Jan. 21, 2011
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
GREENVILLE, N.C. – South Carolina’s swimming & diving team got a trio of record-breaking swims and had the top times in 24 of 28 events as the men and women earned a victory over East Carolina on Friday. The 23rd-ranked Carolina men won by a score of 163.5-128.5, while the Gamecock women took a 168-128 decision.
Sophomore Michael Flach came up big in the meet, setting the Menges Aquatic Center record in the 1000-yard freestyle – a race he was swimming for the first time this season and only the third time in his collegiate career – with a 9:17.77 to win by more than six seconds. It was a career-best time for Flach by more than 10 seconds and broke the ECU pool record that had stood for more than 17 years. In addition, his time ranks as the fifth-fastest 1000-yard freestyle swim in South Carolina history, just behind classmate Brooks Ross’ fourth-ranked time of 9:16.84 from earlier this season.
Flach was undefeated on the day, posting victories in the 200 butterfly (1:48.86) and 500 freestyle (4:32.31) and anchoring the 400 freestyle relay team of Alex Fitton, Brett Sexton, Gerard Rodriguez and himself to a first-place time of 3:06.45, despite the Gamecocks swimming exhibition in the last three events of the meet.
Another record swim came in the opening event of the meet. The women’s 200 medley relay team of Megan Sparks, Amanda Rutqvist, Bridget Halligan and Lauren Raczkowski got the afternoon off to a strong start with a 1:45.59 to eke out a victory over the top ECU relay squad by .30 seconds. The time broke ECU’s pool record, which had been set last week by the same Pirate squad that finished second today.
Rutqvist had a second record-breaking swim, this one an individual effort in the 200 breaststroke. Her time of 2:17.38, while far from a season-best, broke a 16-year-old record at the Menges Aquatic Center and led the Gamecocks to a 1-2 finish in that event (Rachael Schaffer clocked a 2:21.39). It was part of an undefeated day for the freshman from Sweden as she also took top honors in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.49) and 200 IM (2:08.69). Schaffer was also the runner-up in the 100 breast while earning a win of her own in the 100 butterfly with a time of 57.10.
Sophomore Whitney Avers continued to put together strong performances for Carolina with a pair of victories in the meet. She took first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:54.17, barely missing a personal-best, and earned her third straight win in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:05.63. Senior Bridget Halligan also earned a pair of individual sprint victories in addition to her relay effort. She was the fastest in the 50 freestyle with a 23.38, then came back to take top honors in the 100 free with a 52.12.
Other swimming wins by the women included freshman Abby Galbreath’s first collegiate victory as she posted a 10:18.29 to win the 1000 freestyle, just ahead of teammate Jordan Gibbs (10:25.81). Sophomore Lindsey Olson rounded out the wins for Carolina with a triumph in the 500 free, posting a 5:04.31 to edge out teammate Kelly Tannhauser, who swam a season-best 5:05.74. Sophomore Chay Malvasio was the lone diver to compete for the Gamecocks on Friday, and she took runner-up honors on both the 1- and 3-meter boards.
In the men’s meet, it was all Carolina as the Gamecock men had the top time in 13 of 14 swimming events. The 200 medley relay squad kicked things off with a 1-2 sweep, a first this season. The `A’ team of Max Heinze, Bobby Cave, John Metts and Sexton took the with with a 1:34.93, and the `B’ squad of Jay Warner, Andrew Seiler, Rodriguez and Fitton was close behind in 1:35.12.
Rodriguez, the freshman from Spain, had yet another outstanding meet, earning a pair of individual wins for the third straight meet. He rolled to victory in the 200 freestyle with a 1:40.76, leading a 1-2 finish with Matt Columbus in second place (1:44.19). He then led a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 freestyle, posting a 47.01, while Andrew Seiler was second (47.47) and Rory Grigull took third (47.77).
For the fifth time this year, Cave earned a sweep of the breaststroke events, winning the 100 breast with a 58.20 and taking the top spot in the 200 breast with a 2:07.67. Cave also posted the top time in the 200 IM with a 1:56.38, edging out teammate Chris Kelly’s 1:56.38. Kelly, however, remained undefeated in the 200 backstroke in dual-meet competition with a 1:52.21, and was runner-up to sophomore Max Heinze in the 100 back with a 52.20. Heinze swam a 51.16 to earn the win.
Senior Brett Sexton had one of the best meets of his four-year Carolina career. In addition to the two aforementioned relay victories, he earned his first career individual win in the 50 free with a time of 21.73. The Gamecocks’ other win on the day came from sophomore diver Nikolas Sachs, who earned his first career 3-meter victory with a 317.03.
South Carolina’s men improved to 8-0 on the season with the victory in their first meeting with ECU since 1984. The Gamecock women are now 6-4 overall, as both teams have now eclipsed their highest single-season win totals under fourth-year head coach McGee Moody.
The Gamecocks will remain in the Tar Heel State for one more day as they make the short drive south from Greenville to Wilmington. Carolina will face UNC Wilmington in dual-meet action on Saturday at the Seahawk Natatorium. The meet is set for a 2 p.m. start.