March 22, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving team heads back to Atlanta, Ga., and the McAuley Aquatic Center for the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships. The season-ending event begins Wednesday, March 23, and concludes on Saturday, March 26.
Seven Gamecocks will represent the team as South Carolina takes aim at national championships and All-America honors. The lone event on Wednesday night is the 800-yard freestyle relay, where Kevin Leithold, Akaram Mahmoud, Fynn Minuth and Tomas Peribonio will be in the pool. Individual events start Thursday, with Mahmoud, Peribonio, and Cody Bekemeyer racing the 500-yard freestyle, Nils Wich-Glasen in the 200 IM and Jordan Gotro in the 1-meter dive. On Friday, Wich-Glasen participates in the 100-yard breaststroke, Bekemeyer and Peribonio swim the 400-yard IM and Gotro dives the 3-meter springboard. Finally, on Saturday, Bekemeyer, Peribonio and Mahmoud are in the 1,650-yard freestyle, Wich-Glasen is in the 200-yard breaststroke and Gotro competes in the platform.
Mahmoud enters the NCAAs as South Carolina’s best hope for its first national champion, as the sophomore sports the nation’s second-fastest time in the 1650 free and fourth-best time in the 500 free. But he’s not the only Gamecock who could do big things in Atlanta. Wich-Glasen holds the 12th-best time in the 200 breaststroke and Peribonio has the 14th-fastest 1650 free time, putting both in prime All-America position. Also, Gotro is peaking at the right time, with a trio of top-seven results at the Zone Diving Championships two weeks ago.
Swimming prelims begin each day at 10 a.m., while diving prelims start at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, 12 p.m. Friday and 12:15 p.m. Saturday. The diving consolation finals begin 15 minutes after the conclusion of diving prelims, the early heats of the 1650 free begin at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, and both swimming and diving finals start at 6 p.m. each day.
Updated schedules, psych sheets, live results and live video links can be found by visiting the Championship Central page at RamblinWreck.com. Georgia Tech will stream live video of each prelims session and finals on Wednesday and Thursday. ESPN3 will stream finals sessions on the last two days.
GAMECOCK HISTORY AT THE NCAA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
Four of the seven Gamecocks competing this week have already earned All-America laurels in their NCAA Championships careers. Leithold, Mahmoud and Peribonio were on the 800 free relay team that finished 11th last season at NCAAs, while Leithold placed 12th in the same race in 2014. Mahmoud finished sixth in the 1650 free last season, and Peribonio took 13th in the same event. Wich-Glasen earned his first All-America award by placing seventh in the 200 breast.
In addition to the returning Gamecocks, graduated senior Cole Miller finished as an All-American in all three diving competitions last season.
Gotro dove in two events last season at the NCAA Championships, with his best finish coming in the 1-meter, a 25th-place result. Overall, the Gamecocks finished 19th last season, their best team result since 2000.
In total, 50 different Gamecocks have combined to win 142 All-America awards. Gary Binfield (1986-89) is Carolina’s all-time leader with 15 All-America finishes, and teammate Wade King (1986-89) had 12. On the diving side, Brandon Hulko (2000-02) and Andy Bradley (2003-05) are Carolina’s all-time leaders with four All-America honors each.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody – “This is a really solid group that we’ve got going out there that can put up a lot of points. We’re looking to stay in the top-20 in the country this year. That’s a goal we have. We want to move up. We want to score more points than last year. We’re going to go in there excited and see what we can do.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On his team’s overall expectations for the NCAA Championships
“Akaram is going to have to go faster than he’s ever gone before. He’s a young man who trains in a way that he has that desire, and you can see it every practice. That’s his goal. He wants to be the best distance swimmer in the NCAA, and he has even broader goals. He wants to be the best distance swimmer in the world. He trains like that. What we’re going to have to see from him is a very smart race. He will be in the top-eight heat, swimming at night at the NCAAs in the final of the 1650. He’s going to have the fastest guys around him. We think whoever wins this race is probably going to have to set an NCAA record to do it, and we think Akaram is capable of that.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On Akaram Mahmoud’s chances to win an NCAA Championship in the 1650 free
“This is where we rely on Tom’s training. He does a lot of volume during the year, and that’s going to carry him over through this last meet. When we rest down, we expect him to be fast, and we’re going to have to make sure that he’s prepared for each race, but also recovered from each race. He is a young man who can get second swims and score points in all of his events, so I think we’re looking from big things from Tom. He’s a young man who we’ve never seen in a position where he didn’t accept the challenge.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On the prospects of Tomas Peribonio at NCAAs
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt – “Jordan works extremely hard, and that’s one of the reasons these guys get a lot better. As a coach, you just want to have someone who is teachable, and he is, and someone who has the talent, which he has, plus the vision to know what he wants to do with his athletics. That combination makes it a lot easier to train somebody, specifically Jordan. He’s put a lot of work in. Coming in as a freshman, he was not known as a national-caliber athlete, more of a diamond in the rough. But I saw him and said ‘hey, this guy’s got what it takes.’ Now second year, in the NCAAs he’s in two events, and this year, he’s in three events and making finals in all three events at conference. So he’s definitely turned into one of those athletes who’s going to be up there for us.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On the progress made by Jordan Gotro as a collegian
“It is exhausting, physically. I don’t know of any meet besides NCAAs and Zones that hit back-to-back with three events like that. It’s very demanding, and at the end of the week, these guys are spent. They can’t get their arms over their heads.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On the physical toll of the NCAA Championships
“I just want Jordan to go out there and execute and do what he can do at the highest level he can do it. I know what that will do; certainly it will put him in the finals. That’s the exciting part of it, as a coach, you see the work that’s been done in the pool and you know what’s there. And if it shows up, he’s going to be there (in the finals).” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On his expectations for Jordan Gotro at the NCAA Championships
A LOOK BACK
Mahmoud qualified for the NCAA Championships by swimming NCAA A-Cut times in the 500 free and 1650 free at the SEC Championships, which included his conference championship performance in the mile. Bekemeyer, Leithold, Minuth, Peribonio and Wich-Glasen each received their nationals bids when the NCAA released its list of invited swimmers and relay teams on March 9.
Gotro earned his way to NCAAs with a strong three-day run at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships from March 7-9. The junior finished sixth in the 1-meter, seventh in the 3-meter and fifth on the platform at the regional meet and will dive all three boards for the first time at nationals.
GAMECOCKS EARN ALL-AMERICA SPOTS AT NCAA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Carolina finished with three All-Americans at the NCAA Women’s Championships, held March 16-19. Sophomore Julia Vincent finished fourth in the 1-meter dive, while senior Lauren Lamendola placed 15th in the 1-meter and freshman Allyson Nied came in 16th in the platform. This was the first year since 2004 that three different Gamecocks earned All-America status.
Two swimmers also raced at NCAAs, making their first appearance on the national stage. Emma Barksdale swam three races, with her best result coming in the 400 IM, a 29th-place finish. Taylor Worrell took part in two races and had her best result, 26th, in the 500 free. As a team, South Carolina finished 29th at the event, its best result since 2012.
SWIMMERS EXCEL AT SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Gamecocks notched four swimming podium spots at the SEC Championships, and they combined to break eight swimming school records. Leading the way was Akaram Mahmoud, who won the 1,650-yard freestyle with a school record time of 14:35.49. Mahmoud is Carolina’s first SEC men’s champion since 2001, and he also finished second in the 500-yard freestyle. Tomas Peribonio joined Mahmoud on the 1650 free podium, placing third, and Nils Wich-Glasen finished third in the 200-yard breaststroke.
NIED FINDS THE PODIUM IN FIRST CONFERENCE MEET
Just a freshman, Allyson Nied represented the Gamecocks on the platform diving podium at the SEC Championships. Nied finished third in the event, with a school-record score of 283.80 in the finals.
GOTRO EARNS SPOT AT U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS
Junior Jordan Gotro didn’t just qualify for the NCAA Championships with his performance at NCAA Zone Diving. In the 3-meter prelims on March 7, he finished third in prelims with a score of 382.55. That score qualifies the junior for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.
VINCENT POSTS OLYMPIC QUALIFYING SCORE IN RIO
Sophomore Julia Vincent competed in the 3-meter springboard diving event on Feb. 22 at the FINA Diving World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finishing with a score of 259.80. Late that night, South Carolina head diving coach Todd Sherritt was informed that the score was high enough to represent Vincent’s native South Africa in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The score of 259.80 is Vincent’s highest career mark in international competition. She finished 28th at the event, which included many of the top divers in the world and was held at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, site of the diving events at this summer’s Olympic Games.
BOTH CAROLINA TEAMS END SEASON RANKED IN CSCAA TOP-25 POLLS
The South Carolina men ended the season ranked 22nd in the College Swimming Coaches Association top-25 poll, while the women ended the regular season at No. 24. It’s the first time this season that the Carolina women have been ranked and the first time in history that both Gamecock squads have been ranked at the same time.
AWARDS ROLLING IN
The Gamecocks have been a constant presence in the SEC Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Week awards in 2015-16. Maynard was the first to be honored by the SEC this season, taking Freshman of the Week honors on Oct. 13 after winning two events at the FGCU Classic.
Carolina’s biggest week came on Oct. 27, as Mahmoud (Male Swimmer), Gotro (Male Diver), Julia Vincent (Female Diver) and Cody Bekemeyer (Male Freshman) were all tabbed. Mahmoud won three races vs. Purdue, while Gotro won both dives and Bekemeyer tallied three runner-up spots against the Boilermakers. Vincent won the 1M and 3M dives against Clemson.
The Carolina women’s divers won the year’s final three weekly awards. Allyson Nied was the winner on Jan. 19 after taking the platform at Georgia Tech, Vincent was honored on Jan. 26 after two wins at the quad meet, and Lauren Lamendola was picked on Feb. 2 after winning twice at ECU.
Bekemeyer won Freshman of the Week again on Jan. 26, and Harman was named Female Freshman of the Week on the same day after collecting three individual wins at the quad meet.
During the holiday break, one member of the swimming & diving program earned their degree from the University of South Carolina. Kevin Leithold was one of 17 Gamecock student-athletes to graduate in December. The Sandersdorf, Germany, native has already earned seven event victories this season, including his win in the Duke dual meet.
GAMECOCK MEN REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
After securing a big win over Purdue on Oct. 24, the men’s program moved up to 16th in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) NCAA Division I Team Rankings, and on Nov. 25, South Carolina moved up to 15th. It is the team’s best ever ranking in the poll. The Gamecocks ended the regular season ranked 22nd in the CSCAA top-25 poll, and they’re currently listed 22nd in the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings.
- Overall, the Gamecocks have posted 11 top-20 finishes as a team at the NCAA Men’s Championships.
- Carolina’s best finish came in 1987, when they finished 10th in the nation.
- This is the fourth time that Gotro has competed at Georgia Tech this season.
- The Gamecock swimmers have also raced at Georgia Tech this season, as the Yellow Jackets hosted a three-day fall invitational Nov. 19-21. Carolina placed second at the meet.