Gamecock Swimming: Summer Update
July 1, 2009
While the NCAA swimming season ended with the national championships in late March, South Carolina's swimmers have been very busy over the past few months - and their hectic schedule doesn't stop anytime soon.
Beginning with the Charlotte Ultraswim in mid-May and running through the U.S. Open in August, selected Gamecock swimmers have competed or will have competed in no fewer than eight meets, ranging from sectional qualifiers to World Championships.
CHARLOTTE ULTRASWIM - May 15-17 - Charlotte, N.C.
Six Carolina swimmers competed in the first stop of the USA Swimming Grand Prix tour, turning in some solid times and representing the Gamecocks well - none more so than Kyle Cormier.
The native of Pensacola, Fla., who completed his eligibility with South Carolina at the NCAA Championships, advanced to event finals in all four events in which he competed, including the "A" finals of the 50 freestyle and the 200 IM. He earned World Championship Trials and U.S. Open qualifying times in all four of his events, but he will be unable to compete at those events due to another knee surgery.
"Ultraswim was a huge success," head coach McGee Moody said. "We had some really outstanding swims from everyone. Kyle was turning in times faster than what he swam at the Olympic Trials last year, and he wasn't even fully rested. We were planning to rest him for the World Championships, but he ended up having to have knee surgery, which is disappointing. He was swimming really, really well."
In addition, James Crawford advanced to the `C' final in both the 200 freestyle and the 200 IM. Trey Tharpe also competed for the Gamecock men, while Sharntelle McLean, Lydia Hackert and Lindsey Olson comprised the women's contingent.
PUERTO RICO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS - May 28-31 - San Juan, P.R.
Rising sophomore Isaac Badillo put together one of the best meets of his young career, winning five national championships in the 18-and-under age group at the Federación Puertorricqueña de Natación Campeonatos Nacionales. He won the national title in the 50-meter breaststroke, 50-meter butterfly (setting the national age group record), 100-meter butterfly, 100-meter backstroke, and 50-meter freestyle.
"That was a huge meet for Isaac," Moody said. "It gave him his first taste of success at the international level, which is big for him."
SCOTTISH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS - June 25-28 - Glasgow, Scotland
James Crawford, another rising sophomore and a native of England, returned to the UK to try to earn a spot on Great Britain's World Championship team. He did himself proud, setting personal records in nearly all of his events. He swam a full schedule of events, including the 100 free, 100 back, 200 IM, 200 back, 50 free and 200 free.
His best showing came in the 200 IM, where he shaved nearly four seconds off his previous personal best, turning in a time of 2:06.88 and finishing seventh overall.
"James had a really great meet over in Scotland," Moody said. "It was a great trip overall. We got a ton of exposure for our program because of how well he did in the meet. His goal right now is to try and make the Commonwealth Games team for next year, which would be huge for him."
U.S. NATIONALS/WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TRIALS - July 7-11 - Indianapolis, Ind.
Andrew Atzhorn will represent the Gamecocks at the U.S. Nationals/World Championship Trials in Indianapolis, and according to his head coach, anything is possible for this rising senior.
"We're not resting him, we're focusing on the U.S. Open," Moody said. "But watching him in practice over these last few weeks, nothing would surprise me. He's up for something special."
"Claire finished ninth at the U.S. Open Water Nationals in St. Petersburg, so she's having a pretty good summer," Moody said. "And Megan swam in a meet in Tennessee a few weeks ago, so we're excited about what they'll bring to the table come this fall."
SPEEDO CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SECTIONALS - July 15-19 - Knoxville, Tenn.
A contingent of 11 Gamecock swimmers will head to a sectional meet at the new Allan Jones Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee in mid-July, hoping to earn cut times for the U.S. Open. Representing the Gamecock men will be Armin Hornikel, Brett Sexton, David Livsey, Isaac Badillo, Ham Hollett and Trey Tharpe. For the Gamecock women, it will be Bridget Halligan, Shaylyn Blake, Kelly Kirchler, Alyssa Hand and Lydia Hackert.
"This is basically a prep meet for the U.S. Open," Moody said. "The bottom line is that we're racing."
FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - July 17-Aug. 2 - Rome, Italy
Atzhorn and several other Gamecocks will be looking to qualify for the World Championships team from the United States. But one Gamecock has already made the team for her home country. Rising senior Sharntelle McLean will represent Trinidad & Tobago in the world's second-biggest competition - second only to the Olympics. And she's been there before, too.
"This is nothing new to her," Moody said. "She told me the other day, `I'm still not where I want to be, I want to be a major player.' And she's really been working hard; I've got to give a lot of credit to (assistant coach) Steve Steketee for working with her on her 50 free. She's setting up for a good meet."
U.S. OPEN - Aug. 4-8 - Federal Way, Wash.
"People are going to take notice of Andy at this meet," Moody said. "The way he's been swimming...he's been putting up times in practice that he's never even come close to before. His goal is making finals at Olympic Trials in 2012. Once you're there, anything can happen."