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Dec. 5, 2002

Auburn, Ala. – The University of South Carolina men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams began the first day of competition at the Auburn Invitational with preliminaries this morning in three events (500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle).

Highlighting the morning activity was South Carolina’s strong start in the 50 freestyle with four Gamecock swimmers earning NCAA “B” Qualifying Standards. For the No. 22 USC women’s squad, junior Jennifer VanAssen completed the 50 freestyle with a career best time of 23.02, second in the prelims and a “B” qualifying time. Also reaching the finals tonight in the 50 free were junior Anna Nyiry (4th; 23.35), sophomore Heather Skaggs (5th; 23.41) and sophomore Carolynn McHugh (7th; 23.66). Nyiry and Skaggs also reached the “B” standard. Also finishing with season best times were freshman Haley Skaggs (12th; 23.84) and Katie Bowden (16th; 24.32). Junior Ashleigh Bastak finished 15th with a time of 24.32.

On the men’s side junior Chris McCrary placed second in the 50 free prelim for USC with a season best time of 20.17. Junior Ed Murphy finished ninth also in the 50 free with a season best time of 20.90. Also placing strong for the USC men’s squad was freshman Reid Duff (13th; 21.41), Josh Parkin (15th, 21.53) and Lir Derieg (16th; 21.55). Also qualifying for tonight’s finals was junior Tamas Szucs in the 500 freestyle with a season best time of 4:28.28. Szucs finished fifth in the prelims this morning. Tamas Bathazi placed 12th (4:34.63), Tim Farrington finished 15th (4:36.84) and Cory Conway 16th (4:37.49).

In the women’s 200 IM, junior Kristen Butler had her top time of the season and finished 10th with a finish at 2:06.24. Freshman Stephanie Margalis was 14th with a time of 2:07.01. In the men’s 200 IM, junior Brandon Buslepp reached the finals with an eighth place finish at 1:51.62, another top time for the season.

The action continues tonight at 7 p.m. ET with three heats, a final, consolation and bonus round. South Carolina is also competing against the host Auburn Tigers, Virginia and the California women’s team.