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Jan. 13, 2012

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — After going through a grueling winter workout schedule, the South Carolina swimming and diving teams are set to open the 2012 portion of the schedule on Saturday at home in a meet with Duke and Queens University of Charlotte.

The diving portion of the meet will begin at 1 p.m. with the swimming events scheduled to get underway at 2 in the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium. South Carolina head coach McGee Moody is pleased with the amount of work his teams put in during the winter break.

“They have done a really great job,” Moody said. “They’ve done a lot of yardage and a lot of high intensity work. This is really the time of the year where we start to set up our rest for the SEC Championships and the postseason. We also have to take into account this year what happens after the NCAA Championships and the direction we are going with our summer training too. A lot of that went into our planning. We had a great break.”

The Gamecock women enter the meet at 3-2 overall, while the men are 2-3 on the season. Carolina closed out its fall schedule at the Nike Cup Invitational on Nov. 17-19 in Chapel Hill, N.C., where the women finished third and the men claimed fourth.

Sophomore Rachael Schaffer led the way at the Nike Cup, achieving NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 200 breaststroke, 200 IM and 400 IM. Sophomore Amanda Rutqvist swam B cuts in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and sophomore Abby Galbreath also recorded a B cut time in the 400 IM. On the boards, senior Courtney Forcucci finished first and second, respectively, on the one and three-meter springboards, while junior Rylan Ridenour finished second in both events in the men’s competition.

Saturday’s matchup marks the 12th meeting all-time between the Gamecock men and Duke, with Carolina holding an 8-3 advantage in the series. The Carolina women have a 4-2 edge all-time against the Blue Devils. In last year’s meet in Durham, N.C., the Carolina men claimed a 165-135 victory, while the women dropped a 160-140 decision. Duke competed against the Gamecocks in the Nike Cup Invitational this season, with the Blue Devil men’s squad taking third and the women finishing second.

“Duke is a program a lot like ours,” Moody said. “They have some very talented athletes. I think Saturday is going to be a great meet. It will give us some of our closest races probably of the year. We are going to have to be ready to compete. It’s always an interesting time of the year because it’s our first competition coming back from break.”

Queens is in just its second year of competing at the NCAA Division II level in swimming but it has had a strong showing in 2011-12. The Royals men are 7-1 on the year, including a win over College of Charleston, while the Queens women have a record of 8-2. The Gamecocks swept Queens last year, winning the men’s competition, 247-41, and the women’s meet by a score of 249-24.

“Queens is a program that just started up a few years ago, and coach (Jeff) Dugdale is in the process of building that program up. He’s done a really good job,” Moody said. “They’ve got some good athletes that are coming in and are getting more and more competitive every year.”

Saturday is the second to last home meet of the season for the Gamecocks, as they will conclude their home schedule with a two-day meet against Vanderbilt and East Carolina on Jan. 27-28. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Live results will be available at