Oct. 18, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In the conference opening meet of the 2013-14 season, both the South Carolina men’s and women’s swimming and diving fell to Tennessee this afternoon at the Jones Aquatic Center. The men’s team was defeated 172-128, while the women fell 169-124.
“I think on the women’s side, we swam really, really well,” South Carolina head swimming and diving coach McGee Moody said. “I was happy with the way that we competed and swam with confidence against a top team in Tennessee. I’m really happy with where they are at this point of the season.
“For the men, we were hot and cold today. We had some really good swims. Kevin Leithold was awesome and Jared Kauffman had a great meet, but we left some opportunities out there. This is a team that I think if we had taken advantage in some other races, I think the outcome could have been different, but we didn’t and Tennessee just swam better today.”
The men’s team was led by a strong day from Leithold who picked up wins in both the 100 breaststroke (56.27) and 100 freestyle (44.61).
“Kevin is a little faster than we thought he would be at this point,” Moody noted. “Some of the things that we’ve been working on technically with him, he’s starting to get. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him swim a sub-44 free before SECs.”
Junior diver Cole Miller came up just shy of sweeping the boards. After narrowly falling in the one-meter springboard by 0.15 points to Mauricio Robles, Miller topped the international standout in the three-meter board with a score of 409.28.
“Cole’s not known as a one-meter diver, but he went dive to dive with [Robles] and it went down to the last dive,” diving coach Todd Sherritt said of Miller’s day. “It was very competitive on the high board, but Cole just put it away. He had a great day, did a great job in beating a world-class athlete.”
Also recording wins were seniors Gerard Rodriguez in the 200 freestyle (1:39.77), Matt Navata in the 200 butterfly (1:52.94), and freshmen Sam Lynch in the 100 fly (48.98) and Kaufman in the 200 breaststroke (2:04.29). Lynch (200 backstroke) and Rodriguez (500 freestyle) also notched second-place finishes.
The women’s team had stellar days in the pool from junior Victoria Mitchell and senior Amanda Rutqvist. Mitchell claimed wins in the both the 1000 freestyle (10:03.39) and the 200 IM (2:06.56), while also finishing second in the 500 freestyle (4:55.90). Rutqvist swept the 100 and 200 breaststokes with times of 1:04.97 and 2:21.15.
“[Victoria] was great again and she attacked that 1000 free right after the relay and I think that caught Tennessee off guard,” Moody said. “Technically it was a well swam race and I think her 500 was just as good and her 200 IM was strong at the end. I think we’re going to move her around next week and check her out in a couple other events.”
The women’s 400 freestyle relay team of Cooper Brown, Lauren Raczkowski, Ashleigh Ferguson and Mitchell also picked up the win with a time of 3:32.72.
“I think they’re getting ready to go,” Moody said his women’s team. “They know what their team is and where they want to take the program.”
Junior diver Patricia Kranz continued a strong start to the season as the reigning SEC Diver of the Week easily claimed both the one and three-meter boards with scores of 295.50 and 335.33.
“This is a difficult environment to dive in, but she really put together a really good three-meter list and she missed on a couple dives, but still managed to get 335,” Sherrit said of Kranz. “She’s starting strong and that’s what you have to do in this sport.”
The Gamecocks travel to North Carolina next weekend as they face East Carolina on Oct. 26 in Greenville. The dual meet is set to begin at 1 p.m. ET.