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#TGW: Eyes on the Prize

Feb. 25, 2015

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

   There will for some be a sentimental element to the ACC’s men’s swimming and diving championships at Georgia Tech, yet the Yellow Jackets are not likely to dwell on the fact that they’ll be competing at home. They want to move up.

   Tech finished seventh in the ACCs last year, and this year may be better positioned to perform in the biggest meet of the season.

   The Jackets (10-4, 3-2 ACC) will send 17 swimmers into the Aquatic Center pool Wednesday-Saturday in a schedule bumped forward three hours by the threat of inclement weather to a 3 p.m. start within the Campus Recreation Center.

   For several, this will be the last go-round, and senior Andrew Kosic – who will be among the busiest Jackets with 10 races in four days – is mindful of that but only to a point.

   “Just knowing this is my last meet swimming for Georgia Tech, in the pool that I have called home for the past four years, there is some emotion in that,” said the freestyle/butterfly specialist.

   “All year we’re working toward the goal of performing in the ACCs. When we have our goal meeting, that’s what we set our goals for. We’re hoping to move up from last year’s finish, move ahead of some teams that finished ahead of us.”

    That will take some work.

    The ACC is a fairly stout swimming conference with five men’s teams ranked in the top 25 nationally in No. 7 N.C. State, No. 10 Louisville (a newcomer), No. 15 North Carolina, No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 25 Virginia.

    With a slew of Tech individual and relay records between them, Kosic and fellow senior Nico van Duijn of Switzerland, figure to pace the Jackets.

   They have for quite a while, and senior co-captain butterfly/individual medley man Mark Sarman will be in the mix as well.

   “Some people lead by example. That’s Andrew Kosic; he gets out there and he’s competitive,” said coach Courtney Shealy Hart. “He’s consistent. You know you can count on him. He’s going to get out there and do it for you but he’s not the rah-rah guy.

    “I’m excited. Our men’s team has worked really hard, and done some great things this year. We have great leadership. They’re ready to go. We’ve got to keep them healthy.”

   That was an issue last week, when the women’s team was punished by a virus so severe that some swimmers could not compete. They finished 11th in the ACC.

   Wednesday’s schedule will include the 200 medley relay and the 800 freestyle relay. Hart rolled out the lineups for those events Tuesday. Relay teams for the rest of the meet will be determined on the fly, and the freestyle and so forth in coming days.

   “The first two relays are kind of based on what you’ve done all year. The rest of the relays and lineup changes will be based on how you’re doing now,” Hart explained. “I announced the 200 medley and 800 free, and I said the rest of the relays are based on how you swim.

   “So if somebody tapers really well, which means they’ve rested really well and maybe in season they didn’t swim as well as they were broken down muscle-wise, they’ll be on that relay if they swim well that day.”

     Kosic is a virtual lock to compete in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, where he holds school records, the 100 butterfly and participate in the 200 free, 400 medley and 800 free relays.

    He’s counting on help and planning to help outside the pool.

    “Guys like myself and Nico, who have been through this three times, kind of know what to expect,” he said. “We can share some of our experiences with the younger guys, who might get a little nervous in the beginning with all the people here, and the noise.

   “[Sophomore] Ben Southern has been looking pretty good in the butterflies. Nico made NCAAs for us last year. Noah Harasz, a freshman, has been looking pretty good in the freestyles. Youssef Hammoud, a [junior] transfer from Auburn, is starting to come around for us in the sprint races.”

    

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