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Championship Notes Championship Central

Feb. 19, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina swimming and diving teams travel to the University of Alabama this week to compete in the 2008 SEC Championship Meet, held at the Alabama Aquatic Center, Feb. 20-23. Competition begins Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET with the women’s one-meter and men’s three-meter preliminary diving events.

The Gamecock men concluded the regular season with a 1-8 record, including a 0-5 mark in SEC competition. The Carolina women enter weekend action with a 4-6 overall record, including a 1-4 league tally.

A Look: Gamecock Swimmers
Led by first-year head coach McGee Moody, the University of South Carolina enters SEC Championship competition following a two-week hiatus to prepare for the event. Keep and eye on senior butterfly specialist Christy Williams and freshman twin freestyle aces Claire and Christine Thompson. All three have provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships, while Claire Thompson and Williams have also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Sophomores Dominique Lendjel and Nicholas Walkotten lead the Gamecock men into the championship season. Each has qualified for NCAAs.

A Look: Gamecock Divers
Veterans Corry Christian and David Ovelson lead the Gamecock men on the boards, while a strong freshman class, including Allison Barr and Taryn Zack anchor the Carolina women. Zack has proved victorious on both the one- and three-meter boards in her last two events. The Gamecocks look for her momentum and the strength of the team for a strong finish at SECs.

The Alabama Aquatic Center
The Aquatic Center’s main competition pool is 25-yards by 50-meters and is 6.5 feet deep at its shallowest point, 18 feet at its deepest. When set up for long course competition, the pool boasts nine-foot wide lanes, and when set up for short course, the pool can accommodate up to 17 nine-foot wide lanes. The main pool has four diving boards, two one-meter and two three-meter, and a five and ten-meter platform off which the divers compete. The main competition venue seats 1,500.

Success For The Gamecocks At The Aquatic Center
The Carolina swimmers competed at the Alabama Classic in late November, and saw excellent times at the Aquatic Center. In fact, several members of the Gamecock squads posted NCAA provisional and Olympic Trial Cuts at the event.

Solid Start To Carolina Career
Freshman swimmer Claire Thompson has quickly emerged as one of the SEC’s strongest mid- and distance freestyle specialists. She owns Carolina’s top times in the 100 (50.95), 200 (1:47.20), 500 (4:46.75), 1,000 (10:03.95) and 1,650 (16:39.44) freestyle events, while her top marks in the 200, 500 and 1,650 are all NCAA provisional qualifiers. She has also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200 and 500.

Senior Leadership
Senior butterfly specialist Christy Williams has continued to post strong numbers for the Gamecocks in her final season in Columbia. She owns USC’s top times in the 100 (54.72) and 200-yard (2:00.70) butterfly events, both NCAA provisonal qualifiers. Aiming for a post-graduate career in the sport, she has also captured an Olympic Trial Cut in the 100 butterfly.

In Sweeping Fashion
Sophomore Dominique Lendjel has been the leader in the pool for the Gamecock men this season. He has claimed the team’s top times in five events this season, including NCAA qualifiers in the 100 backstroke (47.71), 200 backstroke (1:44.49), 100 butterfly (0:47.88), 200 IM (1:46.53) and as the lead-off in the 400 freestyle relay. Lendjel was also named the SEC Swimmer of the Week in December.

A Welcomed Addition
Sophomore Nicholas Walkotten, a transfer from Indiana University, has been a strong addition to the Gamecock lineup in several events this season. He holds the team’s top times in the 100 and 200 butterfly events. His 200 mark was an NCAA qualifier. Earlier this season, Walkotten was chosen to compete on the 2008 FINA Short Course U.S. World Championship Team that will compete at the World Championships in Manchester, England, April 9-13, 2008.