The rivalry between the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee extends beyond the confines of the football field and the basketball court. Tennessee and Georgia are also rivals in swimming and diving; it is always one of the last two dual meets of the season.
The Bulldogs are currently on a long winning streak, having swept Tennessee every year since the 2012-2013 season.
“It is never just another meet with Georgia,” Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich said. “We consider them a rival because they are so good and they have set such a high standard.”
That high standard is evident again this season, with the Bulldogs currently ranked No. 11 on the men’s side and No. 6 on the women’s side.
Because the meet falls near the end of the season, the rivalry means even more for both teams.
“Both from a competitive standpoint and from a meet-timing standpoint, we just want to be better than we have been this season,” Kredich said. “There is always a little something that Georgia brings out of us.”
In the last few years in the losses to Georgia, one thing has stood out.
“The last couple of years they have just been better than us,” Kredich said. “They have been deeper, and they have had people at the very top that have just been able to beat us.”
Now, the No. 12 Vols and the No. 9 Lady Vols will try to accomplish something they have not been able to do lately against the Bulldogs.
Over the years, they have learned what they have to do to defeat the Bulldogs. Now they have to put that plan to the test.
“The difference needs to be that we have gotten that much better than them,” Kredich said. “You do that through improvement, you do that through bringing in people who can start at a higher level than the people who have graduated."
“It is a test because the more often a result falls a certain way, the harder it is to get it out of your mind that it can actually change.”
Don’t expect the team to back down from the challenge. Kredich and the Vols don’t expect any type of mental block going into the matchup.
“I don’t think this team is caught up in that,” Kredich said. “This team expects to win every time we get up on the blocks.”
The Vols will also be challenged in the diving well, where the Georgia men return two top-50 finishers from last season's NCAA Championships.
Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington is looking forward to seeing his male divers compete again after having a week off.
“It will be good for them to get up and compete in what should be a great dual meet,” Parrington said. “They (Georgia) have a couple of pretty good guys.”
On the women’s side, Tennessee will look to bounce back from a difficult meet against Arkansas last weekend.
“We are pretty evenly matched,” Parrington said. “Their top girl, the senior, is a really seasoned veteran that has been to a couple of NCAAs and done really well there.”
Tennessee is not only looking to beat Georgia in this meet but is trying to improve as the championship season approaches.
“This is just a taste of what we are going to get … by continually elevating our level of competition and making sure that it stays high at the end of the season, we certainly won’t be shocked by what we see at SECs,” Kredich said.