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Oct. 27, 2011

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — With the Clemson swimming and diving program being phased out at the end of the season, South Carolina is set to compete against its in-state rival for the final time this weekend.

The Gamecocks and Tigers will square off in the diving events on Friday at the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium at 6:30 p.m. The swimming events will take place on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Westside Aquatic Center in Greenville, S.C., closing out a series that dates back to 1923. Carolina holds the upper hand in the series with a 38-31-1 all-time record on the men’s side and a 20-16 record against the Clemson women.

“Both squads match up pretty well,” South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. “(Clemson) coach (Christopher) Ip has done an outstanding job there getting this program through its last couple of years of existence. I think it’s going to be a great meet. It will be a lot of fun to watch.”

The Gamecocks are coming off a dominant dual meet win over Georgia Tech last Saturday, winning 25 of the 32 events. The Carolina women (2-1) defeated the Yellow Jackets, 176-122, while the Gamecock men (1-2) cruised to a 179.5-116.5 victory.

South Carolina swept the diving events against the Yellow Jackets. Junior Rylan Ridenour earned SEC Male Diver of the Week honors after winning the one-meter springboard with a SEC-best score of 387.75 and finishing second on the three-meter board. The Gamecocks also had a dominant day in the distance events, as they claimed the top two spots in the men and women’s 500 freestyle and the men’s 1,000 freestyle and the top three spots in the women’s 1,000 freestyle.

“We had a good weekend,” Moody said. “It was what we had hoped to see the week before (against Florida State and Alabama). I know they were very disappointed in our trip down to Tallahassee, and you are starting to see a little bit of a spark back in them. I think it has carried over to this week. We have had some really good practices. This is a huge week for us, and I know the team is ready for the challenge.”

Clemson enters the meet with a 3-0 record on both the men and women’s sides. The Tigers defeated Davidson, Limestone and Savannah College of Art and Design in their first three meets of the season.

The Tiger men had one of the most successful seasons in program history a year ago, posting a 6-3 dual meet record and finishing sixth at the ACC Championships. Clemson brings back a bulk of that roster led by senior Chris Dart, who won an ACC title last season in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:43.77.

On the women’s side, Clemson went 4-5 in 2010-11 and finished 10th at the ACC Championships. The Tigers return the most experience in the backstroke with seniors Kelly Fowler, Kerry McLaughlin and Deanna Piper and sophomore Ali Polhill leading the way. Polhill and Fowler have the sixth and seventh best 100 backstroke times in school history, respectively.

The Gamecocks swept Clemson in last season’s meet, as the women won 167-133 and the men claimed a 169.5-125.5 victory. South Carolina got three wins each from Rachael Schaffer and Michael Flach.

Friday’s diving portion of the meet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the men’s one-meter and women’s three-meter springboard events. Admission is free to the public.