Feb. 19, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The South Carolina men's swimming and diving team posted a pair of school records at the finals on Tuesday night, giving the Gamecocks a strong start at the 2013 SEC Championships at the Texas A&M Student Recreation Center.
South Carolina's 800 freestyle relay team of Gerard Rodriguez, Michael Flach, Marwan El Kamash and Alex Fitton finished sixth in the event with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 6:23.99, smashing the school record by nearly four seconds (6:27.30 - Feb. 16, 2011). In the men's 200 medley relay, the Gamecock team of Jay Warner, Graham Kauffman, Collin Kaden and Fitton touched seventh with a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 1:26.95, breaking the previous school record of 1:28.14 (Feb. 19, 2011).
With day one of the championships in the books, the Gamecocks are in seventh place with 107 points. On the women's side, Carolina is in 11th with 65 points.
"This is better than we could have hoped for with our men," South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. "We got two big school records. It wasn't even close. They went so far under them that we knew in the third leg of both relays that we would get them. This is a huge bonus for us. We are in a great spot. The guys are swimming awesome and have a ton of confidence."
In the women's 200 medley relay, the team of Matea Peteh, Amanda Rutqvist, Casey Papp and Rachel Elliott placed 11th with a time of 1:41.95, which ranks fifth all-time at South Carolina. The Gamecock 800 freestyle relay team of Rachael Schaffer, Abby Galbreath, Annika Jonsson and Meghan Brockington concluded the night with a 12th-place finish in 7:24.84.
"These are our two weakest relays on the women's side, so I'm not surprised with where we were," Moody said. "We are going to have to evaluate Rachael Schaffer because she's hurt pretty bad in terms of her back. That's a little concerning, and I'm not the kind of coach that will throw her back in there if she will hurt herself worse."
During the preliminaries on Tuesday, the Gamecocks had six divers in action. In the men's one-meter competition, junior Andrew Helmich was the Gamecocks' top finisher as he claimed 18th with a score of 266.70, which will give the Gamecocks seven points. His finish and score are both career highs at the SEC Championships. Sophomore Cole Miller placed 19th with a mark of 262.60 to secure six points for South Carolina, while senior Rylan Ridenour finished 28th with a score of 231.90.
Freshman Lauren Lamendola led the way for South Carolina in the women's three-meter competition, finishing 22nd with a score of 265.85 to score three points for the Gamecocks. Senior Chay Malvasio turned in a 26th-place finish with a score of 253.45, and sophomore Patricia Kranz placed 31st with a mark of 235.85.
"Today was kind of a surprise. We had some disappointments and we had some great performances," South Carolina head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. "All I can say is some days you come to these things and you have to learn and some days you come and you do the teaching. I think some of my more advanced kids learned some stuff today. I think it's really going to benefit them in the long run.
"We had three outstanding performances today. I was pretty impressed with Chay Malvasio's performance coming off a torn labrum. I was pretty impressed with that. Andrew Helmich dove out of his mind and really stepped up. Lauren Lamendola, as a freshman, we are really going to be hearing some things about her because she is really a great competitor. Tomorrow is going to be a much better day for us."
The Gamecocks will be back in action on Wednesday in the preliminaries, which begin at 10 a.m. CT. On the schedule for the morning are the 500 freestyle, the 200 IM, the 50 freestyle and the women's one-meter diving. Live results and video will be available here.
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