Jan. 26, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina swimming and diving teams will close out the regular season this weekend at home with a two-day meet against East Carolina and Vanderbilt. The meet will get underway on Friday at 5 p.m. and on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium.
Prior to Saturday's start time, 11 Gamecocks will be honored as part of a Senior Day ceremony. Isaac Badillo, Ryan Connolly, James Crawford, Rory Grigull, Dan Jackson, Aileen Atzhorn, Sarah Bartlett, Mallory Cage, Courtney Forcucci, Lindsey Olson and Alyssa Hand are set to compete one last time at the Carolina Natatorium. South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said this year's senior class will be tough to replace.
"This group is a special group because it's the first class that our coaching staff actively recruited," Moody said. "They've left their mark on this program. When they were freshmen to where we are now, it's a different world. They played a big part in turning our program in a different direction. As much as that is a factor, they changed the mindset of this program as well, where it wasn't just good enough to be average.
"I am going to miss them dearly. They are wonderful young men and women. It's been fun to watch them develop not only as athletes but also as people. The thing with our program is it's not really a four years and out deal. We expect them to continue to be a part of this program and be around here as much as they can."
The Gamecocks will look to send the seniors out on a winning note by bouncing back from last week's loss at Georgia. The Carolina women, who enter the meet at 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the SEC, will compete against both ECU and Vanderbilt and can record back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1994-95 with a win. The Gamecocks faced both teams last season as they defeated Vanderbilt, 252-43, and ECU, 168-128. Carolina holds a 4-0 record all-time against Vanderbilt and a 2-0 mark against the Pirates.
The Carolina men are 4-4 on the season and 0-3 in the conference and will only compete against East Carolina. The Gamecocks have a chance to record back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1993-94 with a win over the Pirates. South Carolina defeated ECU, 163.5-128.5, last season and has a 5-2 record all-time against the Pirates.
The Pirate women are 7-2 on the season, while the men enter the weekend at 4-3. The teams are coming off a sweep of William & Mary and Campbell on Jan. 21. The meeting with ECU is a special one for the Gamecocks' head coach. Moody, a 1998 graduate of ECU, was a four-year letter winner and two-time captain for the Pirates swimming program. He also got his start in coaching at ECU, serving as an assistant for four years.
"East Carolina is my alma mater, and I had a great time while I was there," Moody said. "(ECU head coach Rick) Kobe played a big role in the reason that I became a coach. He gave me the opportunity to coach fresh out of college and gave me a lot of responsibility, and I will forever be grateful. They have a great program and continue to bring in some great athletes every year."
The Commodores, who only have a women's program, are 1-4 on the year and 0-1 in the SEC. Vanderbilt is still a young program, as the school reinstated the sport in 2006 after disbanding it in 1990. Vanderbilt is coming off a 167-120 over Marshall on Jan. 21.
"Jeremy Organ is their head coach and he started this program from scratch," Moody said. "He's built it into a good program relatively quickly. I have no doubts that Vanderbilt will continue to develop over the next couple of years. They will give us some good competition in quite a few races."
With the meet spread out over two days, the teams will compete in 10 events on Friday (200 freestyle relay, 200 IM, 500 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 400 medley relay, women's one-meter diving and men's three-meter diving) and 11 events on Saturday (200 medley relay, 1,650 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 400 IM, 400 freestyle relay, women's three-meter diving and men's one-meter diving).
Admission is free to all South Carolina swimming and diving meets. Live results will be available both days at sportstiming.com.
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