Gamecocks, Tigers Set for Swimming Showdown
Oct. 30, 2008
COLUMBIA - No matter the sport or season, it's always a big deal when South Carolina and Clemson hook up. Friday's swimming and diving dual meet at the Carolina Natatorium is no exception as the hated rivals prepare to do battle in the pool with diving set to begin at 4 p.m. with the swimming portion of the meet commencing at 5 p.m.
South Carolina, which is 0-2 in both men's and women's dual meet competition, leads the all-time series with the Tigers in dual meet competition on both the men's and women's side. The Gamecock men are 32-12 all-time against the school from upstate while the women hold an 18-13 edge in head-to-head competition. Last season, the teams split a dual meet at Clemson with the Tigers getting a 206-97 win in the men's competition while the Gamecock women prevailed on the road by a 157-143 score.
Thus far, diving has been the Gamecocks' strongest area as South Carolina has earned three of the four possible Southeastern Conference Diver of the Week awards thus far in the 2008-09 season. Freshman Helen Alvey and senior Corry Christian earned the most recent female and male honors, respectively, after last week's performance in Carolina's home dual meet with Virginia. Alvey took the one-meter title in only her second collegiate competition while Christian swept the men's events with NCAA Zone qualifying scores in both the one- and three-meter events. Sophomore Taryn Zack has also earned the SEC's top honor, getting the nod last week after her winning efforts in both disciplines against North Carolina on Oct. 17.
The Gamecock swimmers will look to get another strong performance from not only their senior leaders, but also from several freshmen who have stepped up their efforts early on in their Carolina careers. Senior Kyle Cormier, who sat out last season, has made an immediate impact upon his return as he holds the top times on the team in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle swims. Fellow upperclassman and All-SEC performer Nicholas Walkotten has taken command in his best event, holding the top time on the team and the second-fastest time in the conference so far in the 100 butterfly with a 49.10 against Virginia last week.
Freshmen James Crawford and Armin Hornikel have been solid for the Gamecocks in the backstroke and breaststroke events, respectively. Crawford has the fastest Carolina swims in both backstroke events and has provided a great leadoff leg in the medley relays while Hornikel has been the Gamecocks' best swimmer in the breaststroke through two meets.
On the women's side. Sharntelle McLean has shown off her speed in the 50 and 100 freesyle, holding the fifth-best time in the SEC in the 50 free thus far. As for the other freestyle events, Claire and Christine Thompson are the ones to watch for South Carolina as the twin sophomores lead the way in the distance swims. Sophomore Megan Sparks has turned in the Gamecocks' best swims in the backstroke events, and senior Amanda Dunnigan continues to be a force in the breaststroke, having turned in the fourth-best time in the league in the 200 breast (2:18.15). Dunnigan also has the Gamecocks' top time in the 200 individual medley, a 2:04.92 which ranks fifth in the SEC. Freshman Lindsey Olson has picked up several wins in the butterfly events and holds the fifth-best time in the league with her 2:01.06 in the 200 fly against North Carolina.
Clemson enters the meet with their men's team 1-2 with a win over Davidson and losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia. The Tiger women are 2-1 against the same competition with their wins coming against the Wildcats and Yellow Jackets.
Admission is free to all South Carolina home swim meets at the Carolina Natatorium in the Sol Blatt Physical Education Center. For Friday's meet, the first 100 fans will receive a free "Beat Clemson" t-shirt. For fans that can't make it to the pool, live results will be available via SportsTiming through GamecocksOnline.com.
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