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Aug. 7, 2010

By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director

IRVINE, Calif. – A 10th-place showing in the 800-meter freestyle relay highlighted what has been a highly successful week for a group of Gamecock swimmers at the USA Swimming ConocoPhillips National Championships, which completed their fourth day on Friday.

The team of recent graduate Andy Atzhorn, rising sophomore Brooks Ross, rising junior Chris Kelly and rising sophomore Michael Flach posted a time of 7:40.35 to finish 10th against one of the strongest fields in the sport, earning 14 points for their team score. Flach provided the highlight of the night for the Gamecocks with a closing split of 1:51.87, one of the fastest splits among all entrants, to boost the team to the top-10 finish.

Several other Gamecocks – past, present and future – have given a strong account of themselves this week as well. Flach kicked off the week Tuesday by earning a spot in the `C’ final of the 400-meter freestyle, posting a time of 3:55.59 in the preliminaries. He would finish 21st overall, swimming a 3:57.17 in the final.

On Thursday, incoming freshman Rachael Schaffer posted a 15th-place finish in the 400 individual medley, swimming a 4:47.93 in preliminaries with her finals time being just a tick slower. Her prelims time, if converted to the short-course yards format that is typical in college swimming, would shatter the existing South Carolina school record by more than three seconds.

Nick Walkotten, a 2009 graduate, also made a consolation final in the 100 butterfly, finishing 16th with a time of 54.06. He had also competed earlier in the week in the 100 backstroke, posting a 57.74.

Earlier on Friday, Ross improved on his career-best long-course time in the 1500 by nearly seven seconds with a time of 15:50.37, earning 39th place overall. Also competing on Friday was Atzhorn, who posted a 2:06.79 in the 200 IM. Former Gamecock Kyle Cormier swam in the 100 free and 200 free during the week, posting good times as well; Kelly also swam in the 200. For the Carolina women, Bridget Halligan competed in the 50 freestyle earlier in the week.

The meet wraps up Saturday with prelims beginning at noon ET and finals slated for a 9 p.m. start. NBC Sports will air highlights from the week in two separate shows, from 4-6 p.m. Saturday and 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday.