March 24, 2016
ATLANTA, Ga. – More University of South Carolina Swimming & Diving program history was made on Thursday as Akaram Mahmoud and Tomas Peribonio earned All-America spots in the 500-yard freestyle at the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships. Mahmoud broke his own school record in the event and finished fourth, while Peribonio came home in 13th.
Mahmoud and Peribonio combined to score 19 points on Thursday. With two days left at the national championships, the Gamecocks stand in 17th overall, with 23 team points.
Mahmoud’s school record came in prelims, as he won the seventh heat with a time of 4:12.59. The time was second overall in prelims and broke the South Carolina record that the sophomore set last month at the SEC Championships.
The finals race was extremely tight, with Mahmoud right on the heels of Texas freshman Townley Haas for much of the event. At the end of the race, Haas was the winner, while Mahmoud placed fourth in 4:12.86. The finish was Mahmoud’s career best at NCAAs after he came in sixth in the 1650 free and 25th in the 500 free last season. It also gave the Cairo, Egypt, native his second All-America honor in as many nights after he was part of the 800-yard freestyle relay team that placed 15th on Wednesday.
Peribonio placed 15th in the 500 free prelims, swimming a season-best time of 4:16.43. The performance was fast enough to make the consolation final by .44 seconds.
Once in the consolation final, Peribonio made the most of his opportunity. The Suwanee, Ga., native finished fifth in the heat, with a time of 4:16.60. That was good for 13th overall, scoring four valuable points for the Gamecocks and matching the sophomore’s best NCAA finish to date. He also netted an All-America spot for the second straight evening.
Freshman Cody Bekemeyer made his NCAA Championships debut on Thursday and swam the 500-yard freestyle, his first of two events in Atlanta. Bekemeyer placed 38th with a swim of 4:21.99.
Diver Jordan Gotro competed for the first time at the 2016 NCAA Championships and finished 25th in the 1-meter springboard. The junior’s score of 314.40 included an Inward 2 1/2 Somersault Tuck that was scored at 62.00. The top-25 finish was the second of Gotro’s NCAA Championships career after he also placed 25th in the same event in 2015.
HEAD SWIMMING COACH McGee Moody – “I think both of our guys tonight had a really good race. Tom swam a much better executed race than this morning. He moved up in place and scored more points for us. He had another All-American honor. It was another outstanding swim for him. Akaram ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” same thing. He took it out well. The only issue he faced tonight was that he had some guys in his heat who had really good up-front speed. I think he got a little bit lost in his race, but all in all, it was another outstanding swim for him, a fourth-place finish. It sets him up really well. He was faster today that he was at SECs. His mile was very good at SECs, so we’re looking for big things from him later on in the week. The mile is the strongest event for our guys, so we’re starting to set ourselves up for that on Saturday. We did what we needed to do today.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On his team’s All-America swims on Thursday and the future swims for his distance racers
“Getting here is one of the hardest parts for a freshman. You learn a lot once you’re here. Cody learned a lot today. He learned that these boys don’t ease into a race; they go really fast at the beginning. I think it’s good for him, and again, his best event is the mile, which is coming up on Saturday. We’ll see what he can do in that.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On Cody Bekemeyer’s NCAA debut
HEAD DIVING COACH Todd Sherritt – “Jordan has done the work. His dives are there. He’s good enough to do it. He’s got to put the list together, obviously. The 3-meter is his best event, so we’re looking forward to that tomorrow. He’s ready. He has to step up, and we will see what he does.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” On Jordan Gotro’s prospects of scoring points Friday in the 3-meter
- The fourth-place result from Mahmoud was the highest NCAA finish by any Gamecock swimmer in the Moody era.
- Mahmoud and Peribonio became the 12th and 13th Gamecocks in history to tally four career All-America honors.
- Prior to Thursday, only two Gamecocks in history had achieved All-America honors in the 500 free: Jean Arnould in 1987 and 1988, and Michael Flach in 2011.
- Mahmoud dropped nearly six seconds off his 500 free time from the 2015 NCAA meet, when he swam the race in 4:18.35.
- Peribonio also cut time off his 2015 NCAA effort in the 500 free. As a freshman, he swam the race in 4:17.51 at nationals, finishing 23rd.
- Bekemeyer is the second Gamecock to make his NCAA debut this week. Fellow freshman Fynn Minuth was on the 800 free relay team that came in 15th on Wednesday.
UP NEXT FOR CAROLINA
The 2016 NCAA Men’s Championships continue on Friday. Nils Wich-Glasen makes his 2016 NCAA debut in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Peribonio swims the 400-yard IM and Gotro dives on the 3-meter springboard. Swimming prelims start the day at 10 a.m., diving prelims begin at 12:15 p.m., and finals commence at 6 p.m.