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Oct. 19, 2010

By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s swimming & diving team nearly swept the Southeastern Conference’s weekly awards, as freshmen Rachael Schaffer and Gerard Rodriguez, sophomore Rylan Ridenour and juniors Courtney Forcucci and Chris Kelly all earned SEC Athlete of the Week honors, the league office announced Tuesday.

Schaffer added to her list of weekly awards as she was named SEC Female Freshman of the Week for a breakout performance in her initial collegiate meet. Schaffer, a native of Baltimore, Md., won two events in the meet – the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley – and finished second in the 100 breaststroke. In the 200 breast, she posted the sixth-fastest time in school history with a clocking of 2 minutes, 16.16 seconds, to earn an NCAA provisional qualifying mark in her initial collegiate meet. Her 200 IM time of 2:03.17 also ranks as the sixth-fastest in school history, and her 1:04.14 in the 100 breast gives her the 10th-best all-time South Carolina mark in that event. Her 200 breast time also currently rates as the eighth-fastest time in the country so far this season and the fastest in the SEC. Schaffer was previously named South Carolina’s AgSouth Athlete of the Week on Monday.

Forcucci was named SEC Female Diver of the Week after winning both the 1- and 3-meter competitions in Saturday’s meet. She posted NCAA Zone qualifying scores in both events, scoring 297.90 on the 1-meter board and 329.85 in the 3-meter event. It was Forcucci’s first collegiate competition since suffering a broken leg during training last November. She earns SEC Diver of the Week honors for the second time; she was also honored following the Gamecocks’ meet with North Carolina and Virginia Tech last October.

Carolina swept the men’s weekly awards, beginning with Kelly, the SEC Male Swimmer of the Week. A junior from Morristown, Tenn., Kelly won two races in the Gamecock victory over Western Kentucky, clocking a 51.45 in the 100 backstroke and a 1:50.77 in the 200 back. He also earned third place with a clocking of 1:54.50 in the 200 individual medley. It was the second time in Kelly’s career to win two events in the same dual meet.

Ridenour, a sophomore from Lebanon, Ind., captured the SEC Male Diver of the Week award after a 1- and 3-meter sweep of his own Saturday. Ridenour lapped the field in his 3-meter win, scoring 366.90 to win by 67 points, then posted a 345.97 in the 1-meter event to win by nearly 50 points over the nearest competitor. Ridenour’s 1-meter score is currently the best in the Southeastern Conference.

Rounding out the weekly honorees is Rodriguez, who was named the SEC Male Freshman of the Week. Rodriguez, a native of Badalona, Spain, won his first collegiate race with a 1:39.51 in the 200 freestyle, the fifth-fastest time in the country so far this season. It was also faster than all but one Gamecock swimmer from the 2009-10 season. He took second place with a clocking of 46.47 in the 100 freestyle, and helped the 400 freestyle relay team to victory in the final race of the day in 3:05.21.

The other SEC weekly honor went to Tennessee’s Kelsey Floyd, who was named the SEC Female Swimmer of the Week after her performance against Arkansas on Saturday.

The Gamecocks begin their 2010-11 home season on Friday, Oct. 29, with the annual rivalry showdown against Clemson. The meet is slated to begin at 5 p.m. at the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium.