South Carolina Set for Season Opener with UNC
Oct. 16, 2008
COLUMBIA - With a full year now under their belts, head coach McGee Moody and his staff are ready to begin their second season at the helm of the South Carolina swimming & diving program, which opens its season Friday afternoon against North Carolina at the Carolina Natatorium in the Sol Blatt Physical Education Center. Diving begins at 3 p.m. with swimming set to commence at 4 p.m.
The Gamecocks have 30 returning swimmers from 2007-08 between the men's and women's squads, including two NCAA Championships participants and one All-SEC performer. Senior Nicholas Walkotten earned South Carolina's first All-SEC honor for a male swimmer since 2001, being named to the second-team for his finish in the 200-yard butterfly. He and junior Dominique Lendjel were the Gamecocks' two competitors in the NCAA Championships last season and look to lead South Carolina to a higher level of success in 2008-09.
Kyle Cormier, a two-time All-American who sat out the 2007-08 season, returns for his senior year after being one of the Gamecocks' top performers in 2006-07. He competed at the NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200 freestyle that season, and earned Honorable Mention All-America honors in helping the 800 freestyle relay team to an 11th-place national finish. Four other seniors - Christian Kata, Steven Luckie, Nicholas Olson and Todd Weyandt - look to help the Gamecocks climb the SEC standings in 2008-09.
On the women's side, senior Amanda Dunnigan returns as the team's leader after securing three NCAA "B" cuts and scoring six individual points at the SEC Championships last season. She is joined by Sherah Aiken and Kassy Kugler as the only seniors on a squad replete with freshmen and sophomores, a great sign for the future of the program. Two of those sophomores, twin sisters Christine Thompson and Claire Thompson, provided a major spark for the Gamecock freestylers last season as the duo had the fastest and second-fastest times in four of the six freestyle events as freshmen. The twins combined to score eight individual points at the SEC meet for their finishes in the 1,650 freestyle.
The Gamecock women will also have a returner who sat out the 2007-08 season. Junior Sharntelle McLean redshirted last season while training for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, in which she competed for her home country of Trinidad & Tobago. McLean gives the Gamecocks an extra dimension in the sprint freestyle events as she holds the third-fastest time in school history in the 50 free.
Diving coach Todd Sherritt, beginning his 16th season at South Carolina, also has plenty to be excited about. The Gamecocks return four divers (one male, three female) from last year's squad, including All-American Taryn Zack, who begins her second season at Carolina. Senior Corry Christian, sophomore Allison Barr and junior Morgan Ricke also return from the squad that was one of the highlights of the 2007-08 season.
Zack became the school's 14th different female diver to earn All-America honors with her eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in the three-meter event. She also finished 11th in the one-meter competition to earn an Honorable Mention All-America certificate. This came on the heels of winning the NCAA Zone Diving competition in the one-meter event, breaking Allison Brennan's school record with a score of 584.20 in the process.
Zack, Christian and Barr all scored points for South Carolina in the SEC Championships as Zack placed fifth in both the one- and three-meter events, Christian took an eighth-place finish and 11 points in the men's three-meter event and Barr finished seventh in the women's three-meter, scoring 12 points.
North Carolina will enter Friday's event on short rest, having swam against Georgia at home Wednesday evening. The Tar Heels fell to the Bulldogs in both the men's and women's competitions with the men falling by a slim 152-148 margin while the women lost 169-128. The Tar Heel women are ranked 12th in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America ratings while the UNC men are 14th. It will be the first meeting between the two schools in a dual meet since 1999, when the Tar Heels defeated South Carolina in both competitions.
One-meter diving gets underway at 3 p.m. with the swimming portion of the meet slated for a 4 p.m. start. Admission is free. For full coverage of Gamecock swimming & diving, visit www.GamecocksOnline.com.