March 26, 2016
ATLANTA, Ga. -- The University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving team continued to reach new heights on Saturday as three more Gamecocks captured All-America honors to conclude the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Swimming & Diving Championships. South Carolina finished 17th as a team, their best overall result in 25 years.
Akaram Mahmoud set a new standard for Gamecock Swimming on Saturday when he finished second in the 1,650-yard freestyle, the best individual NCAA result in the history of the Carolina swimming program. Tomas Peribonio placed sixth in the event, and with the results, the Gamecocks finished with two swimmers in the top-eight of the same NCAA Championships race for the first time under head coach McGee Moody.
South Carolina's success wasn't limited to the swimming side of things, as diver Jordan Gotro also earned an All-America spot on Saturday. The junior made the top-16 at NCAAs for the first time in his career when he finished 12th in the platform dive.
The Gamecocks finished 19th last season at the NCAA Men's Championships, the first top-20 finish of the Moody era, and they improved two spots this season by scoring 71 points. It's the program's 12th top-20 result on the men's side and the best team finish since coming in 16th at the 1991 event in Austin, Texas.
The hosts of the 1991 event, Texas, finished as team national champions this season, with California, Florida and NC State rounding out the top-four.
Mahmoud was part of an extremely competitive evening heat in the 1,650-yard freestyle and was one of four swimmers to hold the lead at one point during the race. In the end, his time of 14:31.66 was just .12 seconds behind Chris Swanson of Penn, the NCAA champion. Still, Mahmoud's time was a new school record, eclipsing his previous best by almost four seconds, and it also represented the highest finish ever by a Gamecock swimmer in an NCAA Men's Championships event.
Peribonio swam the last afternoon heat of the mile, spending much of the heat in second place. But the sophomore turned on the jets in the final half of the race, overtaking the leader and zooming to a personal-record time of 14:44.57. It was the fastest performance of the early heats and in the end, his time held up as sixth overall. The NCAA top-eight result is the first of Peribonio's collegiate career.
Gotro came out on fire in platform prelims, setting a new career high with a score of 364.30. That mark was good for 14th place, a spot in the consolation finals, and his first career All-America honor. His best dive was his second, a Forward 3 1/2 Somersault Pike that was scored at 69.00.
The junior put another terrific list together in the consolation finals, finishing fourth in the round and 12th overall with a score of 349.40. His best dive was once again a Forward 3 1/2 Somersault Pike, which received a mark of 61.50.
Cody Bekemeyer was back in the water on Saturday to swim the 1650 free, his second event of the 2016 NCAAs. The freshman spent his entire heat in the top-four and closed with a time of 14:59.56. The swim was his second sub-15:00 effort in the race this season and was good for 22nd place overall, his personal best at the national level.
Nils Wich-Glasen swam the 200-yard breaststroke on Saturday. Despite having a time fast enough to make the A final, Wich-Glasen did not advance to the evening session after he was disqualified for a one-hand touch. Still, Wich-Glasen leaves Atlanta with his second career All-America honor after he placed seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke on Friday.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody - "It's something that we've never done before. It's the highest finish that we've ever had at the University of South Carolina. Tom, from the afternoon heats, did the same thing he did at SECs. He swam a great race. At SECs, he swam from the afternoon heats into the top-three, and then he swam from the afternoon heats here into the top-eight at the national championship meet. I'm unbelievably proud of Tom." -- On earning the highest individual NCAA finish in school history plus the top-eight effort of Tomas Peribonio
"The work that these guys put in is amazing. They really surprise us every day. Akaram did exactly what we asked. You hurt so badly for this kid, because you saw him set it up exactly how it had to be set up. To come up just that short, you're overly proud of our distance program. These guys are great, but at the same time, you just want to pull them into the wall. You want them to get there so badly. But I know the work that they've put in, and having Mark Bernardino working with that group is a huge boost. They did a great job." -- On the narrow loss by Akaram Mahmoud, and the overall success of his distance group
"It's been a great week. Up until this morning, we'd broken school records in every event and were All-Americans in every event. I couldn't have asked these guys to do anything more. Tonight, it just got even better. It's probably the best meet I've ever been apart of as a group. It's a very dedicated young group of men, and you haven't heard the last of them -- I promise you." -- On the overall success of the week and the bright future for his program
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt - "Before we started this contest, we talked a lot about competing with the heart and not the mind. It turned out exactly that way. We wanted to do better on the two springboards for sure, and we could have, but the platform is such a big mountain for us. We don't have one, and the guys in the country, there's so much depth now. So for Jordan to be top-12 is absolutely amazing. It's a great feat for him and our school, and I can't tell you how proud I am of him." -- On the All-American finish for Jordan Gotro
SOPHOMORE ALL-AMERICAN Tomas Peribonio - "That's huge. That's the first time we've done it in history. Our game plan was to do that. I almost didn't swim the 400 IM, trying to focus on the mile, and both of us were trying to get top-eight. That's great. It's huge. It's what we've been training for all year." -- On joining with Akaram Mahmoud to form Carolina's first NCAA top-eight tandem under Coach Moody
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
Though the collegiate season is over, several Gamecocks have big plans for the summer, including the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mahmoud and Vincent have already attained the marks needed to represent Egypt and South Africa, respectively, while many others have hopes of competing in Rio. Stay locked in to GamecocksOnline.com and @GamecockSwim on Twitter for the latest results from the summer circuit.
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