Oct. 16, 2010
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – South Carolina got great performances across the board – from rookies and upperclassmen alike – as the Gamecock swimmers and divers sprinted past Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky on Saturday.
The Carolina women downed Vanderbilt 252-43 and took care of WKU 195-104 while the Gamecock men were quite impressive in a 203-97 victory over the Hilltoppers. South Carolina’s women improved to 2-0 overall (1-0 SEC) while the Carolina men start the season 1-0 for the second straight year.
Between the two teams, the Gamecocks won 24 of 32 events on the day and were never seriously threatened after the opening relay. The distance corps on both the men’s and women’s teams – as well as the diving squads – were the catalysts as both teams earned big points in those events.
Sophomore Lindsey Olson, who sat out the 2009-10 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, made the most of her return to competition with wins in both the 500- and 1000-yard freestyle events. She clocked a 10:19.12 in her first career attempt at the 1000, then outpaced freshman teammate Abby Galbreath by two seconds with a 5:04.35 in the 500 free, leading a sweep of the top four spots in the race.
Freshmen Rachael Schaffer and Amanda Rutqvist were as advertised, with Schaffer winning the 200 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley with Rutqvist taking top honors in the 100 breast. Schaffer clocked a 2:16.16 in the 200 breast, edging out Rutqvist by .6 seconds, while Rutqvist outpaced Schaffer in the 100 breast with a 1:03.47 to Schaffer’s 1:04.14. In the 200 IM, it was all Schaffer as she clocked a 2:03.17, winning by more than five seconds over Rutqvist. The times by both Gamecocks in the breaststroke events easily surpassed the season bests by Carolina swimmers last season.
Senior Bridget Halligan opened the season in a strong fashion, winning both sprints and helping the 400 free relay team to victory in the day’s final event. Halligan posted a 23.70 in the 50 free to win going away, and came back with a 52.61 in the 100 free to lead a Carolina sweep. Freshman Kelly Tannhauser won her first collegiate race with a 1:53.45 in the 200 free, then took second in the 100 free and third in the 500 free while helping the 400 FR team to victory. And senior Megan Sparks picked up the other swimming win for the Gamecocks, touching first in the 100 backstroke in 57.91 seconds. The 400 freestyle relay team of Tannhauser, Lauren Raczkowski, Shaylyn Blake and Halligan closed out the meet with a win, posting a time of 3:32.43.
On the men’s side, it was sophomore Bobby Cave earning a pair of wins in the breaststroke events and junior Chris Kelly sweeping the backstroke swims to lead Carolina on this day. Cave posted a 56.83 in the 100 breast then came back with a 2:04.92 in the 200 breast, continuing his dominance in those events. Kelly, meanwhile, posted a 51.45 in the 100 back and a 1:50.77 in the 200 back to lead strong performances across the board by the Gamecock backstrokers.
Sophomore Michael Flach took top honors in the 200 butterfly, winning by nearly three full seconds with a 1:50.61 in his first swim of the year. Flach also teamed with James Crawford, Andrew Seiler and Gerard Rodriguez to win the closing event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, in 3:05.21. Fellow sophomore Brooks Ross led a Gamecock sweep in the 1000 free, posting a career-best time of 9:23.67 to earn big points for Carolina along with Matt Columbus and Dan Jackson. Columbus touched first in the 500 free (4:36.63), followed by Ross and Jackson.
In the diving well, it was all South Carolina as junior Courtney Forcucci made a successful return with wins on both the 1- and 3-meter boards. Forcucci scored a 297.90 to lead a Carolina sweep on the 1-meter board, then posted a 329.85 on the 3-meter to once again pace a Gamecock 1-2-3 finish. Both scores were NCAA Zone qualifying marks, as were Taryn Zack’s 277.14 on the 1-meter board and Allison Barr’s 284.17 (1M) and 295.27 (3M).
Sophomore Rylan Ridenour led the Gamecock men’s divers with wins on both boards, scoring a 366.90 on the 3-meter board to easily eclipse the NCAA Zone qualifying mark, followed by another qualifying score of 345.97 on the 1-meter board. Freshman Andrew Helmich took second on the 3-meter board with a 299.25, while sophomore Nikolas Sachs was second on the 1-meter board with a 298.20.
South Carolina will open the home portion of the 2010-11 season on Friday, Oct. 29, with a 5 p.m. dual meet against archrival Clemson at the Blatt P.E. Center.