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Feb. 18, 2011

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By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director

Coach Moody

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Amanda Rutqvist, Rachael Schaffer and Michael Flach all posted top-six finishes in their respective events, and the women’s 400 medley relay team set the fourth school record of the day on Friday night at the SEC Swimming Championships at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium.

With one day of swimming left – and some of South Carolina’s best events on Saturday – the Gamecock men remain in eighth place with 153 points, but have closed the gap with Kentucky (12-point deficit) and Alabama (29-point deficit). Meanwhile, the Gamecock women continue to hold onto sixth place with a 24-point lead over seventh-place Kentucky.

But maybe the bigger story – of the 66 total points scored by Gamecock individuals tonight, 40 of them came from freshmen and 19 from sophomores, showing that the future – as well as the present – is very bright for South Carolina swimming. Of three individual school records broken this morning (and another bettered tonight), all were courtesy of a strong Gamecock freshman class.

Capping off what had already been a highly successful night, the women’s 400 medley relay team of Megan Sparks, Rutqvist, Schaffer and Bridget Halligan broke the team’s fourth school record of the day with a 3:40.29, a second and a half faster than the previous mark set by Sparks, Amanda Dunnigan, Lindsey Olson and Claire Thompson at the 2009 SEC Championships – while that team was wearing technical suits. It was a fitting end to a strong day that saw eight Gamecock individuals score points.

Rutqvist started her night by earning a fourth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke final, clocking a 1:00.41 – just shy of her school-record pace from the morning prelims – to just miss a spot on the medal stand. She posted a 1:00.20 in the morning prelims to break her own school record by more than a second and a half. The freshman from Gothenburg, Sweden, will have a chance to final one more time on Saturday as she swims her best event, the 200 breaststroke; she is the SEC’s top seed entering tomorrow’s preliminaries.

Flach followed up a bronze medal in the 500 freestyle last night with a fifth-place finish in the 200 freestyle final, clocking a time of 1:35.39 to shave another few hundredths of a second off his career-best and improve the second-best time in school history. He qualified for the final with a 1:35.43 in prelims and earned 14 points for the Gamecocks. Also scoring for Carolina in the 200 freestyle was freshman Gerard Rodriguez, who clocked a 1:36.12 in his second consolation finals appearance of the week; he also swam the B-final of Thursday’s 500 freestyle. Flach will be the No. 2 seed in Saturday’s 200 butterfly preliminaries, and Rodriguez is entered in the 100 freestyle as both look to make their third finals appearance of the week.

And Schaffer, who finished fifth in the 200 individual medley on Thursday, earned a sixth-place finish in the 400 IM on Friday night, shaving another two seconds off her school-record time with a 4:09.33. Her prelim time of 4:11.67 had been a full three seconds faster than her previous best time, which initially broke the school record back in November. The native of Baltimore, Md., will join Rutqvist in the 200 breaststroke prelims on Friday morning as both have a strong chance to reach the finals.

In the consolation finals of the 100 backstroke, freshman Jay Warner followed up his record-setting performance in the morning’s prelims with a 47.87 to finish 11th overall, third in the B-final. This morning, the freshman from Moore, S.C., swam a 47.36 to break Nick Walkotten’s South Carolina record and barely missed a spot in the championship final by .10 seconds. Warner is entered in the 200 backstroke on Saturday as he looks to add another NCAA `B’ cut to his resume.

Junior Chris Kelly started off the night with a career-best time in the 400 IM consolation final, clocking a 3:50.79 to post the fourth-fastest time in school history and finish 13th overall, earning four points for the Gamecocks. Sophomore Bobby Cave came up just short in the 100 breaststroke consolation final with a 55.18 to finish fourth in the heat, 12th overall, as he touched just .37 seconds behind the race winner. And senior Bridget Halligan scored in her second event of her final SEC Championships meet, clocking a career-best 54.55 in the 100 butterfly consolation final to finish in 14th place.

The final day of the 2011 SEC Swimming Championships gets underway at 10 a.m. Saturday with preliminaries in the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly. Timed finals of the 1650 freestyle begin at approximately 3:25 p.m., and the last night of finals gets underway at 6 p.m. at the O’Connell Center. As with the last three days, live results and live video are available through, and fans can follow the Gamecocks in action via Twitter by following @GamecockSwim.

2011 SEC Swimming Championships – Day Three Finals
February 18, 2011
Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium – Gainesville, Fla.

Men’s 400 Individual Medley
1. Conor Dwyer, Florida – 3:37.75 (SEC Record)
13. Chris Kelly, South Carolina – 3:50.79
Women’s 400 Individual Medley
1. Elizabeth Beisel, Florida – 4:00.83 (SEC Record)
6. Rachael Schaffer, South Carolina – 4:09.33 (School Record)
Women’s 100 Butterfly
1. Jennifer Connolly, Tennessee – 51.64
14. Bridget Halligan, South Carolina – 54.55
Men’s 200 Freestyle
1. Ryan Harrison, Tennessee – 1:32.38
5. Michael Flach, South Carolina – 1:35.39
13. Gerard Rodriguez, South Carolina – 1:36.12
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
1. Stuart Ferguson, Auburn – 53.01
12. Bobby Cave, South Carolina – 55.18
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
1. Jane Trepp, LSU – 58.94 (SEC Record)
4. Amanda Rutqvist, South Carolina – 1:00.41 (set school record of 1:00.20 in prelims)
Men’s 100 Backstroke
1. Marco Loughran, Florida – 45.70
11. Jay Warner, South Carolina – 47.87 (set school record of 47.36 in prelims)
Men’s 400 Medley Relay
1. Florida (Loughran, Dwyer, Cieslak, Fraser) – 3:04.99
7. South Carolina (Warner, Cave, Flach, Fitton) – 3:15.12
Women’s 400 Medley Relay
1. Tennessee (Connolly, Moravcikova, Floyd, Gendron) – 3:30.90 (SEC Record)
7. South Carolina (Sparks, Rutqvist, Schaffer, Halligan) – 3:40.29 (School Record)

1. Auburn – 574
2. Florida – 547
3. Tennessee – 443.5
4. Goergia – 347
5. LSU – 215.5
6. Alabama – 182
7. Kentucky – 165
8. South Carolina – 153

1. Georgia – 515
2. Florida – 463
3. Auburn – 425
4. Tennessee – 314
5. LSU – 295
6. South Carolina – 203
7. Kentucky – 179
8. Arkansas – 149
9. Alabama – 141.5
10. Vanderbilt – 64