Jan. 16, 2016
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of South Carolina women's swimming & diving program led from start to finish as they took down Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt, 165-97, on Saturday at the Centennial Sportsplex. Three different Gamecocks led the way with two individual event wins each, and Carolina won both relays.
Heather Merritt (100 and 200 back), Sarah Smith (500 and 1000 free) and Meredith Vay (50 and 100 free) each won two solo races to pace Carolina. Vay was also a part of the winning teams in the 400 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
The win pushes Carolina to 1-3 in dual meets this season. Vanderbilt's loss drops the Commodores to 4-4.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGEE MOODY- "Today was a good day for our women's team. It was more about executing our races than the times. We did a good job getting our hand on the wall first, which we didn't do well last week against Duke. We finished our races today, and that was a good thing." -- On his team's overall performance in the win
"Heather Merritt was outstanding in winning both backstroke races, and Meredith Vay made some great jumps forward to get back to where she was last year. Sarah Smith was very solid in both races, and her 500 time especially was very strong. All three of them swam really well today." -- On his three multi-event winners.
Carolina started the day in the best way possible: with a victory. The team of Ashleigh Ferguson, Kersten Dirrane, Paige Maynard and Meredith Vay took the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:50.26.
Vandy took their first win in the 200-yard freestyle, but the Gamecocks still grabbed two podium spots. Taylor Worrell finished second by just .03 seconds with a time of 1:52.29, and Emma Barksdale swam 1:53.23 to place third.
The Gamecocks were back in the winner's circle in the 100-yard backstroke. Heather Merritt's time of 57.67 grabbed the top spot, and Ferguson came in second at 58.03.
Dirrane led Carolina in the next race, the 100-yard breaststroke, placing second with a time of 1:04.69. Then came the 200-yard butterfly and two more Carolina podiums; Maynard swam a 2:04.35 to finish second, and Marissa DelGado was right on her heels in 2:04.65.
It was all Carolina in the 50-yard freestyle. Vay won the race with a swim of 24.38, and McKenna Keith came in second with a time of 24.47. At the first break, the Gamecocks held a 78-53 lead.
Vay guided Carolina to another victory in the 100-yard freestyle, her second individual win of the day. The sophomore completed the race in 52.64, and teammate Caroline Petrone came in third with a time of 53.84.
Merritt tallied her second win of the day in the 200-yard backstroke, leading Carolina to a podium sweep. The winning time of 2:04.94 set the pace, while Megan Carlson finished second in 2:05.47, and Ferguson took third with a swim of 2:05.77. The closest Vanderbilt swimmer was more than two seconds behind the Carolina trio.
Though Vanderbilt won the 200-yard breaststroke, two Gamecocks finished on the podium. Barksdale swam the race in 2:20.20 to finished second, and Dirrane's 2:20.66 was good for third.
Carolina came up with their second podium finish in the 500-yard freestyle. Smith stood tallest for the second time on the day, winning the race with a swim of 4:56.17. Worrell came in second in a time of 5:04.00, and Maltby was third at 5:07.18.
The last race before the second break was the 100-yard Butterfly, with Maynard's third place finish leading the Gamecocks. At the intermission, Carolina's lead was 138-88.
Carolina emerged from the second break as sharp as ever. Barksdale won the 200-yard IM, completing the race in 2:04.85, while Dirrane was back on the podium as her 2:08.24 was good for third.
The Gamecocks put an exclamation point on the day by winning the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Vay, Keith, Petrone and Carlson posted a time of 3:33.07 to claim the race and make the final score 165-97, Gamecocks.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
Both full Gamecock squads are back at the Carolina Natatorium Jan. 22-23, when they host UNC Wilmington, Queens and Wingate in a quad meet. Friday's action starts at 4 p.m. and Saturday's conclusion starts at 10 a.m. Prior to the meet, the Gamecocks will honor their seven seniors ahead of their final home competition.
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