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Jan. 12, 2013

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DURHAM, N.C. — The South Carolina swimming and diving teams got off to a strong start in 2013 as they swept Duke on the road on Saturday at the Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion.

The Gamecock women cruised to a 184-115 victory to improve to 2-4 on the season, and the Carolina men edged the Blue Devils 159-141 to move to 3-3 overall. The victory is the fourth straight over Duke for the Gamecock men and the second straight for the women’s team.

On the day South Carolina finished first in 18 of the 32 events and swept the top three places in five events. Senior Brooks Ross and juniors Michael Flach, Matt Navata and Rachael Schaffer led the way with two wins apiece.

“The men’s meet was closer than I had hoped, but our women had one of their best meets of the year as far as racing goes,” South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. “I was really proud of the way they performed. On the men’s side, Brooks had a really good meet, and Michael swam really well. We had to make some changes early because we had to pull Jay Warner out of the meet with a sickness. They battled really hard and got wins in the last couple of events to come out on top. All in all it was a good day, and I am really proud of them.”

Ross swept the men’s distance events, winning the 500 freestyle with a mark of 4:36.79 and touching first in the 1,000 freestyle with a time of 9:31.40. Flach, who has now won 10 races on the season, swam to first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:39.56) and the 100 butterfly (49.64) on Saturday. Navata came away with wins in the 200 butterfly (1:53.99) and the 200 IM (1:53.36), while Schaffer won by nearly four seconds in the women’s 200 IM (2:04.38) and took first in the 200 freestyle (1:52.02).

The Gamecocks had a stellar day in the distance events as they swept the top three places in three of the four events. Senior Whitney Avers earned her first win of the season by touching first in the 500 freestyle in 5:02.91, and senior Jordan Gibbs picked up her first win of the year by claiming first in the 1,000 freestyle in 10:16.99.

Junior Amanda Rutqvist set a Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion pool record in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:15.30. In her first action of the season, senior Matea Peteh had a strong showing as she won the 100 backstroke in 57.06. Freshman Alicia Cheripka (200 backstroke, 2:04.40) and freshman Casey Papp (100 butterfly, 56.48) also picked up wins for the Carolina women on Saturday.

On the men’s side, junior Narayan Naik won the 200 backstroke with a mark of 1:52.14.

The South Carolina relay teams also picked up a pair of wins. The women’s 200 medley relay team of Lindsay Pierce, Rutqvist, Papp and Rachel Elliott took first with a time of 1:44.20, which is the team’s second fastest time of the season. The men’s 400 freestyle relay team of Flach, Michael Covert, Gerard Rodriguez and Alex Fitton also won with a time of 3:03.81.

On the boards, the Gamecocks faced their toughest test of the season in Olympic medal winners Nick McCrory and Abby Johnston. Duke won three of the four events, but sophomore Patricia Kranz prevented the sweep by claiming first on the three-meter springboard with a mark of 332.55. Kranz (302.47) fell 7.36 points shy of knocking off Johnston in the one-meter event, while freshman Lauren Lamendola (269.40) placed fourth. For the Carolina men, senior Rylan Ridenour finished second on the one-meter board with a score of 377.55, which was just 1.95 points behind McCrory. Sophomore Cole Miller was fourth with a score of 308.92. Miller (363.67) and Ridenour (360.15) then finished third and fourth, respectively, on the three-meter board.

“This was the best team we have gone up against this year,” South Carolina diving coach Todd Sherritt said. “Two Olympians came close to being defeated by Patty and Rylan. Patty winning the three-meter was important for her. She is establishing herself as one of the top divers in the country. Rylan had a solid performance setting himself up for a great conference meet.”

The Gamecocks return to action at home on Friday, Jan. 18 against Arkansas and Florida State. The meet is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. with diving getting underway at 3 p.m. at the Carolina Natatorium.