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Nov. 16, 2011

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina swimming and diving teams travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. this week to wrap up the fall season at the Nike Cup Invitational. The three-day event runs Thursday through Saturday at the Koury Natatorium on the University of North Carolina campus.

The Nike Cup will give South Carolina valuable experience, as it is the only event on its schedule with a similar format to the SEC and NCAA championships. The Gamecocks will be looking to achieve NCAA qualifying times in several events.

“This is not your normal one-on-one dual meet format,” South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. “It’s going to be fun to get a chance to race in more of a prelims and finals setting as opposed to a team battle. It gives us a chance to watch our folks on more of an individual basis. It also helps us make some decisions on who is going to be on that final championship team. This is our trial run.”

The Gamecock men enter the Nike Cup at 2-3 on the season after suffering a 167-132 setback to 13th-ranked Tennessee on Nov. 4. On the women’s side, Carolina is 3-2 after a 174-124 loss to ninth-ranked Tennessee. Carolina won 13 of the 32 events on the day.

“The outcome wasn’t what we wanted,” Moody said of the Tennessee meet. “I thought we actually raced relatively well coming off a meet with Clemson that was high energy. We knew what we were up against. Both the men and women’s teams at Tennessee are a couple of the top teams in the country. For the most part, I was really happy with how we raced.”

The diving corps continues to be a strength for the Gamecocks through four meets. The Gamecock women have swept the boards in three straight events led by senior Courtney Forcucci. Forcucci has recorded the best three-meter springboard score in the SEC this season (360.08) and the second-best one-meter score (322.13). The Carolina men have won all but one diving event in the last three meets. Junior Rylan Ridenour has led the way with the third-best scores in the SEC on both the one-meter (387.75) and three-meter (396.82) springboards.

In the swimming events, South Carolina’s distance corps has scored big points, winning all but one event in the last three meets. The Gamecocks have also received strong performances from sophomores Rachael Schaffer, Amanda Rutqvist and Gerard Rodriguez and junior Bobby Cave, who have all won three events in the last two meets.

The Gamecocks will be competing against a strong field in Chapel Hill, including host North Carolina. The Tar Heel men are ranked 11th in the nation in the latest CSCAA top 25, while the North Carolina women are No. 12. Teams from the U.S. Naval Academy (men and women), Duke (men and women), Harvard (men only), East Carolina (men and women), Old Dominion (men and women), James Madison (divers only) and Drexel (divers only) are also slated to compete.

“We are excited about this,” Moody said. “We’ve had a couple of good weeks of practice. We are really starting to fine-tune our training going into the end of this first semester. We are looking forward to seeing how we do.”

Preliminaries will be held every day at 10 a.m. for each event, while the finals are scheduled for 6 p.m. all three nights. Live results will be available at