place, finishing in the top 30 for the third straight year. They also finished in the top four at the ACC Championships for the fourth consecutive meet, ending 2003 in fourth place.
“I think top three at the ACC Championships and top 25 at NCAAs are realistic goals,” said Baron. “Any improvement is a step in the right direction. We have the personnel to be second at the conference meet, it’s just a matter of competing at your highest level.”
The women’s swimming and diving team jumped up two spots at the conference championships, moving ahead of Duke and NC State. With 13 returning juniors and a top freshman recruiting class, Tech’s expectations have risen for 2003-04.
“The expectations are extremely high,” said Baron. “We moved up two spots last year and now the women feel that they can move up even higher at this year’s meet.”
Pacing the Yellow Jacket men will be returning ACC champion Jeremy Raines. The junior won the 100-yard backstroke last year breaking a new school record in the event. Raines will also swim the 200 back for Georgia Tech and currently ranks fourth all-time in school history.
Other top returnees for the Yellow Jackets will be senior captains Itai Eden and Eduardo Oliver. Eden finished in the top 10 at the ACC Championships in the 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly. Oliver finished sixth at the ACC meet in the 1650 free and finished eighth at the U.S. Nationals in the 1500-meter free.
“All of these guys have the potential to improve on last year’s performances,” said Baron. “They have some tough shoes to fill with the loss of a top senior class a year ago, but I believe they have the potential to fill those gaps that were left.”
Pacing the women in 2003-04 will be juniors Lisa Hancock and Anna Saum, and sophomores Ashley Kracke and Meghan DeVinney. Hancock finished eighth at the ACC Championships in the 200 fly. Saum is the only Tech women’s swimmer to earn All-ACC honors, finishing third in the 100 back in 2002. She finished in the top 10 at the 2003 ACC Championships in the 100 and 200 backstroke events.
Kracke had one of the most impressive rookie seasons for Georgia Tech in 2002-03. She broke school records in the 100 back, 200 back and 200 free. Kracke had NCAA ‘B’ qualifying times in the 100 and 200 back events, finishing fourth in the 200 back at the ACC Championships.
DeVinney competed on most of the relay teams for the Rambling Wreck and is the school record holder in the 100 fly. She missed breaking the school record in the 200 fly by less than a second and finished 11th at the conference championships.
“We believe that we could possibly qualify two or three women for the NCAA Championships this season,” said Baron. “We had one swimmer qualify in the inaugural season and Ashley (Kracke) just missed last year. This year we have many athletes that could represent Georgia Tech at NCAAs.”
The Jackets will open up the regular season in their new facility on Oct. 25 at Noon against ACC foe NC State. Tech will hit the road on Nov. 7 and 8 at Virginia and Maryland, before returning home for a non-conference matchup versus Purdue and Florida Atlantic on Nov. 14 and 15.