Nov. 18, 2010
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – South Carolina sophomore Michael Flach led a strong opening morning of the Nike Cup Invitational as he recorded the nation’s fastest time this season in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday. The Gamecocks overall put together an impressive showing in the first round of preliminaries, advancing 20 swimmers to this evening’s finals.
Flach was phenomenal in the 500 freestyle, posting the top time in the country so far this year – nearly four full seconds faster than the previous top time (4:23.98 by Southern Cal’s Clement Lefert) and five full seconds faster than the second-place finisher – and earned his first NCAA `B’ cut time of the season with a 4:20.03. It was his second straight year to post a national top time in the 500 free at the end-of-fall meet; he swam a 4:22.78 in last year’s Gamecock Invitational preliminaries.
Fellow sophomore Brooks Ross went 4:29.02 to post a personal-best time in the 500 free and earn sixth place, advancing to the championship final as well. A third sophomore, Matt Columbus, will swim the C-final after a 4:35.70.
In the 200 IM, three Gamecocks advanced to the championship final as Collin Kaden posted a personal-record 1:51.44 to earn the fourth seed. James Crawford was seventh in 1:52.31, and Gerard Rodriguez took eighth in 1:52.40. Chris Kelly earned his way into the B-final with a 1:53.06, and Bobby Cave (1:54.81) and Ryan Connolly (1:56.09) will swim the C-final.
Sophomore Andrew Seiler turned in an impressive performance in the 50 freestyle, clocking a personal-best 20.75 to earn the No. 8 seed in the championship final tonight. Senior Brett Sexton earned his way into the C-final with a 21.27, and sophomore Max Heinze barely missed a finals appearance with a 21.31, one-hundredth of a second behind the 24th-place finisher.
On the women’s side, freshman Rachael Schaffer continued her strong performances with a 2:03.89 in the 200 IM to take eighth place and advance to the championship final. Fellow freshman Kelly Tannhauser posted strong butterfly and freestyle legs to finish ninth with a 2:04.68 and lead the field in the B-final, and Amanda Rutqvist, Abby Galbreath and Haley Staubach all posted times to qualify for the C-final.
Senior Bridget Halligan went 23.62 in the 50 freestyle prelims to earn the eighth spot in tonight’s championship, and senior Megan Sparks will swim the C-final after posting a 24.24. Sophomore Whitney Avers led the Gamecock women’s contingent in the 500 freestyle with a 4:59.99; she will swim in the B-final. Sophomore Jordan Gibbs will compete in the C-final after a season-best time of 5:04.90.
Thursday’s preliminaries get underway at 6 p.m. at the Koury Natatorium on the UNC campus. Live results are available at tarheelblue.com.