Jan. 14, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Swimming & Diving program is back in the pool for two meets this weekend. The divers compete at Georgia Tech on Friday, Jan. 15, with start time in Atlanta, Ga., set for 5 p.m. ET. On Saturday, Jan. 16, the women's program faces Vanderbilt. Meet time is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville, Tenn. The Gamecock men’s swimmers do not compete this week.
South Carolina returned to the pool for the first time after the holiday break with a dual meet against Duke on Friday, Jan. 8. The Gamecock men fell to the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils, 154-146, and on the women’s side, Duke took a 187-113 victory.
The Carolina women are 0-3 in dual meets; they own a diving victory over Clemson and dual meet losses to Alabama, Florida and Duke. In addition to their head-to-head results, the Gamecocks placed third at the FGCU Classic and fourth at Georgia Tech.
The Gamecock men are 1-3 in dual meets heading into the bye week. Carolina is ranked 19th in the latest CSCAA national top-25 poll.
Vanderbilt is 4-3 in dual meets this season and finished sixth in their lone multi-team invitational, hosted Dec. 5-6 by Georgia. The Commodores last competed Dec. 30, a 211-68 dual victory over Little Rock.
RECAPPING THE DUKE MEET
Despite the close losses, the Gamecock men had plenty of high notes against Duke. Carolina won nine events, with sophomore Nils Wich-Glasen taking three wins (100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM) by himself. Jordan Gotro won both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, while Cody Bekemeyer (100 free), Kevin Leithold (200 free), Fynn Minuth (200 fly) and Akaram Mahmoud (500 free) each won a single event.
The women also hit several high notes, with Julia Vincent and Kersten Dirrane each winning twice. Vincent grabbed the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, recording a season-high score of 323.70 in the 1-meter. Dirrane notched her first two victories of the season, in the 200 breast and the 200 IM.
Freshman Emma Barksdale also stood in the winner’s circle against Duke with a win in the 1000 free. Barksdale’s time of 9:51.14 was only one second off Carolina’s program record and is the ninth-fastest time in collegiate swimming this season.
ASSISTANT COACH Kevin Swander - “It’s always exciting, when you recruit someone as a certain type of swimmer, and through training you see that there’s more there than you anticipated. It’s really exciting; moving forward, it provides us a lot of depth in those events. We definitely want to see that 30-year-old (1000 freestyle) record fall. I don’t know if she will do that event again this season, but moving forward, it’s definitely something we’re going to focus on.” – On the performance of Emma Barksdale in the 1000 and 500 freestyles
“We’ve got to shore up our race strategies and dial up on our championship turns and breakouts. We’re coming off a huge block of training, and with that, the swimmers tend to be more tired. So as we get some more rest, as the weeks go by, (it’s all a) dress rehearsal for that championship performance. That’s what we’re looking for: can we clean up the finishes? Can we clean up the turns? Can we hold our breath coming off of walls? Can we execute the race strategies that we’ve been training to hit? That’s what every dual meet from here forward is going to be about for us.” – On the improvements he hopes the team makes in their meet against Vanderbilt
“There were definitely some strong showings that I think were indicators of the level of training that went in over the break. Looking at Taylor Worrell getting back down to 1:51 (in the 200 free) was nice. Brittany Oxley going under 2:20 in the 100 breaststroke, that was her second time ever in-season doing that. So there were some swims that did not necessarily grab the headlines that we were very proud of.” – On the positive under-the-radar performances from the Duke meet
“This weekend, while it’s still in a practice environment, we still expect (our men’s team) to get up and perform. Again, it’s about nailing the race strategies, and can you do it with perfect turns? Can you do it with perfect breakouts? That’s the environment that we will create Saturday for those guys. And just like the women go to Vanderbilt to work on those things, the men will stay here and do it as a team.” – On what he wants the men’s swimmers to focus on during their weekend away from competition
DIRRANE COLLECTS FIRST VICTORIES OF 2015-16
Dirrane’s two event victories against Duke are her first victories of the 2015-16 season and give her three event wins as a Gamecock. The sophomore also grabbed a third podium finish against the Blue Devils, placing second in the 100-yard breaststroke. Dirrane has finished on the podium nine times this season.
VINCENT SETS SEASON BEST AT 1-METER
Vincent’s score of 323.70 on the 1-meter board against Duke was her best of the season, topping her previous 2015-16 high of 321.15 from the Georgia Tech Invitational. The Gauteng, South Africa, native now owns five event victories this season and took both boards in dual meets against both Clemson and Duke.
BARKSDALE EXCELS IN NEW EVENTS
Barksdale had never swam the 100-yard freestyle at the collegiate level prior to Jan. 8 against Duke, but the freshman still put up one of the strongest swims in school history. Her 9:51.14 won the race and was just one second slower than a school record. Barksdale also swam the 500 free for the first time against the Blue Devils and came in second (and tops among Gamecocks) with a swim of 4:57.83.
During the holiday break, one member of the swimming & diving program earned their degree 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 seven event victories this season, including his win in the Duke dual meet.
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
Both Gamecock squads are back at the Carolina Natatorium to compete Jan. 22-23, when they host UNC Wilmington, Queens and Wingate in a quad meet. It’s Senior Day in Columbia, as the Gamecocks will honor their departing student-athletes prior to their final home meet.
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