Feb. 15, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It's postseason time for the University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving program, beginning with the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championships. The five-day conference meet runs Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 16-20 at the Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Mo.
Complete coverage from all five days will be streamed through SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app, and fans are encouraged to follow @GamecockSwim, the official Twitter account of Carolina Swimming & Diving, for direct links to specific broadcasts.
Both South Carolina squads finished the dual portion of their season with 6-3 records. The Gamecock men are receiving votes in the College Swimming Coaches Association of American top-25 poll, while the women enter the postseason on a six-dual winning streak.
The Gamecocks last competed Jan. 30 in Greenville, N.C. The Carolina men knocked off host East Carolina, 193-105, and earned a 179-107 victory over William & Mary. The Gamecock women's squad topped the Pirates, 170-129 and beat the Tribe by a 175-110 count.
LAST SEASON AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Carolina men placed seventh at the 2015 SEC Championships, held in Auburn, Ala., while the Gamecock women came in 11th. Overall, the Gamecocks finished the meet with 11 A Final qualifications, nine top-five finishes and four podiums.
Among returning Gamecocks, Nils Wich-Glasen had the highest finish, a second place result in the men's 200-yard breaststroke. Lauren Lamendola came in third in the women's 1-meter dive, and Meredith Vay was third in the women's 200-yard freestyle.
Two veteran Gamecocks qualified for a pair of A finals last season at the conference meet. Akaram Mahmoud came in fourth in the 500-yard freestyle and fifth in the 1,650-yard freestyle, while Tomas Peribonio was fourth in the 1,650 free and eighth in the 500 free.
CAROLINA'S SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
Since first competing in the SEC Championships in 1992, the Gamecocks have recorded 15 individual SEC event titles. The Carolina men placed fifth in 1992, their best mark, and the women's finished fifth in both 2004 and 2005.
Michelle Davison is the lone Carolina student-athlete to win three SEC championships; she captured the 3M dive crown in 1998 and won the 1999 titles on both the 1M and 3M boards. Four Gamecocks have won two SEC individual titles: Vivian Alberty (1M dive in 1994 and 1995), Zsolt Gaspar (100 fly in 2000, 50 free in 2001), Allison Brennan (1M and 3M dive in 2006), and Taryn Zack (1M dive in 2009 and 2011).
On the men's side, South Carolina is looking for their first SEC titles since 2001, when Gaspar took the 50 free and Tamas Szucs won the 200 free. The Gamecock women last produced an SEC champion on 2012, when Courtney Forcucci won the 1M dive. The only Gamecock to win a women's swimming event is Amanda Rutqvist, the 2011 SEC champion in the 200 breaststroke.
Several current Gamecock veterans are contenders this season after producing great SEC Championships performances in previous seasons. Jordan Gotro was named Freshman Diver of the Year in 2014. Wich-Glasen finished second in the 200 breaststroke last season, while Lamendola (3M dive) and Vay (200 free) each earned podium spots. Mahmoud (500 free) and Peribonio (1650 free) each placed fourth in one event last season.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody - "At this point of the year, all of the work is done. What we try to do is rest them as much as possible. This is where training becomes very scientific, based on the amount of yardage we have done throughout the year, how much yardage we drop off, how much speed we can create in the water, and little technical changes. We do a lot of start and turn work. So the last three weeks has been focused on resting, bringing them out of the weight room, encouraging them to walk as little as possible, just to take care of themselves." -- On Carolina's preparation for the SEC Championships
"I think the mindset of our team right now is really good. We've had some relay meetings where we ask our men and women to essentially call their shots. In front of the team, talk about what they're capable of doing and how they're going to help that relay be better. That sets a certain level of accountability, and they have not shied away from it at all. They're very confident in their ability." -- On the mindset of his team approaching the big meet
"The intensity level of the SEC Championships is higher than anything I've ever been a part of. In most cases, the intensity level is higher than the NCAA Championships, because you have full team rosters. When you're in the fastest conference in the country and you have premier athletes from every school represented, interest comes not just from parents and fans of the school, but also fans of swimming that don't really have any relation to the SEC Championships. They want to see Olympians and really fast competition. So there's a big crowd there and the intensity level is really high." -- On the pressurized environment of the SEC Championships
"We're preparing differently for everybody. I think Akaram and Nils are comfortably in a position to move on to the NCAA Championships already. They're preparing a little bit differently. We don't need them to be at their absolute best at the SEC Championships; I need them to go and vie for a national title at NCAAs. So their training is a bit different now than maybe Tomas, or Cody Bekemeyer or Kevin Leithold, who still maybe need to post a time that gets them to that meet." -- On the different preparations for the swimmers on the men's team
"I think if you watch Emma Barksdale, she's swimming really sharp right now. She will continue to do so, but she's still a freshman, and the freshmen have never seen anything like this. Our job as coaches is to make sure she's calm and collected; the same goes for McKenna Keith, Paige Maynard, Marissa DelGado and all of these young ladies that have never been at a meet with this level of intensity. Our job is to let them know that they earned their way here. You're not an outlier here." -- On the prospects of his underclassmen swimmers on the women's side
"I think Taylor Vincent has had an outstanding year, and she's getting ready to shine. She's about to have a breakthrough year like we've never seen. And I think we're going to see a few of those women that are still working their way into this program; they're going to explode and do really good things for us." -- On Taylor Vincent and the rest of his under-the-radar swimmers
"I think our goal is always to take this meet and use it as a platform to get as many folks to the NCAA Championships as we can. It's a huge meet for us; it's a big team meet, but at the same time the role of this meet is to put us in a position to step up on a national level and be great at NCAAs." -- On his team's goals at the SEC Championships
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt - "There's no question that Jordan has greatly improved. He still has some polishing to do in his diving, but he has gotten stronger. If you saw him from when he came in until now, you wouldn't think it's the same person. He really has done a great job in the gym, and in the weight room, and he's gotten stronger. I think he's got a lot of good competition ahead of him at this meet. I think a good goal for him would be to make finals in all three events and be in a position to win one." -- On Jordan Gotro's chances at the conference meet
"If Julia is on, then she's going to be there in both events. Her diving has gotten that much better. She certainly is a world-class athlete coming from the World Championships. In the air, she's very exciting to watch. She's an explosive diver. She's worked really hard this year. She's had a long season and has posted some very high scores. She's really in a good place right now." -- On the prospects of sophomore Julia Vincent
"Lauren's training, coming into this meet, is the best I've ever seen it. For her to post a record at ECU is just amazing to me. She's really good, and I wouldn't rule her out. When she gets in a meet, she steps it up. She's a beautiful diver. Her training coming into this meet has been impeccable, and I wouldn't rule her out of the medals." -- On senior Lauren Lamendola, Carolina top diving finisher in 2015
"I think we tend to do a lot of hurdles coming into big meets, because at the end of the day, you want to be able to put yourself in the right place, in the right situation, which makes everything else work. I go over the mental game, and how we're going to approach that. And doing the right amount of numbers is really important, because it's really easy to over-train. I think sometimes when you're a coach, you want to get something just right, so you tweak and tweak and tweak, and over the years I've learned to be a little more relaxed on the week going in and get the work done the week before." -- On his method of preparing for a big meet
LAST TIME OUT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina closed the regular season Jan. 30 with wins over East Carolina and William & Mary. The Gamecock men downed the Pirates, 193-105 and the Tribe, 179-107. On the women's side, Carolina took down ECU, 170-129, and William & Mary, 175-110.
Emma Barksdale (1000 free, 200 breast, 200 IM) led Carolina with three victories at ECU, while Lamendola (1M dive, 3M dive) won both women's diving events. Ashleigh Ferguson (100 back), Maggie Harman (500 free), Paige Maynard (200 fly) and Taylor Worrell (200 free) also took women's events.
For her efforts, Lamendola was named SEC Female Diver of the Week. It was her first weekly conference award since 2014.
For the men, Gotro (1M dive, 3M dive), Mahmoud (500 free, 1000 free) and Wich-Glasen (100 breast, 200 breast) each climbed to the top of the podium twice, while Jonathan Boland (100 fly), Caleb Tosh (200 fly) and Phillip Willett (200 IM) were also victorious.
AWARDS ROLLING IN
The Gamecocks have been a constant presence in the SEC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week awards in 2015-16. Maynard was the first to be honored by the SEC this season, taking Freshman of the Week honors on Oct. 13 after winning two events at the FGCU Classic.
Carolina's biggest week came on Oct. 27, as Mahmoud (Male Swimmer), Gotro (Male Diver), Julia Vincent (Female Diver) and Cody Bekemeyer (Male Freshman) were all tabbed. Mahmoud won three races vs. Purdue, while Gotro won both dives and Bekemeyer tallied three runner-up spots against the Boilermakers. Vincent won the 1M and 3M dives against Clemson.
The Carolina women's divers won the year's final three weekly awards. Allyson Nied was the winner on Jan. 19 after taking the platform at Georgia Tech, Vincent was honored on Jan. 26 after two wins at the quad meet, and Lauren Lamendola was picked on Feb. 2 after winning twice at ECU.
Bekemeyer won Freshman of the Week again on Jan. 26, and Harman was named Female Freshman of the Week on the same day after collecting three individual wins at the quad meet.
During the holiday break, one member of the swimming & diving program earned their degree from the University of South Carolina. 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 receiving votes in the CSCAA top-25 poll and 20th in the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
Carolina's divers compete at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships from March 7-9 with an eye toward qualifying for the national meet. The NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships are March 17-19, and the NCAA Men's Championships are scheduled for March 24-26. All three meets will be held in Atlanta, Ga.
- Women's Sports
- Fan Zone
- Gamecock Club
- Academic Services
- Active Gamecocks
- Annual Reports
- Brag Points
- Communications and Public Relations
- Community Outreach
- Compliance Services
- Facility Rentals
- Facility Projects
- Football Strength & Conditioning
- Gamecock Gala
- All Access