March 6, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina divers travel to the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Ga., for the 2016 NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, to be held March 7-9. One of five NCAA regional diving events held across the country, Zone Diving is the last qualification step for student-athletes hoping to compete at the NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships.
Zone Diving begins Monday with the women's 1-meter and men's 3-meter, and on Tuesday the competition flips with the women on 3-meter and the men on 1-meter. It all wraps up Wednesday with both men and women on the platform, and fans can follow all three days through live scoring at DiveMeets.com. Competition begins at 11 a.m. each of the three days.
The number of qualification spots for NCAA Championships are based on the number of student-athletes from that zone who finished in the top 16 in that event at the previous year's NCAA Championships. This season on the women's side, the top nine will advance on 1-meter, the top eight on 3-meter and the top seven on platform.
For the men, the top 10 will advance on both 1-meter and 3-meter, and the top eight will advance on platform.
LAST SEASON AT ZONE DIVING
Two current Gamecocks qualified for the NCAA Championships last year with their performances at Zone Diving, which was held in Athens, Ga. On the men's side, Jordan Gotro placed eighth in 1-meter and ninth in platform to move on to the national meet. For the women, Julia Vincent won the 3-meter as a freshman at Zones and came in third in the 1-meter.
Gotro and Vincent aren't the only current Gamecocks to have experience at Zone Diving. Lauren Lamendola placed 12th in 1-meter and 14th in 3-meter last season, while Marissa Roth came in 17th in 3-meter and 21st in platform. Lyle Markman also competed on the men's side last season, coming in 29th on the 1-meter board and 32nd on the 3-meter.
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt - "I think they came out of conference pretty motivated. Normally, the week after conference, training goes a little down, but this team has not done that. If anything, they kind of stepped it up. The objective at Zones, is obviously, you want to dive great, but consistency is a huge factor." -- On his team's prospects at Zone Diving
"I wouldn't rule out any of my athletes, because they've all gotten better. They do some surprising things at meets, and that's one of the things I like about this group. They'll get into a contest and do something you haven't even seen in practice. That's nice to see as a coach." -- On the ability of his team to rise to the occasion in big meets
"You try not to peak until right around Zones, and you have to be careful about that, because the women go immediately after Zones into NCAAs. They have to get to a certain level and maintain that level. So this week, I'm doing some tweaking on the mechanics." -- On the team's preparations for Zone Diving
LAST TIME OUT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina finished seventh on the men's side and 11th on the women's side at the 2016 SEC Championships, held Feb. 16-20 in Columbia, Mo. The Gamecocks broke nine school records at the conference meet and finished with five podium positions, including Akaram Mahmoud's conference championship in the men's 1,650-yard freestyle.
The Gamecock divers were a huge part of Carolina's SEC success. The women's divers accumulated 172 combined points at the event, tops among all teams. Allyson Nied led Carolina with a third place finish on the platform, while Marissa Roth took seventh on the tower. In 1-meter, Lauren Lamendola came in fourth while Julia Vincent placed sixth. Last but not least, Roth came in fourth on the 3-meter board, with Lamendola placing sixth.
On the men's side, Jordan Gotro led Carolina, earning a finals spot in all three disciplines. The junior finished fourth in 3-meter, sixth in 1-meter and eighth on the platform.
VINCENT POSTS OLYMPIC QUALIFYING SCORE IN RIO
Sophomore Julia Vincent competed in the 3-meter springboard diving event on Feb. 22 at the FINA Diving World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finishing with a score of 259.80. Late that night, South Carolina head diving coach Todd Sherritt was informed that the score was high enough to represent Vincent's native South Africa in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The score of 259.80 is Vincent's highest career mark in international competition. She finished 28th at the event, which included many of the top divers in the world and was held at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, site of the diving events at this summer's Olympic Games.
NIED FINDS THE PODIUM IN FIRST CONFERENCE MEET
Just a freshman, Allyson Nied represented the Gamecocks on the platform diving podium at the SEC Championships. Nied finished third in the event, with a school-record score of 283.80 in the finals.
SWIMMING PAIR SELECTED FOR NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Two members of the Carolina swimming squad have already received NCAA Championships selections, as freshman Emma Barksdale and sophomore Taylor Worrell were invited to the national meet on March 2. Barksdale will swim the 400 IM in Atlanta, with her time of 4:10.21 ranking 34th in the nation. Worrell's 4:41.67 in the 500 free is a Gamecock record and enters the national meet as the country's 28th-fastest time.
BOTH CAROLINA TEAMS END SEASON RANKED IN CSCAA TOP-25 POLLS
The South Carolina men ended the season ranked 22nd in the College Swimming Coaches Association top-25 poll, while the women ended the regular season at No. 24. It's the first time this season that the Carolina women have been ranked and the first time in history that both Gamecock squads have been ranked at the same time.
SWIMMERS EXCEL AT SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Gamecocks notched four swimming podium spots at the SEC Championships, and they combined to break eight swimming school records. Leading the way was Akaram Mahmoud, who won the 1,650-yard freestyle with a school record time of 14:35.49. Mahmoud is Carolina's first SEC men's champion since 2001, and he also finished second in the 500-yard freestyle. Tomas Peribonio joined Mahmoud on the 1650 free podium, placing third, and Nils Wich-Glasen finished third in the 200-yard breaststroke.
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 ended the regular season ranked 22nd in the CSCAA top-25 poll, and they're currently listed 20th in the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
South Carolina takes part in the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships from March 16-19, and the Men's Championships are March 23-26. Both national meets take place in Atlanta, Ga.
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