South Carolina Draws Over 1,000 Fans for Tri Meet with Virginia Tech, Texas A&M

SOUTH CAROLINA vs VIRGINIA TECH vs TEXAS A&M

  • October 7, 2023
  • Columbia, SC
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Results

TEAM SCORES

MEN

  • Virginia Tech – 202, South Carolina – 95
  • Texas A&M – 157.5, Virginia Tech – 139.5
  • Texas A&M – 193, South Carolina – 102

WOMEN

  • Texas A&M – 189, South Carolina – 106
  • South Carolina – 188, Virginia Tech – 112
  • Texas A&M – 229.5, Virginia Tech – 70.5

South Carolina is blue-blood SEC, and in the SEC, football is king.

Swimming people have for a long time treated football as the enemy. “Football gets too much money” or “football screws up Title IX” are common refrains in the hallowed halls of our sport.

But it was football, in part, that was responsible for the Gamecocks’ record-breaking crowd on Saturday, where 1,026 people filled the Carolina Natatorium (which features only 800 permanent seats).

South Carolina, like many big D1 schools, has a huge football stadium that has a listed capacity of 80,250. Among those, a portion are allocated for students. But not all student tickets are the same, and there are more students than there are tickets for most big SEC games.

The school has devised a points system to track reward points that determine who gets the best seats. Using an app that students can download on their phones, students can track points for different activities. The full list of ways to earn points can be seen here, but among those rewards is attending home varsity sporting events – including swimming.

Each swim meet (or softball game, soccer game, tennis match, volleyball game, etc.) that a student attends earns them 1 point, with certain points offering ‘double points.’ South Carolina swimming has only two home meets during football season, so students can earn up to 3 rewards points for attending both. 3 rewards points, for example, is enough to overcome the deficit between a freshman and a junior in South Carolina’s ticket-pull seniority system.

Points also come with prizes, including clothing – highly-coveted by college students.

The result was a huge crowd for the Gamecocks. While the home team won just 1 of the 4 possible legs of the co-ed tri meets, hopefully the atmosphere was enough for some of those student-athletes to come back, not just for the points, but for the competition.

“What a great atmosphere today at the Carolina Natatorium with over a thousand people in attendance. We really enjoyed the opportunity to compete against both Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. Their men’s programs are two of the best in the nation and the experience for our men is exactly what we need as we seek to close the gap in the years to come. For our women, we came up short against the Aggies but earned a great win against a good Virginia Tech team that is consistently one of the best in the ACC. We had a number of our women post in-season bests, which is great this early in the year, and our freshmen continue to take strides each and every week.”

MEET RECAP

As far as the meet itself went, Texas A&M was fairly dominant. The closest final score was between the Texas A&M and Virginia Tech men, which saw A&M come out on top 157.5 to 139.5. Outside of that, the rest of the scores were quite lopsided.

Texas A&M’s Baylor Nelson lit it up in the pool, winning all 3 of his individual events. Nelson won the men’s 200 free in 1:35.88, beating out Virginia Tech’s Brendan Whitfield (1:36.31). For Nelson, that was a spectacular dual (or tri) meet swim, coming in right about a second off his career best of 1:34.76.

Nelson then went on to win the men’s 200 back in 1:45.06. While that time was much further off his career mark of 1:39.79, it was still a well swum race by Nelson. He was out in 51.71 on the first 100, then split 26.60 and 26.75 respectively on the final pair of 50s, for a 53.32.

In Nelson’s final race of the meet, he took the men’s 200 IM in 1:45.50, holding off Virginia Tech’s Carles Coll Marti, who came in 2nd at 1:46.10. He was great on the front half of the race, splitting 22.91 on fly and 26.26 on back for a 49.17 on the opening 100.

Chloe Stepanek, also an Aggie, was another triple event winner on the day. Stepanek swept the women’s sprint free events, starting with the 200 free. In the 200, she clocked a 1:47.47, winning the race handily. She held her pace very well throughout the race, splitting 25.21 on the first 50, then clocking 50 splits of 27.17, 27.34, and 27.75 the rest of the way.

Stepanek then moved on to the women’s 50 free, which she won with a 23.05. It was teammate Miranda Grana who came in 2nd, touching in 23.19.

Stepanek capped off her meet with a 49.75 in the women’s 100 free, marking the only sub-51 in the field. She split the race very tightly, going out in 24.25 and coming home in 25.50.

In addition to her 2nd place finish in the 50 free, A&M’s Miranda Grana also swept the women’s backstroke events. A freshman, Grana was exceptional in the 100 back, posting a dominant victory in 52.49. That swim also marks a career best for Grana, who has spent most of her swimming career competing in her home country of Mexico, though she did also briefly compete for Scottsdale Aquatic Club as an age group swimmer.

To go with her new PB of 52.49 in the 100 back, Grana then went on to clock a 1:56.39 en route to victory in the women’s 200 back. That swim also marks a new career mark for the freshman.

Prior to finishing in a close 2nd in the 200 IM, Virginia Tech’s Carles Coll Marti was on a tear in the men’s breaststroke events. He posted a decisive victory in the men’s 100 breast, swimming a 53.83, leading teammate AJ Pouch (55.38) into the finish. Coll Marti then went on to take the men’s 200 breast, swimming a 1:57.24. Once again, he led Pouch, who came in 2nd with a 1:58.74.

Texas A&M’s Trey Dickey was solid in the men’s distance free events on the day. He kicked his meet off with a 9:12.99 in the men’s 1000 free, leading Aggie teammate Batuhan Filiz, who came in 2nd with a 9:15.17. That duo went on to post a 1-2 finish in the men’s 500 free as well. Dickey won in 4:27.79, touching out Filiz, who clocked a 4:27.87.

Aggie Olivia Theall swept the women’s fly events on the day. She began in the women’s 200 fly, where she swam a 1:58.77. Impressively, she managed to get her final 50 under 30 seconds, coming home in a speedy 29.96. Theall then went on to swim a 53.56 in the women’s 100 fly.

Virginia Tech’s Mario Molla Yanes was a double event winner for the Hokies as well. He kicked things off with a 44.83 to win the men’s 100 free. Molla Yanes then went on to swim a 47.66 to win the men’s 100 fly by nearly a full second.

OTHER EVENT WINNERS

  • Women’s 200 medley relay: Texas A&M (Grana, Kennett, Theall, Stepanek) – 1:39.58
  • Men’s 200 medley relay: Virginia Tech (Yuk, Coll Marti, Molla Yanes, Whitfield) – 1:27.53
  • Women’s 1000 free: Abby Grottle (TAMU) – 10:01.48
  • Men’s 100 back: Michael Laitarovsky (South Carolina) – 47.74
  • Women’s 100 breast: Charlotte Longbottom (TAMU) – 1:02.55
  • Men’s 200 fly: Landon Gentry (VT) – 1:48.98
  • Men’s 50 free: Brendan Whitfield (VT) – 20.23
  • Women’s 200 breast: Giulia Goerigk (TAMU) – 2:16.39
  • Women’s 500 free: Hayden Miller (TAMU) – 4:55.34
  • Women’s 200 IM: Duda Sumida (South Carolina) – 2:02.92
  • Women’s 400 free relay: Virginia Tech (Weller Sastre, Gyurinovics, Claesson, Summers) – 3:23.64
  • Men’s 400 free relay: Virginia Tech (Whitfield, Molla Yanes, Hayon, Dominguez Calonge) – 2:56.25
  • Women’s 1-meter diving: Joslyn Oakley (TAMU) – 298.88
  • Women’s 3-meter diving: Joslyn Oakley (TAMU) – 326.85
  • Men’s 1-meter diving: Allen Bottego (TAMU) – 355.58
  • Men’s 3-meter diving: Allen Bottego (TAMU) – 368.10

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jablo
8 months ago

wait the football idea is genius… if you can’t beat em, join em.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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