Jan. 22, 2011
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
WILMINGTON, N.C. – South Carolina’s swimming & diving team got a tough fight from UNC Wilmington on Saturday at Seahawk Natatorium, but the Gamecock men pulled away for a 161-137 dual-meet victory. The Carolina women fell to the host Seahawks in a tight meet, dropping a 155-140 decision.
Carolina’s men won their second meet in as many days and improved to 9-0 for the season, amassing the highest win total since the 1994 campaign when the Gamecocks finished 9-2. The Gamecock women dropped to 6-5 on the year with the loss, their first in the series with UNCW.
For the second straight day, sophomore Michael Flach put together a strong performance and added another event to his repertoire. Flach earned a victory in the 200-yard freestyle with a 1:40.53, falling just short of the UNCW pool record. He then added another victory in the 200 backstroke, an event he swam for just the first time this season and the third in his collegiate career, posting a 1:52.43 to win by a whopping four seconds. He also swam the butterfly leg on the victorious 400 medley relay team along with Max Heinze, Bobby Cave and Alex Fitton, posting a 3:23.80 to open the meet with a victory.
Gerard Rodriguez won a pair of events in yet another strong meet for the freshman from Spain, taking victory in the 100 freestyle with a 46.71 and leading a 1-2 Gamecock finish in the 200 IM with a 1:54.87 (Ryan Connolly took second in 1:56.54). In addition to his breaststroke leg on the 400 medley relay, sophomore Bobby Cave swept the top spots in both breaststroke events, swimming a 58.23 in the 100 breast while posting a 2:06.06 in the 200-yard swim. Cave also took third place in the 1000 freestyle, posting a 9:47.55 in his first time to swim the event at Carolina.
A quartet of sophomores earned the remaining swimming wins for the Gamecocks. Matt Columbus picked up a win in the 1000 free with a 9:29.09, winning by more than 11 seconds, then took runner-up honors in the 500 free with a 4:36.80. Fellow sophomore Brooks Ross got the win in the 500 free with a 4:35.76, and Max Heinze won the 100 backstroke with a 51.15. Andrew Seiler rounded out the wins with a 21.19 in the 50 freestyle. In the diving well, Nikolas Sachs took second and Andrew Helmich was third on both boards.
In the women’s meet, several individuals had standout performances but the team came up just short on the road. Sophomore Whitney Avers had yet another strong meet with a win in the 1000 freestyle (10:16.17) and took her fourth straight victory in the 200 butterfly (2:05.65). Avers also finished second in the 100 fly with a 58.70.
Freshman Rachael Schaffer earned a pair of wins as well, taking the top spot in the 200 freestyle with a 1:53.00, then continued her unbeaten streak in the 200 IM with a UNCW pool-record time of 2:04.23. Her 200 IM finish led a 1-2-3 sweep by the Gamecocks as Kelly Tannhauser clocked a 2:07.07 and Amanda Rutqvist posted a 2:08.48.
Rutqvist earned a win in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:03.70, then came back to win the 200 breast with a time of 2:17.35; Schaffer was the runner-up in the 200 with a 2:19.58. Sophomore Jordan Gibbs got the win in the 500 freestyle with a 5:02.65, barely missing a career-best mark.
Sophomore diver Chay Malvasio came up big as the lone competitor for the Gamecocks on Saturday, earning her first wins as a Gamecock on both the 1- and 3-meter boards. Her score of 276.30 – the best of her Carolina career – took top honors in the 1-meter and earned an NCAA Zone qualifying mark in the event. She also posted a win on the 3-meter board with a 304.95, winning by nearly 50 points over her closest competitor.
South Carolina will wrap up the 2010-11 regular season next Saturday, Jan. 29, with an SEC showdown against No. 11/2 Georgia and No. 16 Alabama. It will be Senior Day at the Blatt P.E. Center as the Gamecock seniors will be honored prior to the start of the meet. Diving is slated for a noon start with the swimming portion of the meet scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.