Feb. 22, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Several Carolina swimmers recorded personal records and NCAA qualifying marks during day three competition at the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, hosted by the University of Alabama on Friday at the Aquatic Center. Junior Nicholas Walkotten contributed 18 combined points, claiming USC’s top times in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke.
The Carolina women are seventh in team standings with 149 points. Auburn leads with 492 followed by Florida with 476 and Georgia with 387. Auburn also leads on the men’s side with a strong 597 total, followed by Florida with 447 and Tennessee with 399. South Carolina is currently eighth with 146 points.
“We swam very well tonight,” head swimming coach McGee Moody said. “Nick Walkotten did a great job, really setting himself up for a chance at the NCAA meet. Amanda Dunnigan also did a good job today.”
Walkotten advanced in two events after preliminary rounds and contributed a total of 18 points for the Gamecocks. His premier swim of the night came in the final of the 100 butterfly. He qualified with a season-best and NCAA qualifying time of 47.39 in prelims. He matched the exact time in the finals to finish eighth and collect 11 points. He also competed in the consolation finals of the 100 backstroke, advancing with a preliminary mark of 49.15. He swam a 49.08 in the nightcap to finish 10th and contribute seven points.
Junior Amanda Dunnigan swam a 4:24.68 in her preliminary heat of the 400 IM to advance to the consolation finals. She shaved over five full seconds from her preliminary mark, finishing 12th overall with a season best and NCAA qualifier of 4:19.88. She contributed five points for the Gamecock women.
Diver Cory Christian also contributed five points for his 12th-place finish in the men’s 10-meter platform diving competition on Friday afternoon. He tallied a six-dive total of 264.25.
“Cory did a great job today on the platform,” head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. “It was a great performance for him and he did a great job.”
Five Carolina swimmers improved their top times for the season in the preliminary heats of the women’s 100-yard butterfly. Freshmen Bridget Halligan (1:00.53) and Shaylyn Blake (59.60) and seniors Diana Lopez (1:00.11) and Kelly Giese (58.69) all managed season-best marks, while sophomore Kelly Saurman (57.99) collected a personal-best in the event. Senior Christy Williams just missed a spot in the consolation final, finishing 17th (54.98) in her preliminary heat.
The 200 freestyle proved much the same, as junior Jessica VanAssen (1:51.69) and senior Heather Roffey (1:53.59) each recorded personal bests, while freshman Christine Thompson (1:49.98) recorded a season best and NCAA qualifying cut. Freshman Claire Thompson finished just outside of the finals, posting a 1:47.85 to advance to the consolation final where she finished 15th (1:48.60), collecting two points for the Gamecocks.
In preliminary heats for the men, sophomore Keith Dawley (52.11) and junior Todd Weyandt (51.04) also recorded season-bests in the 100 butterfly, junior Christian Kata (1:41.57) set a personal best in the 200 free, while senior Michael Burke (1:45.32), sophomore Joshua Klotz (1:45.94) and freshman Ryan Langley (1:44.33) each set season bests in the 200.
Competing in the final event of the night, the 400 medley relay, the Gamecock women’s team comprised of Megan Sparks, Mandee Cregar, Williams and Claire Thompson finished seventh in a time of 3:43.84, an NCAA qualifying cut. The Carolina men’s squad of Dominique Lendjel, Michael Lawrence, Walkotten and Weyandt finished eighth with a 3:22.72.
The final day of competition at the SEC Championship kicks off on Saturday with preliminary heats of the 200 backstroke, beginning at 11 a.m. ET.