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Jan. 11, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Following a lengthy break due to the holiday season, the South Carolina men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will return to the pool on Jan 12, traveling to face Davidson and Duke at 1 p.m. The tri-meet will be held at Cannon Pool on the campus of Davidson College. In the history of Gamecock swimming, the Carolina men hold a 5-2 all-time advantage over the Blue Devils and a 2-1-1 upperhand over the Wildcats. The South Carolina women are 2-0 all-time against Duke and a hold a 1-0 advantage over Davidson.

The Wildcat women entered the holiday break ranked 10th in the Division I mid-major poll. Neither Duke nor South Carolina is ranked entering weekend competition. The Blue Devils last competed on Nov. 18 at the Georgia Tech Invitational, while the Gamecocks’ last competition was at the Alabama Invitational on Dec. 2 (swimmers) and Ohio State Invitational on Nov. 30 (divers). Host Davidson has not competed since Dec. 8 at the MAC Long Course Invite at Kenyon College.

Several members of the South Carolina swimming team captured Olympic Trial and NCAA “B” cut qualifying marks competing at the Alabama Classic. In all, seven student-athletes combined for 14 NCAA qualifying times, while three achieved Olympic Trial qualifying marks.

Sophomore Dominique Lendjel led Carolina with four individual NCAA cuts. He qualified in each of the events he participated in at the Classic, including the 100 backstroke (0:47.71), the 200 backstroke (1:44.49), the 100 butterfly (0:47.88) and the 200 IM (1:46.53). Additionally, Lendjel’s 200 IM time was not only a career best, but also the fastest swim in the Southeastern Conference at that time, propelling him to the SEC Swimmer of the Week award on Dec. 4. Classmate Andrew Atzhorn also turned in a strong 200 IM effort. His 1:48.49 in the event was also an NCAA “B” cut.

For the Gamecock women, freshman Claire Thompson continued to impress during her rookie campaign. She achieved three individual NCAA “B” cuts and two Olympic Trial times. Her swims in the 200 free (1:47.20/2:02.65*), and 500 free (4:46.75/4:17.87*) were each NCAA and Olympic Trial qualifiers, while her performance in the 1650 free (16:39.44) was also an NCAA “B” cut. Twin sister Christine Thompson also qualified for NCAAs, posting a season-best time of 4:52.41 in the 500 freestyle at the Classic.

Senior butterfly specialist Christy Williams qualified for both NCAAs and the Olympic trials with a strong performance in the 100 butterfly (54.72/1:02.39*), while teammates, freshman Megan D’Urso (2:03.87) and senior Carly Hensel (2:03.92), each qualified for NCAAs in the 200 IM.

The Carolina divers also turned in a strong showing in their final competition before the break at the prestigious Ohio State Invitational. Freshman Taryn Zack posted the top Gamecock finish on the women’s one-meter event, finishing fifth with a six-dive total of 272.85. In the men’s three-meter event, junior David Ovelson again turned in the top Carolina mark, finishing 15th with a total of 291.90.

Over the holiday break, swimmer Nick Walkotten was selected to the 2008 FINA Short Course U.S. World Championship Team that will compete at the World Championships in Manchester, England, April 9-13, 2008. Walkotten will join 26 of the nation’s top swimmers, including five Olympians who will represent the United State next spring at the championship event.

Please visit for complete coverage of the weekend event.