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March 14, 2012

NCAA Women’s Championships NotesGet Acrobat Reader

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina will have three student-athletes competing at the 2012 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which begin on Thursday in Auburn, Ala.

Senior diver Courtney Forcucci and sophomore swimmers Amanda Rutqvist and Rachael Schaffer have qualified to compete at the three-day meet at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on the campus of Auburn University.

Forcucci is making her third trip to the NCAA Championships, but it’s her first appearance as a Gamecock. The Fort Mill, S.C., native qualified twice while at Houston, earning All-America honors on the platform in 2008. After suffering a severe leg injury in 2009, Forcucci has battled back to become one of the top divers in the country as a senior. She won gold on the three-meter springboard at the SEC Championships with a conference and school record of 392.40. She also claimed bronze on the one-meter board with a score of 324.20. Forcucci finished second on the three-meter at the NCAA Zone Championships with a 12-dive school record of 670.75 to earn a berth to the NCAA Championships. She also placed runner-up at the Zone meet in the one-meter competition with a career-best 12-dive score of 590.35.

“Courtney had an unbelievable meet at SECs,” South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. “She seems to be a young lady that thrives when there is a pressure situation. At SECs, she had to nail her last dive on the three-meter to ensure victory and she did. She tends to focus even more when there’s a lot of pressure. She has the potential to go (to the NCAA Championships) and score and do big things.”

Both Rutqvist and Schaffer are making their second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships after bursting onto the national scene as true freshmen last year.

Rutqvist will compete in the 200-yard breaststroke after winning silver at the SEC Championships with the nation’s 17th fastest time of 2:09.48. She placed fifth in the event with a school-record time of 2:07.86 at the NCAA Championships last year, earning All-America honors. Rutqvist also has a provisional qualifying time in the 100-yard breaststroke with the nation’s 37th fastest time (1:01.18). She earned All-America honors in the event as well at last year’s championships.

“I think she has really started to sharpen up, especially in the last week and a half,” Moody said of Rutqvist. “She was good at SECs this year but not quite as fast as she was last year, but going into this meet, she is starting to look like her old self again.”

Schaffer is slated to swim in both the 200 and 400-yard IM. The Baltimore, Md., native has the 30th fastest time in the country in the 200 IM with a mark of 1:58.64. She placed 10th in the event at the SEC Championships and was 28th at last year’s NCAA Championships. Schaffer has the 17th fastest time in the country in the 400 IM after claiming fifth at the SEC Championships with a mark of 4:09.55. She also has a provisional time in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:14.64.

“Her 400 IM is going to be her best event,” Moody said. “She was 17th last year and was a little heartbroken. She just missed being an All-American and getting a second swim. I think that kind of drives her right now. She has looked really, really good this week.”

The Gamecocks are making their 11th-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships and 27th overall. Carolina’s best finish was a 10th-place showing at the 1989 national championships. The program has produced six top-25 finishes since joining the SEC in 1992, including an 11th-place finish in 2004. Former Gamecock diver Allison Brennan is the only Carolina individual national champion as she won the one-meter title at the 2004 championships.

The championships get underway on Thursday with preliminaries beginning at noon ET followed by finals at 8 p.m. Live results are available at Live video for all three days of preliminaries and Thursday’s finals will be available at Friday and Saturday’s finals will be streamed at