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Feb. 23, 2013


COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The South Carolina swimming and diving teams posted four more NCAA provisional qualifying times and swam seven lifetime bests on Saturday night to wrap up competition at the 2013 SEC Championships.

The Carolina men finished the week in eighth place with a total of 540.5, which was in improvement of two spots based on the overall standings from last year. On the women’s side, the Gamecocks finished 11th with a total of 248. South Carolina won two medals, broke six school records and swam two NCAA automatic qualifying times during the five days of competition.

“I think for the men’s team it’s one of the best meets we’ve ever had,” South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. “We had some outstanding swims and outstanding races throughout the week. The guys battled the entire time. We moved up from our position last year as far as team standings. We could possibly have as many as seven guys go to the NCAA Championships. That’s huge for us. We’ve never had more than two go to a single meet since I’ve been here.

“In the women’s meet, it was kind of a tale of two meets. It was a struggle at the beginning. They had a hard time, and it was tough for them because they weren’t performing up the level they expected. Today they finished strong and had very strong races. All in all I think it was a very successful meet for our program.”

In the Gamecocks’ only championship final race of the night, junior Amanda Rutqvist finished eighth with a time of 2:11.66, scoring 22 points for the team. It was Rutqvist’s third straight appearance in the 200 breaststroke championship final. In the men’s 200 breaststroke B final, junior Matt Navata delivered an impressive swim, finishing sixth in the final (14th overall) with a NCAA B cut and lifetime best of 1:58.53, which ranks 2nd all-time at South Carolina. Sophomore Alex Vance finished 23rd overall as he touched the wall eighth in the C final with a time of 2:02.67.

In the men’s 100 freestyle B final, junior Alex Fitton swam a 44.41 to finish eighth (16th overall), earning 11 points for the Gamecocks.

Freshman Marwan El Kamash gave the Gamecocks a solid start to the night as he scored 11 points by finishing 16th in the 1,650 freestyle with a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 15:19.58, which is the third fastest time in school history. Fellow freshman Alex Eiden just missed scoring with a 25th-place showing. He turned in the fifth fastest time in program history with a NCAA B cut of 15:29.57. In the women’s 1,650 freestyle, seniors Whitney Avers (22nd, 17:00.28 PR) and Jordan Gibbs (24th, 17:05.07) scored in their final race as Gamecocks.

In the final event of the night, the Gamecock men’s 400 freestyle relay team of Michael Flach, Jay Warner, Gerard Rodriguez and Fitton placed ninth with a time of 2:56.71, the second fastest mark all-time at South Carolina. The Carolina women’s team of Lauren Raczkowski, Sara Drake, Caroline Bixler and Rachael Schaffer finished 12th with a time of 3:25.69.

Earlier in the day during the preliminaries, the Gamecock divers concluded another successful SEC Championships. Sophomore Cole Miller made a run at advancing to the finals of the men’s platform diving for a second straight year but he came up just short, finishing 10th with a NCAA Zone qualifying mark of 321.70 to score 17 points for the team. Miller was 24.35 points shy of cracking the top eight. Junior Andrew Helmich had a career-best finish of 23rd with a total of 231.30, which is also a career high.

“I was happy with both of them,” South Carolina head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. “Obviously, having Texas A&M and Missouri in our conference this year has made the diving levels a lot higher, and we don’t have a 10-meter platform, so we are up there competing with the rest of the conference that has full facilities. My hats off to Cole for being able to compete. He didn’t really miss anything. That was our third time on the 10-meter this year. Our last practice on it was in January. I’m pretty proud of him. I think next year we will do a little bit better.”

Florida won its 34th men’s SEC title with a total of 1,408, snapping Auburn’s 16-year streak at the top. The Tigers finished runner-up with a score of 1,196. On the women’s side, Georgia won its fourth straight title with a total of 1,420.

The Gamecock divers will be back in action on March 11-13 at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, which will be held in Knoxville, Tenn. The South Carolina swimmers will await word on who will be going to the NCAA Championships. The Gamecocks left College Station with two NCAA automatic qualifying times, as Flach recorded a 4:15.32 in the 500 freestyle and the men’s 800 freestyle relay team turned in a 6:23.99. Both times were school records. The women’s (March 21-23) and men’s (March 28-30) NCAA Championships will both be held in Indianapolis, Ind.

Saturday, February 232013 SEC Swimming & Diving ChampionshipsCollege Station, Texas - Student Recreation Center NatatoriumDay 5 FinalsMen's 100 Freestyle16. Alex Fitton      44.41
Men's 200 Breaststroke14. Matt Navata 1:58.53 (NCAA B cut, PR)23. Alex Vance 2:02.67
Women's 200 Breaststroke8. Amanda Rutqvist 2:11.66 (NCAA B cut, PR)
Men's 1650 Freestyle16. M. El Kamash 15:19.58 (NCAA B cut, PR)25. Alex Eiden 15:29.57 (NCAA B cut, PR)29. Matt Columbus 15:40.9232. Brooks Ross 15:44.95
Women's 1650 Freestyle22. Whitney Avers 17:00.28 (PR)24. Jordan Gibbs 17:05.0728. Ashleigh Ferguson 17:22.15 (PR)31. Elise Costa 17:46.70 (PR)33. Charlotte Ward 18:18.75
Men's 400 Freestyle Relay9. Flach, Warner, Rodriguez, Fitton 2:56.71
Women's 400 Freestyle Relay12. Raczkowski, Drake, Bixler, Schaffer 3:25.69
Team StandingsMen1. Florida 14082. Auburn 11963. Georgia 10244. Tennessee 787.55. Missouri 779.56. LSU 753.57. Texas A&M 709.58. South Carolina 540.59. Kentucky 452.510. Alabama 451
Women1. Georgia 14202. Texas A&M 12963. Florida 1190.54. Tennessee 10185. Auburn 8606. Arkansas 5947. LSU 4948. Missouri 4879. Kentucky 368.510. Alabama 35311. South Carolina 24812. Vanderbilt 183