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July 17, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Nine South Carolina swimmers recently competed at the 2008 United States Olympic Trial competition at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., where the majority of Gamecock affiliated competitors achieved career-best marks in their respective event. sat down with second-year head swimming coach McGee Moody to talk about the experience.

“Our swimmers had one of the best cumulative meets that we’ve had since I’ve been at South Carolina,” Moody commented. “We had some swimmers who trained here on campus for the trials, while we had others that trained at home with their club teams, so all of our competitors that were able to swim swam very well. We had a much higher percentage in terms of time drops for Gamecock student-athletes than the meet average, meaning the overall average for time drops was 45 percent, while our swimmers had a nearly 93 percent time drop for each of their events. And not only were they lifetime bests, they were significant drops in time.”

Entering the competition, rising senior Kyle Cormier, who had spent the summer months training on campus in the Carolina Natatorium, had made significant strides in his training. Cormier, who redshirted last season to train specifically for the Olympic Trials, competed in the 100 and 200 freestyle and the 200 individual medley. Cormier dropped an average of nearly one second on his 100 freestyle time, while he averaged an impressive one and one half seconds in both the 200 free and 200 IM events.

“Kyle had an outstanding meet,” Moody said. “The amount of time that he dropped, coupled with how many events he swam was very impressive.”

Rising sophomores Claire Thompson (200/400 freestyle) and Megan Sparks (100 backstroke) each collected lifetime bests in their respective events, while rising junior Andy Atzhorn (200 IM) and rising senior Amanda Dunnigan (400 IM) each achieved personal-best marks at the Trials. Christy Williams, who ended a celebrated Gamecock career last spring, shaved nearly a second off her personal best in the 100 butterfly, while incoming freshmen Rory Grigull (100 freestyle) and Lindsey Olson (100/200 butterfly, 200 freestyle) kicked off their Gamecock careers at the event.

“Some of our swimmers went home this summer to train with their club teams and club coaches, who really know them as well as we do here at Carolina having trained them their entire lives prior to college,” Moody said. “We had good faith that they would train hard and follow the regiment that their coaches provided them for this specific event, and it was obvious that all of our swimmers trained extremely hard during the months leading up to Trials.”

A familiar name throughout last season to Gamecock swimming fans, Nick Walkotten, who qualified to compete in the 100 and 200 butterfly and the 100 backstroke at Trials, became ill at the meet and was unable to swim arguably his best event in the 200 butterfly. His training times throughout the summer were, as it turned out, among the best in the country.

Listed below is the complete list of Gamecock competitors, along with their events and Trial times. (Note, all times are in a 50-meter pool)

Andy Atzhorn
200 IM, 2:06.02

Kyle Cormier
100 freestyle, 60.44
200 freestyle, 1:51.06
200 IM, 2:05.53

Amanda Dunnigan
400 IM, 4:53.81

Rory Grigull
100 freestyle, 52.01

Lindsey Olson
100 butterfly, 1:01.75
200 butterfly, 2:17.49
200 freestyle, 2:04.41

Claire Thompson
200 freestyle, 2:02.08
400 freestyle, 4:16.99

Megan Sparks
100 backstroke, 1:03.45

Nick Walkotten
100 butterfly, 55.99
200 butterfly, DNS
100 backstroke, 57.76

Christy Williams
100 butterfly, 1:01.51