Feb. 15, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The South Carolina swimming and diving teams got off to a strong start on Wednesday at the 2012 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee.
The Gamecocks set one school record, achieved six NCAA `B' cut times and won a bronze medal. The men finished the day in seventh place with 63 points, which is 10 points behind third-place LSU. The Carolina women are in fifth place with 67 points, just seven points behind third-place LSU. Auburn and Tennessee are tied for the men's lead with 106 points, while Tennessee leads the women's competition with 118 points.
"It was a great first night," South Carolina assistant coach Jason Memont said. "The beauty of the four-day format with the relays and the diving on the first night is that you really get a chance to watch your team get excited and get into the meet. The relays were really fast and exciting for the whole team and the divers got us off to a great start, and we will really try to carry that momentum on to the next three days. We are definitely looking forward to the rest of the week."
Senior Courtney Forcucci won her first medal at the SEC Championships as she finished third in the women's one-meter springboard competition with a score of 324.20. Forcucci led with two divers remaining, but Auburn's Vennie Dantin won with a score of 322.40 and Tennessee's Victoria Lamp took second with a score of 326.25.
"Courtney did an incredible job tonight," South Carolina diving coach Todd Sherritt said. "This is a great way to finish her SEC one-meter career. She put three dives in for eights and did a personal best on her back one and a half."
The South Carolina women produced a stellar effort in the 200-yard medley relay to kick off the swimming events. The Gamecock team of Matea Peteh, Amanda Rutqvist, Meghan Brockington and Rachel Elliott broke the school record with a time of 1:41.38 (NCAA `B' cut) to finish seventh. Carolina's time broke the previous record of 1:41.57, which was set in 2009.
In his SEC Championships debut, freshman Cole Miller had an impressive showing with a sixth-place finish in the men's three-meter springboard competition with a score of 353.95.
"Cole continues to improve and is putting in some impressive performances," Sherritt said. "Finishing in the top six as a freshman is an outstanding achievement. He just gets better as the year goes by. Patricia Kranz also put in an impressive performance. We had a great day."
The Carolina women achieved the Gamecocks' third NCAA provisional qualifying time of the night, as the 800-yard freestyle relay team of Rachael Schaffer, Annika Jonsson, Peteh and Brockington claimed seventh place in a time of 7:19.64. Schaffer's leadoff split of 1:48.12 was also a NCAA `B' cut time.
The Gamecock men's 800 freestyle relay team of Collin Kaden, James Crawford, Rory Grigull and Gerard Rodriguez wrapped up the night with an seventh-place finish in a NCAA `B' cut time of 6:32.83. Rodriguez's leadoff split of 1:36.58 was a provisional qualifying time as well.
The Gamecocks will be back in action on Thursday in day two of the SEC Championships. Preliminaries will take place at 10 a.m. with finals at 6 p.m. Events scheduled for Thursday are the 500 freestyle, 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, women's three-meter diving and men's one-meter diving. Live video and live results will be available at utsports.com.
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