March 15, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving program embarks on the 2016 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, to be held March 16-19 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Ga. Georgia Tech will serve as host. Five Gamecocks will take part in the NCAA Women's Championships: Emma Barksdale, Lauren Lamendola, Allyson Nied, Julia Vincent and Taylor Worrell.
The Gamecocks are idle on the first day of the NCAA Championships but have participants on each of the final three days. Barksdale (200-yard IM) Worrell (500-yard freestyle), Lamendola (1-meter dive) and Vincent (1-meter dive) are in action on Thursday, March 17, while Barksdale (400-yard IM) and Worrell (200-yard freestyle) will compete on Friday, March 18 along with Lamendola and Vincent in 3-meter diving. Nied (platform dive) and Barksdale (200-yard breaststroke) take part on Saturday, March 19.
Swimming prelims begin each day at 10 a.m., while diving prelims start at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and 12:15 p.m. the final two days. The diving consolation finals begin 15 minutes after the conclusion of diving prelims, while swimming and diving finals start at 6 p.m. each day.
Updated schedules, psych sheets, live results and live video links can be found by visiting the Tournament Central page at RamblinWreck.com. Georgia Tech will stream live video of each prelims session and finals on Wednesday and Thursday. ESPN3 will stream finals sessions on the last two days.
GAMECOCK HISTORY AT THE NCAA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS
Vincent is the lone Gamecock who is back at the NCAA Championships after qualifying for the national meet in 2015. Then a freshman, Vincent finished 29th in the 3-meter, and she just missed All-America honors by one position by finishing 17th in 1-meter.
The Gamecocks have produced 66 different Women's Swimming & Diving All-Americans who have combined to win 262 All-America laurels. Allison Brennan captured an NCAA Championship in 1-meter diving in 2004, Carolina's lone national title. Swimming alum Nancy Nitardy (1978-80) is Carolina's all-time leader with 18 All-America selections across eight different events in a three-year stretch. Nitardy's teammate, Mary Ellen Breen (1978-80) collected 14 All-America selections, and Charlotte Hamilton (1977-79) was a 13-time All-American.
Carolina's most recent women's All-America honors came in 2012, when Amanda Rutqvist finished 15th in the 200-yard breaststroke and Courtney Forcucci posted finishes of 15th in the 1-meter dive and fifth in the 3-meter.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody - "Emma is already going significantly faster than she was in August, when she got here. She hit her lifetime bests mid-season without a whole lot of rest going into our meet at Georgia Tech, and she had some really big time drops at SECs. She's had an outstanding year, and I think the adaptation to training, the resources that we have here at South Carolina, and having a very structured day have helped her make a smooth transition throughout her freshman year. Her improvements have been outstanding. I think anytime anybody makes the NCAA Championships, it's a huge accomplishment. Outside of the Olympics, it's the fastest meet on the planet. To do that as a freshman while you're still trying to get acclimated to college swimming, that's pretty amazing." -- On the progress made by freshman Emma Barksdale in her first season
"Taylor is a hard worker. She got into a point mid-year, probably November or December, where she got into a training rut and some days was going through the motions. So the coaching staff pulled her aside and had a meeting and just talked to her and reminded her of the goals she set for herself. We pointed out that she wrote those goals down on paper, but wasn't training that same way. She embraced that criticism and went forward with it, and ultimately what we saw was a young lady who really got to see the results of a lot of hard work. I am very excited for her to be able to make that turnaround mid-season like she did, because she had a choice. After that meeting, she could have tuned out the staff, or she could embrace it. She chose to embrace it, and she really bore down, and I'm really happy for her." -- On Taylor Worrell's spring run to the NCAA Championships
"I think we want to see them continue to improve, and we want to see them handle that big stage well. I think if we come out with some lifetime bests, that's great. The goal is obviously to put points on the board; that's what we go for. I think if we can get some people second swims and put some points on the board, and lean on our divers and see what they can do, hopefully we'll come out alright, and we'll put more points on the board than we have in recent memory." -- On his overall expectations for the NCAA Championships
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt - "I don't think either Julia or Lauren have had their best meets yet this year, so they've got something inside of them that has yet to be seen. When that comes out, it's definitely going to be up there. Of course, my goal is to get them both into finals and get them in position to win an event. I think they're capable, but they've got to dive lights out. Of course, they had to dive lights out just to get into the NCAAs. It's going to be a challenge." -- On what he expects from springboard divers Julia Vincent and Lauren Lamendola
"We really worked hard on Allyson's lower-level mechanics and worked on foundational stuff. Any sport you're in, it comes down to fundamentals. So we worked on her foundation a lot. As she's started to go up higher, she's shown a lot of improvement, because her lower skill levels are better. She's another one that I don't think we've seen the best out of her this year. Hopefully we see that this week." -- On the rapid improvement made by freshman Allyson Nied
"If they go out there and give their optimal performance, they're going to be in the top eight. There's no question about it. They've got the skills, they've done the dives, and they've put in the time. We're hopefully going to go in there next week and do the job." -- On his goals for the NCAA Championships
A LOOK BACK
South Carolina's two NCAA Championships swimmers were officially extended bids to the national meet on March 2. Barksdale's 400 IM time of 4:10.21, swam Feb. 18 at the SEC Championships, ranks 34th-best in the nation heading into NCAAs. Worrell swam a school-record 4:41.67 at the Bulldog Last Chance Meet on Feb. 27, which ranks 28th in the nation in the 500 free.
Barskdale (200 IM and 200 breast) and Worrell (200 free) are able to swim additional events after earning NCAA "B" Cut times during the season.
The Carolina divers had to earn their way to nationals through the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, held March 7-9 at Georgia Tech. Vincent qualified for NCAAs by placing fourth in the 1-meter and ninth in the 3-meter. Lamendola placed 10th in 1-meter and eighth in 3-meter. Nied finished the meet by placing third in the platform.
GAMECOCK MEN PREP FOR NATIONALS
Seven members of the South Carolina Men's Swimming & Diving program will take part in the NCAA Championships, March 23-26 in Atlanta, Ga. The list includes swimmers Cody Bekemeyer (1650 free), Kevin Leithold (800 free relay), Akaram Mahmoud (500 free, 1650 free, 800 free relay), Fynn Minuth (800 free relay) Tomas Peribonio (400 IM, 500 free, 1650 free, 800 free relay) and Nils Wich-Glasen (100 breast, 200 breast, 800 free relay) along with diver Jordan Gotro (1-meter, 3-meter, platform). Mahmoud is the top contender of the group, as he enters the NCAAs with the second-fastest 1650 free time in the nation and the fourth-fastest time in the 500 free.
GOTRO EARNS SPOT AT U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS
Junior Jordan Gotro didn't just qualify for the NCAA Championships with his performance at NCAA Zone Diving. In the 3-meter prelims on March 7, he finished third in prelims with a score of 382.55. That score qualifies the junior for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.
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.
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 22nd in the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
South Carolina's men take the NCAA Championships stage one week after the women, with the 2016 Men's Championships scheduled for March 23-26 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
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