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Jan. 25, 2006

Columbia, SC – The South Carolina men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams return to action on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 12:30 p.m. hosting Alabama and Georgia in a triangular meet competition at the Carolina Natatorium. The seniors will be honored in a ceremony preceding Saturday’s meet.

“This is the final regular season meet for the seniors, making it very emotional,” said USC head swimming coach Don Gibb. “Both teams should come out with intense energy. This meet will give us a good idea what to expect in the SEC Championships. The women are deep right now and I think they will give a great performance this weekend.”

“Both diving teams have done very well this season,” said USC head diving coach Todd Sherritt. “We have been working hard on strength training the past few weeks and the men and women both are exemplifying their workouts on the boards. I am excited going into this meet. This will give us a good idea of what to expect at SEC Championships.”

The Gamecocks will compete for the first time this season against conference rival Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s swimming and diving teams, both the men and women, started the season ranked 23rd in the coaches’ poll. The Crimson Tide men were 14th at last year’s NCAA Championships, and return five All-Americans, including defending NCAA 200 breaststroke champion Vlad Polyakov. The women finished 21st place last season and returned four All-Americans.

The Lady Bulldogs will be a tough rival too, as they are ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Lady Bulldogs’ senior class is 36-1 and won the 2005 national championship.

Although each team has a great battle this weekend, the Gamecocks look to regain composure after Kentucky last week. Saturday’s meet will run in a 16 event order, presenting all distances and all strokes. On the diving side, the event will run similar to the SEC Championship format.

All three men’s divers have qualified for the NCAA Zones competition in March with David Ovelson the top scorer on the one-meter and Ian Balman the leader on the three-meter board. Ovelson competed strong at Kentucky winning the three-meter with 379.13 points and the one-meter with 335.70 points. His three-meter finish was a season best.

The Gamecock women look to be ready to compete at the highest level at both the SEC and NCAA Championships. Senior diver Allison Brennan has proven to be one of the best in the nation with an undefeated record in the one meter. Brennan and Tracey Richardson have qualified for the NCAA Zones and figure to be among the contenders for SEC and NCAA titles. Brennan won the NCAA championship on the one-meter in 2004 and Richardson earned an SEC championship back in 2003 on the three-meter board.

Senior co-captain Haley Skaggs is finishing off her career with strong performances in the sprint freestyle events. Skaggs owns the fastest time on the team in the 100 freestyle (51.26) with the second fastest in the 50 freestyle (23.65) and 200 freestyle (1:49.89). Sophomore Christy Williams has been a key component in both the freestyle and butterfly events. Williams has hit three NCAA individual “B” standards in the 200 freestyle and 100 and 200 butterfly. Her time of 1:59.12 in the 200 butterfly bested the school record she set last season as a freshman at the SEC Championships.

Saturday’s meet will be the last competition for Carolina before they head to Knoxville, Tenn. for the SEC Championships February 15.

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