March 16, 2011
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Three swimmers and divers will represent the University of South Carolina this week at the 2011 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships, which run Thursday-Saturday at the University of Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.
Senior diver Taryn Zack will join freshman swimmers Amanda Rutqvist and Rachael Schaffer to comprise the Gamecocks’ largest contingent at an NCAA women’s meet since sending four athletes to the 2007 championships.
Zack earned her fourth straight bid to the NCAA Championships with a pair of strong finishes on the 1- and 3-meter boards at last week’s NCAA Zone B Diving meet in Athens, Ga. Zack’s 12-dive score of 669.00 on the 3-meter springboard was good enough for a third-place finish, guaranteeing her a fourth trip to the national championship meet. She then came back to earn a runner-up showing on the 1-meter board, fighting through the pain of a lingering shoulder injury to finish with a school-record 12-dive score of 598.95, breaking her own mark of 584.40 set at the 2009 Zone meet in Knoxville, Tenn.
Rutqvist, the SEC Champion in the 200-yard breaststroke, automatically qualified for the NCAA meet with her time of 2:08.56, setting both a South Carolina and Southeastern Conference record at last month’s SEC Championships in Gainesville, Fla. The native of Gothenburg, Sweden, has the nation’s sixth-fastest time in the 200 breast, along with the 15th-fastest time in the country in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.20). She also has a provisional qualifying time for the 200 individual medley (2:01.72).
Schaffer, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned an invitation to the meet by virtue of her times in both the 200- and 400-yard individual medley. She has the nation’s 18th-fastest time in the 400 IM (4:09.33) and the 19th-fastest national time in the 200 IM (1:57.89). She is also provisionally qualified in the 200 breaststroke (2:12.88).
The pair of Gamecock freshmen will be the first women’s swimmers to compete at an NCAA Championship for South Carolina since Christy Williams swam in the 2008 meet. Zack has been South Carolina’s lone representative at the meet each of the last two years.
This will mark the 10th straight season and the 26th overall time that South Carolina has sent at least one athlete to the NCAA Women’s Championships. The team’s best finish came at the 1989 meet, when the Gamecocks earned a 10th-place finish. Since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, the Gamecocks have posted six top-25 finishes, with the best being an 11th-place showing at the 2004 championships. South Carolina has had one individual national champion. Diver Allison Brennan won the women’s 1-meter title at the 2004 NCAA Championships. She currently serves as the Gamecocks’ assistant diving coach.
Preliminaries begin at noon ET with finals set for 8 p.m. each day of the competition. ESPN3.com will have live video of the finals on Friday and Saturday, and live results will be available through NCAA.com.