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Feb. 19, 2003

Auburn, Ala. – South Carolina will arrive in Auburn, Ala., to compete in the 2003 Southeastern Conference Championships. In the meet they will face what coaches agree is the most competitive meet in the country. The SEC features last year’s women’s national champions, the Auburn Tigers, as well as perennial swimming and diving powerhouses Florida and Georgia. On the women’s side, the three are ranked 1-2-3 respectively by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. Alabama is ranked 20th in the same poll. On the men’s side, the SEC features five teams in the top 15. Auburn in ranked 1st, Florida 8th, Georgia 11th, Tennessee 12th and Alabama 14th.

The women have had success this year, but will be without three of their top performers in the SEC meet. Heather Skaggs, Anna Nyiry and diver Holly Hodges will not be competing in the Championships because of health problems. The women’s team was ranked as high as 19th this year. The Gamecock women will look to an intermingled squad consisting of both youth and experience to step up and have a good showing in the meet. USC needs a strong showing from junior Bronwyn Dedekind, who finished first at Alabama in the 1000 freestyle. She was followed in that event by teammates Stephanie Margalis and Katie Bowden, who finished second and third.

The men are returning all their top performers from the season. The story for the men is a junior tri-parted attack, including Chris McCrary, who has the tenth-best time in the country in the 50 freestyle. The second part of the junior attack comes from Tamas Szucs will also need a strong performance in the freestyle events to continue on a pace that will take him to the NCAA Championships. He is in the top 25 in all freestyle short-distance events except the 50 and 100, where he is in the top 50. Rounding out the attack is Lir Derieg, who is coming off an impressive win at Alabama in the 200 backstroke.

Head Diving Coach Todd Sherrit is excited about both of his squads’ chances. He said, “I think if we dive well we can take home six championships. We have some divers that are coming off great wins. Tracey Richardson just left England with the Senior Nationals title, and Andy [Bradley] is having a great year. He has been all but dominant and if he dives well, there aren’t many people in the country that can touch him.” Bradley hold the top scores in the SEC for dual meet competition in both the 1- and 3- meter springboards. Three Gamecock women hold the first, second, third and fourth best scores in the SEC in dual meets. Lauren King, Allison Brennan, Hodges and Richardson are the score-holders in the 1-meter. In the 3-meter, King, Richardson and Brennan hold the 2 – 4 spots.

Wednesday, Feb. 19 will be the first day of competition. The schedule for Wednesday is as follows:

10:00 a.m. – Men’s 1-meter preliminaries

1:30 p.m. – Women’s 3-meter prelims

6:00 p.m. – Men’s 1-meter finals

6:30 p.m. – 200 Medley Relay Final

7:00 p.m. – Women’s 3-meter final

7:30 p.m. – 800 Freestyle Relay Final