March 19, 2011
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
AUSTIN, Texas - South Carolina freshman Amanda Rutqvist capped a stellar rookie season in style Saturday night, finishing in fifth place in the 200-yard breaststroke final at the NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships to earn her second All-America honor at the Texas Swimming Center.
Rutqvist, a native of Gothenburg, Sweden, lowered her own SEC- and school-record time in the championship final, clocking a 2:07.86 to finish fifth against the nation's best. Minnesota's Haley Spencer won the race in 2:06.12, edging out Texas A&M's Breeja Larson (2:06.18), California's Caitlin Leveren (2:06.23) and Minnesota's Jillian Tyler (2:06.35). Rutqvist finished a full half-second ahead of sixth-place finisher Laura Sogar of Texas (2:08.32).
"She was just about perfect," head coach McGee Moody said. "Amanda swam her race about as well as she could possibly do it. One of the girls that finished ahead of her graduates this year, so she'll be right in the thick of it for the next three seasons. But I couldn't be prouder of her tonight. She was just awesome. Great way to end a good week."
After posting a preliminary time of 2:09.00, Rutqvist shaved more than a full second in her championship finals swim tonight. It was also a full seven-tenths of a second faster than her SEC Championship-winning time of 2:08.56, which broke a 10-year-old Southeastern Conference record at the league meet in February in Gainesville, Fla.
Freshman Rachael Schaffer wrapped up her initial trip to the NCAA Championships on Saturday afternoon, clocking a 2:13.88 in the 200 breaststroke preliminaries to finish in 43rd place. She competed in the 200 IM and 400 IM earlier in the week, just barely missing the finals in the 400 IM on Friday.
The Gamecocks finished in 29th place with 15 points in the championships, all coming courtesy of Rutqvist's placements in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. It was the best South Carolina women's finish at the NCAA Championships since taking 26th place at the 2006 NCAA meet. California won the national title with 424 points; Georgia was the runner-up at 394.5. Other SEC teams included Florida (7th), Auburn (8th), Tennessee (12th), LSU (14th), Kentucky (28th), Arkansas (32nd) and Alabama (41st).
South Carolina will have one more week of intercollegiate swimming competition this season as sophomore Michael Flach will represent the Gamecock men at next week's NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships. The meet runs Thursday-Saturday, March 24-26, in Minneapolis, Minn.
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