COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Swimming & Diving program has one final tune-up for postseason competition when it takes part in a tri-meet against East Carolina and William & Mary on Saturday, Jan. 30. Start time at the Minges Natatorium in Greenville, N.C., is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.
Carolina is 4-3 in men’s dual meets after earning wins over Queens, UNC Wilmington and Wingate last weekend in Columbia. The Gamecocks are ranked 23rd in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America national top-25 poll.
The Gamecock women are also 4-3, with victories in their last four duals. South Carolina dropped Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt on Jan. 16 and followed that win up with triumphs over Queens, UNCW and Wingate last week.
The Pirates enter Saturday’s competition with a 5-1 women’s record and a 4-1 men’s mark. The Pirate women beat Old Dominion in their last meet, 178.5-115.5 on Jan. 16, while the men topped ODU, 182-118.
William & Mary’s men boast an impressive 7-1 record after dispatching of Davidson, 191-68, on Jan. 16. The Tribe women’s squad is 6-3 and beat Davidson, 172-87.
South Carolina head swimming coach McGee Moody is very familiar with this week’s Gamecock opponents. Moody swam for East Carolina from 1992-96, setting several program records and captaining the team in his junior and senior seasons. After graduation, he began his coaching career at his alma mater, serving as an assistant coach from 1996-2000. The Pirates are still led by Moody’s collegiate head coach, Rick Kobe.
Moody was the head coach at William & Mary from 2005-07. He was named Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 2007 after leading the Tribe to the first league championship in their 80-year history.
RECAPPING THE LAST WEEK
The Gamecocks earned a trio of 175-125 victories on both the men’s and women’s sides when they hosted Queens, UNC Wilmington and Wingate Jan. 22-23. The Gamecocks won 24 of the 40 events contested over the two days in their final home competition of the 2015-16 season.
On the women’s side, a pair of freshmen carried the day, with Emma Barksdale and Maggie Harman winning three individual events each. Julia Vincent won both diving events, while Katie O’Brien won one event and the Gamecocks earned one relay victory.
Jonathan Boland, Jordan Gotro and Kevin Leithold each won a pair of events to lead the Gamecocks on the men’s side, while Cody Bekemeyer, Evan Freed, Bryce Kananowicz, Akaram Mahmoud, Fynn Minuth and Nils Wich-Glasen each took the top spot in a single event. Carolina also won two relays.
Three members of the University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving program were honored with Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Week awards, the league announced on Tuesday. Vincent was named SEC Female Diver of the Week, while Bekemeyer and Harman earned Male and Female Freshman of the Week laurels, respectively. Vincent’s Diver of the Week award is her second of the season and the fourth for the Gamecocks in 2015-16. Bekemeyer is now a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week, while Harman’s weekly award is the first of her career.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody – “We were better than the previous two weeks before that. We’re starting to tighten up our races a little bit, and we are improving in some areas where we need to get better. I still think we’ve got a long way to go. We’re still, as coaches, trying to get a good feel for where our athletes are at physically. We have to make sure that, as we start our rest for the SEC Championships, we really have a good working knowledge of what they need to be as fast as they can be over that five-day period. We’re getting to that point.” – On his team’s performance in their quad meet victories last week
“We’ve got one more meet this weekend, against William & Mary and East Carolina up in Greenville, N.C. We’re excited about going back up to Greenville. We’ve got a lot to prove up there and a chance to swim against two very good teams. So we’ve got one more chance to run through things and make sure that we get all the adjustments that we need to make, and then we’re going to focus on speed and getting ready to race fast at SECs.” – On the final meet before postseason competition begins
“That’s the goal every time we hit the water, and I think some people prepared differently for this meet than others did. Some were at higher levels of training than others were. But when you have some folks that are rested, and you start to see some fast swims, not only is it encouraging for them, but it’s also encouraging for the rest of the team, that when they go through that same taper and that same rest, that they’re going to be fast. There are folks that this was their last meet of the season this past weekend, and they helped set the tone for the championship season. They did a great job with that. They got us headed in the right direction as far as a team dynamic goes leading into SECs. So not only is it good for the individual; it’s good for the team too.” – On the victories that set the tone for his team at the quad meet and beyond
“This is not a four-year program. We’re not done after four years. We encourage our athletes to come back, not only for alumni weekends, but anytime they’re back in town. For football games, for basketball games, anything like that; come by the office and sit down and talk with us. I love keeping up with what our athletes are doing, because not only are they successful athletes here, they usually go on to be pretty successful people.” – On the bond he has with his departing seniors and alumni
“There are certain things that we’ll deal with individuals on, but for the most part, we want to go up and have a strong showing as a team. We want to race, top-to-bottom, in every event, and be strong, knowing that when we walk out, we’re ready to go start this last phase, the championship season. Individually, there might be minor little things, but we’re going to talk to the group as a whole. We’ll meet on Friday night, and our goal is to go beat the Tribe and go beat the Pirates. That’s what we want to do. The culture around here has really changed in the last ten years, since I’ve been here. Now the expectation is whenever you go anywhere, whether it’s home or away, you go to win.” – On his goals for Saturday’s meet
VERSATILE BARKSDALE WINS TWO NEW EVENTS
Freshman Emma Barksdale entered the Quad Meet with four event victories in two different events this season and added two more events to her trophy case against Queens, UNCW and Wingate. Barksdale won the 200 IM Friday and the 200 breaststroke Saturday, her first career wins in those races. She also added a fourth consecutive 400 IM win before the meet was over.
GROUP OF GAMECOCKS EARN FIRST VICTORIES OF 2015-16
Several Gamecocks left the Quad Meet with their first individual wins of the 2015-16 season. Leading the way was Harman, who won the 100, 200 and 500 freestyles for her first ever wins as a collegian. The rookie swam personal bests in all three disciplines.
O’Brien won the 200 fly on Friday, her first victory since 2014, also in a meet featuring Queens and Wingate.
On the men’s side, Freed won the 200 backstroke on Friday for his first career victory, and he swam three personal records during the meet. Kananowicz won the 100 back, his first win of the year, while Boland touched the wall first in both the 50 and 100 free. The wins were his first since 2014, when he took the 100 back in a tri-meet against East Carolina and College of Charleston.
DIVERS REACH PERSONAL HIGHS ACROSS THE BOARD
The Carolina divers were on fire at the Quad Meet, combining to set 13 personal records over the two-day event. Leading the way was Vincent, who won both the 1-meter and 3-meter events on the women’s side, and her score of 391.58 in the 3-meter was less than a point short of the program record. Gotro won both men’s events with record scores, while Mikaela Lujan (1M & 3M), Lyle Markman (1M & 3M), Allyson Nied (1M & 3M), Marisa Rasnick (1M) and Marissa Roth (1M & 3M) also set career bests.
During the holiday break, one member of the swimming & diving program earned their degree from the University of South Carolina. Leithold was one of 17 Gamecock student-athletes to graduate in December. The Sandersdorf, Germany, native has already earned seven event victories this season, including his win in the Duke dual meet.
GAMECOCK MEN REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
After securing a big win over Purdue on Oct. 24, the men’s program moved up to 16th in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) NCAA Division I Team Rankings, and on Nov. 25, South Carolina moved up to 15th. It is the team’s best-ever ranking in the poll. The Gamecocks are currently ranked 23rd in the CSCAA top-25 poll and 19th in the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings.
AWARDS ROLLING IN
Following the win over Purdue on Oct. 24, three members of the University of South Carolina men’s swimming and diving team were recognized by the SEC with weekly honors. Mahmoud was named the SEC Male Swimmer of the Week, Bekemeyer was honored as the SEC Male Freshman of the Week, and Gotro earned Male Diver of the Week accolades. For the women, Julia Vincent was named the SEC Female Diver of the Week after wins in both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards against Clemson.
Nied added to the Carolina trophy case Jan. 19, when she was honored as SEC Female Diver of the Week. That set the stage for Jan. 26, when Julia Vincent took Diver of the Week again, while Bekemeyer and Harman were the league’s top weekly freshmen.
- Carolina owns an 8-2 record against East Carolina on the men’s side. The teams last faced each other on Nov. 8, 2014, a 169-104 Gamecock victory.
- On the women’s side, the Gamecocks are 4-1 against the Pirates. The last meeting was also on Nov. 8, 2014, a 157-116 Carolina win.
- Jeremiah Bohon (200 IM), Boland (100 backstroke), Leithold (100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke), Tomas Peribonio (1000 freestyle, 200 backstroke) and Wich-Glasen (200 breaststroke) each won men’s events in the last meeting against East Carolina, which was a tri-meet that included College of Charleston.
- For the Gamecock women, Ellen Johnson (100 breaststroke), Lauren Lamendola (3-meter dive), Heather Merritt (100 & 200 backstroke) and Meredith Vay (50 & 200 freestyle) touched the wall first in the 2014 meet with ECU and College of Charleston.
- The Carolina men have faced William & Mary just once in dual competition, a 49-45 loss in 1965.
- The Gamecock women won the William & Mary Relays in 1996 but have never matched up with the Tribe in a dual meet.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
Following Saturday’s meet, it’s postseason time for the Gamecocks, starting with the 2016 SEC Championships. The annual conference extravaganza runs Feb. 16-20 in Columbia, Mo.
Swimming news courtesy of USC Swimming & Diving.