Oct. 29, 2010
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina got three wins each from freshman Rachael Schaffer and sophomore Michael Flach, and the Gamecock divers dominated both boards on Friday night, leading to a sweep of the Clemson Tigers at the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium. Carolina’s men earned a 169.5-125.5 victory while the women took down the Tigers 167-133.
Carolina’s men improved to 2-0 while the Gamecock women moved to 3-0 on the year. Clemson’s men and women both fell to 1-1. The largest crowd in recent memory filled the Carolina Natatorium stands to over capacity; officials estimated the attendance to be near 1,000.
The Gamecock diving corps provided a stellar effort in the meet, winning all four diving events and sweeping the top three spots in three of the four. Sophomore Rylan Ridenour was the standout for Carolina, running away with victories on both the 1- and 3-meter boards. He posted a 312.30 on the 1-meter board to win by 74.63 points, and his score of 407.17 on the 3-meter board fell a scant 0.23 points short of the South Carolina school record of 407.40, held by Andy Bradley. Nikolas Sachs took second on the 3-meter and fourth on the 1-meter, while freshman Andrew Helmich was third on both boards.
In women’s diving, senior Taryn Zack took top honors on the 1-meter board with a score of 313.73 for her first win of the year, and teammate Courtney Forcucci edged Zack out on the 3-meter board by a 367.80-360.75 margin. Zack, Forcucci and Allison Barr took the top three spots on both women’s boards, with sophomore transfer Chay Malvasio earning fourth place on the 3-meter board with an NCAA Zone qualifying score of 321.60.
Despite dropping the opening relays for the second straight meet, Carolina put on a similarly impressive performance in the pool, winning nine of 14 men’s events and seven of 14 on the women’s side.
Sophomore Michael Flach continued his winning ways, touching first in all three of his individual events and swimming the leadoff leg of the victorious 400 freestyle relay team. Flach started off his night with a win in the 200 freestyle (1:38.68), out-touching teammate Gerard Rodriguez by 0.48 seconds. He also got a close win in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:50.05, and then dominated the field in the 500 freestyle with a 4:31.39, more than four seconds faster than teammates Brooks Ross (4:35.90) and Matt Columbus (4:36.65).
Ross was outstanding in the 1000 freestyle, lowering his career-best time by nearly seven seconds with a 9:16.84 to blow away the field. Columbus was second in 9:25.22, a lifetime best for the sophomore by more than 14 seconds.
Bobby Cave swept both breaststroke events, winning the 200 breast in 2:02.81 to lead a Gamecock sweep along with Collin Kaden and Ryan Connolly. Cave also took top honors in the 100 breast with a time of 56.87 to out-touch teammate Andrew Seiler. Junior Chris Kelly, who was named SEC Swimmer of the Week for his effort against Western Kentucky two weeks ago, earned another win with a 1:49.94 in the 200 backstroke. He finished third in the 100 back, and also posted a strong time in the 200 IM. Junior Isaac Badillo earned the team’s other individual win, clocking a 50.28 in the 100 butterfly. And even though it was swam as an exhibition with the outcome of the meet already decided, the 400 free relay team of Flach, Seiler, Rodriguez and Alex Fitton posted the top time of 3:02.57.
On the women’s side, freshman Rachael Schaffer remained undefeated in individual events with wins in the 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly and 200 IM. She led a 1-2 finish with Whitney Avers in the 200 fly with a 2:02.65, then out-touched teammate Amanda Rutqvist by .10 seconds in the 200 breast with a 2:16.45. She finished off her 3-for-3 night with a four-second victory in the 200 IM in 2:03.67. Rutqvist, meanwhile, took top honors in the 100 breast with a runaway win in 1:03.62.
Sophomore Lindsey Olson was again a perfect 2-for-2 in the distance freestyle events, lowering her personal-best by eight seconds in the 1000 free with a 10:11.43. She went 4:58.04 in the 500 free to get her fourth win of the young season. And senior Bridget Halligan earned a win in the 50 free, posting a strong 23.34 to get her third victory of the year.
Carolina improved to 38-31-1 all time against Clemson in men’s competition; the Gamecock women moved to 20-16 against the Tigers. It was the final time that the Gamecocks would have the opportunity to face Clemson at home; the Tigers are dropping their swimming & diving program following the 2011-12 season, and Carolina will swim at the McHugh Natatorium one final time next season. In addition, it was South Carolina’s first meet in the newly renovated Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium, and athletic director Eric Hyman and executive associate AD Kevin O’Connell were recognized by the Gamecock coaching staff for their efforts in the renovation project.
South Carolina will return to the pool next Friday, Nov. 5, as the Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville, Ark. The Carolina women will swim Arkansas and Missouri, and the Gamecock men will compete against the Tigers only.