Seven Gamecocks Reach Day Four Finals at SEC Championships|
Feb. 18, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The South Carolina swimming and diving teams placed seven swimmers in Saturday's finals of the 2012 SEC Championships at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee.
On the morning, the Gamecocks produced three NCAA provisional qualifying times and 19 personal bests.
Sophomore Amanda Rutqvist earned the opportunity to defend her 200-yard breaststroke title as she placed second on Saturday with a NCAA B-cut of 2:11.11. Rutqvist set the SEC record with a time of 2:08.56 in last year's final.
"Amanda had a decent morning swim. It wasn't as good as it was last year," South Carolina coach McGee Moody said. "The coaches are scratching their heads trying to figure out what is going on. Folks are posting where they were at this time last year. Amanda is going to have to step up and get a little faster."
Another bright spot for the Gamecocks was freshman Annika Jonsson in the 200-yard butterfly. Jonsson swam a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 1:59.80 to finish eighth overall to qualify for tonight's championship final. Junior Whitney Avers will compete in the consolation final after finishing tied for 14th with a time of 2:01.71.
"Annika had an outstanding swim," Moody said. "That was the best swim she's had since she's been here. She scored in the top eight, and that's huge for us. I'm proud of her."
In their last event at the SEC Championships as a Gamecock, seniors James Crawford and Ryan Connolly both earned spots in the consolation finals in their respective events. Crawford swam a time of 1:47.89 to finish 16th in the 200-yard backstroke. Connolly bounced back from Friday's disqualification in the 400-yard IM to finish 16th in the 200 breaststroke with a personal best of 2:01.62.
"Ryan is one of our captains and had possibly the most heartbreaking thing happen to him in the 400 IM yesterday, getting the disqualification," Moody said. "He could have folded it in but he came out and swam the best race I've ever seen him swim in his life. For a guy who walked on four years ago, he never took his spot for granted. To see him finish up like that and have the opportunity to swim tonight is very special."
Sophomores Gerard Rodriguez and Matt Navata closed out the preliminaries by earning spots in the consolation finals of the 200-yard butterfly. Rodriguez finished 11th with a personal best of 1:48.59, while Navata claimed 14th with a PR of 1:49.06.
In the women's platform diving, the Gamecocks wrapped up a stellar week on the boards as freshman Patricia Kranz and senior Courtney Forcucci both scored points for the Gamecocks. Kranz placed ninth in the competition with a score of 244.30, while Forcucci claimed 10th with a score of 243.55.
The finals are scheduled to get underway tonight at 6. Live results and live video will be available at utsports.com.
Friday, February 18
Women's 200 Butterfly