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Oct. 15, 2010

South Carolina Meet Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Live Results

By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director

Coach Moody

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina opens its 2010-11 swimming & diving season at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday with a meet at the Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville, Tenn. The Gamecock women will compete in a tri-meet with host Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky, and the Carolina men will swim against the Hilltoppers only.

The Carolina women will be meeting Vanderbilt for the fourth time with the Gamecocks holding a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series. It will be the first meeting with Western Kentucky on both the men’s and women’s sides.

South Carolina’s men have one of the youngest teams in the league with only two seniors on the roster, but the freshman and sophomore classes could hold some of the most talented athletes in recent Carolina history. Sophomore Michael Flach returns as the team’s top swimmer, having captured the bronze medal in the 500 freestyle at the 2010 SEC Championships, earning a spot on the All-Freshman team and advancing to the NCAA Championships.

Fellow sophomores Bobby Cave (breaststroke), Brooks Ross (distance free) and Matt Columbus (distance free) help headline a strong crop of underclassmen that will also include transfer Max Heinze, a 6-8 sprinter who helped set an NCAA Division II record while competing for Ouachita Baptist University in 2008-09. Carolina also welcomes six freshmen to this year’s squad, led by Spanish native Gerard Rodriguez, who specializes in sprint and IM events.

The Gamecock women will once again count on their diving corps to produce points this season, with two All-Americans in the mix for the Gamecocks. Senior Taryn Zack, a three-time All-American, leads the way for Carolina while junior Courtney Forcucci, an All-American in 2008 while a freshman at Houston, returns from a season-ending injury suffered last November. Senior Allison Barr also looks to be a scorer for the Gamecocks on all three boards.

In the pool, senior sprinter Bridget Halligan is the only non-diving SEC scorer returning for Carolina, but redshirt sophomore Lindsey Olson provides much-needed depth in the distance freestyle events as she returns from shoulder surgery last year. A bumper crop of freshmen includes Rachael Schaffer, who advanced to finals in both IM events at the 2010 USA Swimming National Championships, along with Kelly Tannhauser and Amanda Rutqvist, who all look to make an immediate impact on the Gamecocks.

The Commodores, who only field a women’s team, head into the weekend at 0-1 on the season after falling 127-96 at Southern Illinois last Saturday. Vanderbilt is led by Laura Dillon, who won the 200 butterfly against SIU and holds the school record in the breaststroke, and Jessica Echer, who won the 200 IM against the Salukis. The team does not compete in diving. Vanderbilt will host Arkansas on Friday before taking on Carolina and WKU Saturday.

Last season, the Commodores finished with a 2-8 dual meet record, 0-4 in Southeastern Conference competition. Vanderbilt defeated Centenary and Marshall during the 2009-10 season. This begins the fifth year for the Vanderbilt swimming program since reinstating the sport in 2006; the team had been disbanded in 1990.

Western Kentucky’s men and women both captured their respective Sun Belt Conference championship in 2010, securing the third consecutive league title for the women and the first since 2007 for the men. The Lady Toppers are led by senior Claire Donahue, who became the first women’s swimmer in school history to advance to finals in an event at the NCAA Championship and earned All-America status in the 100 butterfly. As a result of her finish, the Lady Toppers finished 34th at the 2010 NCAA Championships. WKU finished the women’s regular season with a 7-1-1 dual meet record.

On the men’s side, junior Greg Gerum returns as a Mid-Major Honorable Mention All-American, earning an NCAA `B’ cut in the 200 IM in winning the event at the Sun Belt Championship. Sophomore Billy Kunkel returns at the team’s top sprinter after posting a 44.91 to win the 100 free at the SBC Championship. The Hilltopper men finished last season with a 5-2 dual meet record.

Saturday’s meet gets underway at 1 p.m. ET. Live results are available by clicking the link at the top of the page, and a full recap and results will be posted as soon as possible following the meet’s conclusion on