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March 28, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – – Senior swimmer Aunya Nance has been around swimming since before she was old enough to walk. Nance was introduced to swimming by her father, Frankie Nance, who was the coach of the local swim club at Hudgens Swim Center in Anderson, S.C.

“I started swimming when I was three years old. My dad was a swim coach at Anderson Swim Club in Anderson, S.C, so I was around the swim center a lot when I was little. My dad suited me up and threw me in the water to keep an eye on me and keep me busy,” said Nance. “Some of my favorite memories are of hanging out at Hudgens Swim Center. Having my dad there and just getting to be with all the different swimmers were all good memories.”

Nance competed in her first swim meet at the tender age of four.

“My earliest memory is from one of my first meets. My first event was the 25 yard backstroke, but I was too young to really get the stroke down. My dad put me in the water and I kicked half way down the pool on my back. My dad had to drag me out. Everyone was still cheering me on, so that is one of the good, good memories I have.”

During her time with the Anderson swim club Coach Nance molded his daughter into a competent competitor and nurtured her passion for swimming.

“My dad made it a lot of fun. One of my favorite things that he used to do was that he would get us all up on the blocks and he would say `You are representing your school.’ Then he would do introductions of everyone’s different school and we would all race 25’s representing our schools. Of course, we would all try to win. I think that instilled in me the competitiveness that I bring even now to swimming. I’m still representing my school, and it’s still a lot of fun.”

When Aunya was 12-years-old her father passed away. All at once Aunya lost her father, her coach and her mentor. However, she did not give up the sport that she loved, instead she further dedicated herself to becoming the best swimmer possible. In the years since her father’s death Nance has continued to grow as a swimmer. She continued competing for the Anderson Swim Club until coming to the University of South Carolina in 2003. She was also the 2003 Palmetto State Senior Swimmer.

Moving from a small swim club to a large collegiate program was a big, but rewarding, adjustment for Nance.

“It was a huge change. Most of the kids on my club team were younger than me, but we were still a very close knit family, since we were so small. When I traveled to big meets, I was usually one of only one or two swimmers traveling. So coming here, it was a big change to have that team bonding and team camaraderie. That feeling at big meets is just unbelievable. It makes you really want to get up and do your best and represent your school.”

Since arriving at South Carolina, Auyna has been a solid contributor to the team, and cites scoring points for the team at the SEC Championships as her greatest accomplishment. Nance finished 13th in the 100 breaststroke at SECs in 2004 as a freshman. She also made the finals as a sophomore, finishing 15th in the 100 breast and 16th in the 50 freestyle.

Nance’s final competition as a Gamecock will be the USA Spring Championships, which are being held in East Meadow, N.Y., March 27-31. Nance qualified for the senior national event by swimming a 23.47 in the 50 free, at SEC time trials.

“Only probably about 20 percent of competitive swimmers make it to the senior national level, so I’m pretty excited about the competition.”

After the Spring Championships conclude Nance hopes to maintain her training regimen and see how much farther she can take her swimming career. Auyna plans to graduate with a degree in exercise science in December 2008. After graduation she would like to go to graduate school, and eventually become a physical therapist.

However, Nance won’t soon forget her time at USC or at Hudgens Swim Center.

“I’m definitely going to miss the camaraderie of my friends, teammates and coaches. I’ve enjoyed having them for support and backup. I just thank God for allowing me to be here and have that team aspect. I’m going to miss everything. I enjoy everything here.”

Nance will also always remember the man that introduced her to swimming. Although Frankie Nance never had the opportunity to physically see his daughter swim at the collegiate level, he is watching every time she jumps off the blocks. The echo of `You are representing your school,’ still resonates loudly within her as she continues to represent the University of South Carolina and her father’s memory.