Jan. 7, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving program hits the pool for the first time in 2016 when they host Duke University on Friday, Jan. 8. The meet is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET inside of the Carolina Natatorium at the Blatt P.E. Center.
South Carolina is in action for the first time since Nov. 19-21, when both the Gamecock men's and women's teams participated in the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta, Ga. The Gamecock men finished in second place out of 11 teams with 1,107 points, eclipsed only by Alabama with 1,360.5 points. The women's team placed fourth out of 18 teams behind Arkansas, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast.
The Gamecock men enter Friday's meet with a 1-2 dual mark after a win over Purdue (167-129; Oct. 24) and losses to Alabama (132-166; Oct. 31) and Florida (115-178; Nov. 6). Carolina is currently ranked 19th in the latest CSCAA National Poll.
The Carolina women own a diving victory over Clemson and dual meet losses to Alabama and Florida. In addition to their head-to-head results, the Gamecocks placed third at the FGCU Classic and fourth at Georgia Tech.
Both Duke squads enter Friday's action 5-0 in dual meet competitions. The Blue Devils last competed as a team at the Nike Cup Invitational, held Nov. 19-21 in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Duke men finished first at the event, and the women took second behind the hosts from North Carolina.
The Duke men's team is currently ranked 22nd according to the CSCAA, while the women's club is listed just outside the top-25.
GAMECOCKS TO HONOR ALIA, #HEROESINBLUE
Prior to Friday's meet, the Gamecocks will honor Kassy Alia, her son Sal, and the #HeroesInBlue initiative. A 2007 alumnus of the Carolina Swimming & Diving program, Alia's husband, Greg, died in the line of duty while serving as a police officer in 2015. Gamecock fans are encouraged to "Like" Alia's Facebook page, Facebook.com/heroesinblue, and honor our local police officers on Twitter by utilizing the hashtag #HeroesInBlue.
HEAD COACH McGee Moody - "They do. Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes that's a bad thing. If you use that as a motivator, it's a good thing. If you start to believe your own hype, it's a bad thing. So we try to reward them when they're doing well. We use (the rankings) as a motivator. If you want to improve, the goal is not to be 17th. The goal is to go after a national championship." -- On if the team senses the magnitude of their national rankings
"We're a young team. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but the juniors and seniors we do have are very good leaders. They do step into that role, especially coming off the training we are coming off of. That's where our senior leadership comes into play, because if you don't have good senior leaders who have walked this walk before, it's really easy for the freshmen to get overwhelmed." -- On his team's veteran leadership
"We work really hard in the recruiting process to bring in that sort of student-athlete. On the women's side, we have seen huge success from Emma Barksdale. She's one of the fastest 400 IM (swimmers) in the nation right now. McKenna Keith has really hit the ground running and has blown up since she got here. She's embraced the training, she trusts what we're doing, and she's seen great results. The best thing about her is that I don't know if she knows how good she can be. Paige Maynard too; we've had many great freshmen come up on the women's side." -- On the members of the women's team who are contributing as freshmen
"On the men's side, Cody Bekemeyer has established himself as one of the top milers in the nation already. He trains every day with Akaram Mahmoud, and those two, along with Tomas Peribonio and Travis Morrin make each other better every day." -- On how the young swimmers mesh with the veterans on the men's side
"As coaches, we looked closely at our results from the Georgia Tech Invitational and how they responded to our first semester training. Going into this Duke meet, you see where they are in response to the high-volume training we've had going. Our distance group topped out at 100,000 (yards) a week over our break. That is a lot of yards, a lot of miles in the pool, and that doesn't include lifting and the things we do outside the pool. It's a really taxing point. So we will see how they respond to that, use the Duke meet for that, and I think we're really going to focus second semester more on race strategy, fine-tuning our races and details heading into the SEC Championships." -- On the team's goals this week vs. Duke and leading into the spring season
SWEEPING THE PODIUM
The Gamecocks swept the podium in two events at the Georgia Tech Invitational. Tomas Peribonio, Cody Bekemeyer and Phillip Willett finished 1-2-3 in the 400-yard IM, while Akaram Mahmoud, Bekemeyer and Peribonio did the same in the 1650-yard freestyle.
BARKSDALE VICTORIOUS IN ATLANTA
Freshman Emma Barksdale won the 200-yard IM for the Gamecock women at the Georgia Tech Invitational, one of five podium spots Carolina took from the event. Barksdale swam the finals in 1:59.04, setting a new personal record. Earlier this season, Barksdale won the 200 IM in a dual meet against Florida.
VINCENT LEADS CAROLINA DIVERS AT GEORGIA TECH
Sophomore Julia Vincent was Carolina's top diver at Georgia Tech. The Gauteng, South Africa, native finished second in the 1-meter with a finals score of 321.15, and she also took second in the 3-meter, scoring 368.55. Both scores were season bests for Vincent, who already owns three event victories this season.
Since the Gamecocks last competed, one member of the team has already graduated from the University of South Carolina. Senior Kevin Leithold was one of 17 Gamecock student-athletes to graduate in December. The Sandersdorf, Germany, native has already earned six event victories this season, including four wins in the 100-yard freestyle.
GAMECOCK MEN REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
After securing a big win over Purdue on Oct. 24, the men's program moved up to 16th in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) NCAA Division I Team Rankings, and on Nov. 25, South Carolina moved up to 15th. It is the team's best-ever ranking in the poll. The Gamecocks are currently ranked 19th in both the CSCAA top-25 poll and the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings.
AWARDS ROLLING IN
Following the win over Purdue on Oct. 24, three members of the University of South Carolina men's swimming and diving team were recognized by the SEC with weekly honors. Akaram Mahmoud was named the SEC Male Swimmer of the Week, Cody Bekemeyer was honored as the SEC Male Freshman of the Week, and Jordan Gotro earned Male Diver of the Week accolades. For the women, Julia Vincent was named the SEC Female Diver of the Week after wins in both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards against Clemson.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
The Gamecock women return to the pool on Saturday, Jan. 16, when they face Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. Both Gamecock squads are back at the Carolina Natatorium Jan. 22-23, when they host UNC Wilmington, Queens and Wingate in a quad meet.
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