Feb. 17, 2016
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving program continued to rewrite the program history books on Wednesday at the SEC Championships, setting two new Gamecock records on the second day of the conference meet. Sophomores Akaram Mahmoud and Taylor Worrell etched their names at the top of the school records list as Carolina men finished the day in eighth place, and the Gamecock women now stand in 10th.
Florida leads the men’s competition through two days, with 504 points, while Auburn is right behind them at 497. The Gamecocks have 248 points through two days.
The Gamecock women have 173 points through two days at the Mizzou Aquatic Center. Tennessee leads the women’s draw at 437.5 points, with Georgia at 430 and Texas A&M at 412.5.
Both Worrell and Mahmoud broke the South Carolina record in the 500-yard freestyle. Mahmoud toppled his own record, set last season at the SEC Championships, while Worrell eclipsed a 25-year-old mark set by Isabelle Arnould in 1991.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody – “We were good. Coach Mark Bernardino had our distance swimmers ready to kick off the night. Akaram Mahmoud and Tomas Peribonio really led off the night in the A Final of the 500 free, with Taylor Worrell also in the championship final. Taylor broke our school record, which had been standing for a really long time, so we’re proud of her for that. That started the night off. We had some great swims by our IMers and found ourselves in a pretty good position at the end of the evening.” — On his team’s output on the second day of the competition
“She’s worked really hard this year. We has a sit down with her in the middle of the year and talked about what exactly she was hoping to get out of this season and what it was going to take to reach the goals that she had set down. Knowing and trusting her training, and knowing that she was ready to swim fast today, I think she even surprised herself this morning, and then she came back and broke that record. She’s earned it, she deserves it, and she did a great job.” — On the record day by Taylor Worrell
“That’s what we’ve been talking about all year. Those guys have got to come in and have an impact pretty early on in their careers. They did a good job. Emma had a much better swim tonight, and Cody had a much better swim tonight. Cody was about four seconds faster than he was in the morning. One thing they’ve got to learn now, they’ve got to put those times up in the morning and get back in those A and B Finals at night. This meet is a huge learning process, and there’s a lot going on here, so there’s a lot for them to take in, race in and race out. I think they’re going to get better as we go, and we’re going to see that from a lot of our athletes.” — On freshmen Emma Barksdale and Cody Bekemeyer advancing to the evening session
“I think we’ve got to sit down and talk about tonight; where we stand and what we are able to control as a team. How we’re able to approach the different events tomorrow, where we can pick up points, and then we’ve got to keep an eye as a coaching staff on some of these other teams that are around us and make sure we’re doing what we need to do to try to hold our place and move up in the team standings tomorrow.” — On the keys to improvement on Thursday
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt – “It was a great day. Just to get in this final, (Jordan) had to fight. I think that’s really important for him and his career at this point. He can make things happen when he needs to make them happen. He put himself in the finals and had a great finals. (He had) a couple misses, and we can point to some things we’re working on. When they come out of this and say `gosh, I could have done this or finished higher’ it’s a real motivator to make some corrections. This is a good tune-up for the NCAAs, so I’m really happy for how things turned out today for him. He’s been doing a great job.” — On Jordan’s Gotro’s performance in the 1-meter competition
Mahmoud scorched his own previous Carolina record in the 500-yard freestyle prelims, swimming a time of 4:12.78 to beat the field by nearly three seconds and top his prior best by over two seconds. In the finals, he finished as runner-up by just .17 seconds, clocking a time of 4:13.48. Tomas Peribonio came in fourth, at 4:17.25, while freshman Cody Bekemeyer made his first SEC final and came in 18th with an evening time of 4:19.95.
Nils Wich-Glasen made the B Final of the 200-yard IM and led the Gamecocks in the event. The sophomore set a personal record and swam the second-fastest time in school history in finals, a 1:46.25 that netted him 12th place overall.
In the 1-meter dive, Jordan Gotro once again finished strong in prelims, rising from 11th to seventh with his final dive, a Reverse 1 1/2 Somersault 2 1/2 Twist Free that received a 60.00. He came in sixth in finals, with a total score of 348.30. His best dive of the evening was a Reverse 2 1/2 Somersault Tuck that was marked at 73.50.
Jonathan Boland was the top Gamecock in the 50-yard freestyle. The junior finished the race in 20.50 to come in 34th place.
Worrell stole the show for the Gamecocks in the prelims of the 500-yard freestyle, nearly breaking the school record and qualifying for her first career A Final. She did even better in the finals, setting the top Gamecock mark with a time of 4:43.20. She finished seventh overall.
Emma Barksdale qualified for the C Final in the 200-yard IM, and she continued her good work in the evening session. The freshman finished third in her evening heat and 19th overall with an finals swim of 1:58.49, a personal best and the second-fastest time in Gamecock history.
Another freshman led the Gamecocks in the 50-yard freestyle. McKenna Keith set a personal record and finished 30th overall with a time of 23.38.
The Gamecocks placed 11th in the last event of the night, the 200-yard freestyle relay. Keith, Paige Maynard, Meredith Vay and Taylor Vincent turned in a time of 1:32.24, the fifth-best mark in school history.
- In prelims, Carolina swimmers combined for 13 personal records.
- Four more Gamecocks set individual bests in the evening session.
- In addition to making finals, Worrell posted an NCAA B Cut time in the 500 free with her prelims swim.
- Mahmoud’s prelims swim in the 500 free was the second-fastest in the nation this season and an NCAA A Cut swim.
- Kersten Dirrane’s 200 IM prelims time of 2:00.83 was good for an NCAA B Cut.
- Minuth posted a time of 1:48.83 in the 200 IM prelims, an NCAA B Cut performance.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
The Gamecocks tackle day three of the SEC Championships on Thursday with the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, and women’s 3-meter dive on the docket. Prelims start at 10 a.m. CT, with finals at 6 p.m. CT, and all events are streamed live on SEC Network+.