Jan. 21, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina Swimming & Diving program competes at the Carolina Natatorium for the last time in 2015-16 when they host Queens, UNC Wilmington and Wingate in a quad meet scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23, 2016. Friday's action starts at 4 p.m., with Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
Prior to Saturday's session, Carolina will recognize their seven seniors who will compete at the Carolina Natatorium for the last time this weekend: Bobby Bittner, Ashleigh Ferguson, Ellen Johnson, Lauren Lamendola, Kevin Leithold, Brooke Morton and Elise Weisert.
The Carolina women are 1-3 in dual meets after defeating Vanderbilt, 165-97, on Jan. 16 in Nashville, Tenn. The Gamecocks also own a diving dual victory over Clemson in 2015-16.
The Gamecock men are 1-3 in dual meets and last competed Jan. 8, a 154-146 loss to then-No. 22 Duke. Carolina is ranked 23rd in the latest CSCAA national top-25 poll.
Both Queens teams are 4-3 in dual meets. The Royals last competed in a dual on Jan. 9 against Lenoir-Rhyne, with the men winning 119-99 and the women taking a 127-112 victory.
The UNCW men's squad is 0-4 in dual meets, and the women's team is 0-5. The Seahawks took the pool most recently at the George Mason Patriot Invitational, held Nov. 19-21. The UNCW women won the six-team event, and the men placed third.
Both Wingate teams are 3-1 in duals this season, and they last competed Jan. 15 at Catawba. The Bulldog men earned a 94-73 victory, while the women picked up a 111-62 triumph.
RECAPPING THE LAST WEEK
The Gamecock women's swimmers took down Vanderbilt on Jan. 16, 165-97, for their first dual meet win of the season. Heather Merritt, Sarah Smith and Meredith Vay each won two individual races, their first victories of the 2015-16 season. The Gamecocks also grabbed both the 400-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Merritt was victorious in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes, Smith took the 500- and 1000-yard freestyles and Vay won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. Carolina also picked up a win in the 200-yard IM courtesy of Emma Barksdale, the freshman's third win this year in the event.
A select group of Gamecock divers competed in the platform competition Jan. 15 at Georgia Tech. Diving against student-athletes from Duke, Georgia Tech and Michigan, freshman Allyson Nied won the women's competition with a total score of 245.45, her first ever collegiate win. Mikaela Lujan scored 233.75 to finish third, and Marissa Roth took seventh with 215.70. Jordan Gotro was the lone Gamecock to participate on the men's side, and he placed fifth with a total of 270.90.
For her efforts at Georgia Tech, Nied won her first career SEC Female Diver of the Week award. Nied is the third Gamecock to win Diver of the Week this season, including teammates Gotro and Julia Vincent.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody - "It was a fun meet. We had an opportunity to travel with just our women's squad over to Nashville and get a chance to race against Vanderbilt. We were able to try a couple of different things in our lineup that we haven't done before this season and see some different kids in different events. Performance-wise, we were average; we didn't really know what to expect. We didn't have a lot of dual meets where we have a seven-hour bus ride the day before. That was a different type of experience." -- On his team's effort against Vanderbilt
"All three of those student-athletes needed some positive swims, just to boost their confidence. Meredith Vay has been on the big stage before; she's a young lady who has Olympic Trials qualifying times. She's also one of our NCAA qualifiers from last year. So she's been there before, but getting her hand on the wall first this year was big for her, because she's been through a couple struggles. Heather Merritt had probably her best meet of the year, maybe her best dual meet of her career, so we're really proud of her. Sarah Smith dominated the distance events, which we were happy about. All three of those girls did a great job for us, and they've got to continue to improve. Time-wise, we still need those times to drop as we set up for the SEC Championships." -- On the three student-athletes who won multiple events at Vanderbilt
"We always talk about what (our seniors) are going to do to leave their mark, and what their legacy is going to be when they're gone. How are other teammates going to remember them? I think this group has set the tone and helped us carry forward that goal of being not only a top-20 program, but to have the culture where we go win championships. It's been fun watching them grow, and that's one of my favorite things about being a coach. You get a 17- or 18-year-old young man or woman in here, and they really are child-like. And by the time they graduate at 22- or 23-years-old, you get to see a young man or woman that's ready to go out in society and be successful." -- On his senior class
"I think we're going to have to see improvements across the board. The way our training is pointing right now, we are geared up toward SEC Championships. Every week, from here on out, when we race, we should be getting steadily faster. We should be feeling stronger. The main thing for me this weekend, as the coach of this program, is seeing us correct mistakes that's we've made; for the men against Duke and for the women against Vanderbilt. We talked about that after the Duke meet; I don't think we finished our races very well. Our women did better at that last week, but this is going to be the first time our men have races since the Duke meet. I need to see something different from them. I need to see more fire. I need to see a little more drive getting in to the finish of those races before I'm comfortable gearing into our championship season, because we've got to be able to get those basics down. We've got to be able to fine-tune, and make sure we pay attention to the details coming down the stretch here. We'll see how it goes. I think we're in a pretty good spot, men and women, but we've got to race hard this weekend and then get ready for the postseason." - On what he hopes to accomplish this weekend in the quad meet.
NOT ONE WIN, BUT TWO!
Merritt, Smith and Vay entered the Vanderbilt meet on Jan. 16 each in search of their first individual wins of 2015-16. That changed for all three Gamecocks before the first break, as Smith won the 1000 free, Merritt took the 100 back and Vay snagged the 50 free. But all three were still hungry for more. Vay was the first to bag a second win, taking the 100 free, the first event out of the break. Merritt came next with a 200 back victory, and later Smith added the 500 free to her trophy case.
BARKSDALE CONTINUES WINNING WAYS
Barksdale left the Vanderbilt dual with her third win of the season in the 200 IM. She swam the race in 2:04.85, her best mark of the season in a dual meet. The freshman now owns four victories overall after also winning the 1000 free against Duke on Jan. 8.
NIED EARNS FIRST COLLEGIATE WIN
Though most of the Carolina divers had the week off, four Gamecocks traveled to Atlanta on Jan. 15 for a platform competition against host Georgia Tech, Duke and Michigan. Nied was the top performer, seizing her first collegiate victory with a score of 245.45. The best of her five dives was a Forward 3 1/2 Somersault Pike that was scored an even 60.00.
MEN SET FOR BATTLE AFTER WEEK OFF
The Carolina men are back in the pool after last competing Jan. 8 vs. Duke. Carolina won nine events against the Blue Devils, with Nils Wich-Glasen taking three wins (100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM) by himself. Gotro won both dives, while Cody Bekemeyer (100 free), Kevin Leithold (200 free), Fynn Minuth (200 fly) and Akaram Mahmoud (500 free) each won one event.
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 23rd in the CSCAA top-25 poll and 19th in 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. Mahmoud was named the SEC Male Swimmer of the Week, Bekemeyer was honored as the SEC Male Freshman of the Week, and 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.
Nied added to the Carolina trophy case Jan. 19, when she was honored as SEC Female Diver of the Week.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
The Gamecocks have one final tune-up before the SEC Championships, as they will face East Carolina and William & Mary in a tri-meet on Saturday, Jan. 30. ECU will serve as the host, with the meet beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET in Greenville, N.C.
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