Moody Welcomes 11 Newcomers to South Carolina Swimming & Diving Program
July 20, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Head Coach McGee Moody is proud to announce the University of South Carolina swimming & diving program’s incoming class of signees. Moody and the Gamecocks will welcome newcomers Carter Bennett, Emily Cornell, Will Countie, Itay Goldfaden, Albury Higgs, Christina Lappin, Edith Lingmann, Kevin Liu, Jordan MacDonald, Ana Menendez Nava and Will Riggs to the South Carolina roster in 2016-17.
“We’re excited about adding the incoming class to what is already a strong team,” Moody said. “They meet a lot of the needs that we have, and they address the holes left by our recent graduates with the events they swim. We’re looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish over the next four years.”
Bennett is a native of McLean, Va., where he swims for Machine Aquatics under head coach Daniel Jacobs. He will swim the sprint freestyle events for the Gamecocks after qualifying for a second swim in the 50-meter free at the 2015 Speedo Junior Nationals.
“Carter is going to swim the 50 and 100 freestyle for us right away,” Moody said. “He excels in the 50, and our goal is to stretch him out and get him to swim a better 100 and have him score points for us at the SEC Championships.”
Cornell hails from West Chester, Pa., and will swim the backstroke events at South Carolina. She swims for Suburban Seahawks Club and was a Pennsylvania state champion in multiple events
“Emily is an outstanding backstroke swimmer who will immediately strengthen our 100 and 200 backstroke,” Moody said. “We think she will have a big impact in February and March as part of our SEC and NCAA Championships teams.”
Countie swims for Marlins of Raleigh in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. A backstroke swimmer and sprint freestyler, he qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100m backstroke and was a North Carolina state finalist in multiple events throughout his high school career.
“Will is a great backstroke swimmer from a strong Marlins of Raleigh program with a great coach in Paul Silver,” Moody said. “We are expecting him to come in and compete as the 100 backstroke leg on our medley relays and put us in a position to have our medley relays qualify for the NCAA Championships.”
Goldfaden is a native of Bat Hefer, Israel, and competes as a member of the Israel National Team. He won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2014 European Junior Championship and is a two-time Israeli national champion in the 50m breaststroke.
“Itay is a breaststroke swimmer with great speed, and we’re looking to build up his endurance,” Moody said. “We’re going to look for him to solidify his 100 breaststroke and possibly stretch into the 200 breaststroke. He is also an outstanding sprint freestyler, so he addresses a lot of the needs we have on our men’s roster.”
Higgs is a native of Huntersville, N.C., and she competes as a member of SwimMAC Carolina under head coach David Marsh. She represented the Bahamas national team at the 2015 FINA Junior World Championships and will also compete for the Bahamas at the 2016 Junior Pan-Pacific Championships. She specializes in the breaststroke and medley events.
“Albury has been in the Charlotte area for a few years and represents the Bahamas at the international level,” Moody said. “We’re looking forward to seeing her results from the Junior Pan-Pacs in August and watching the impact she makes for us this coming season at the SEC and NCAA Championships.”
Lappin will represent the Gamecocks in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events. She comes to Carolina from Iron Station, N.C., where she was a member of SwimMAC Carolina. Lappin was a four-time North Carolina state champion.
“Christina is an outstanding sprint freestyle and butterfly swimmer,” Moody said. “We think she can immediately come in and challenge our program records in all three of her primary events. She’s a young lady who can help put our medley relays in a position to make the NCAA Championships with her butterfly leg.”
Lingmann joins the Gamecock program out of Kuwait, where she is the national record-holder in the 50m freestyle. She will specialize in sprint freestyle events at Carolina.
“Edith is a very talented sprinter out of Kuwait who is a very raw talent,” Moody said. “We are aiming to help her develop that talent into points at the SEC and NCAA Championships. She also solidifies our relays, and we’re going to see exactly how many of those relays she can be a part of.”
A native of Upper Saint Clair, Pa., Liu will swim the backstroke events for the Gamecocks. The Upper Saint Clair Swim Club representative swam both the 100m and 200m backstroke at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. He was a three-time state finalist in Pennsylvania.
“Kevin is going to come in and challenge for the top spot in our backstroke events,” Moody said. “We are looking for him to provide leadership and depth and also to challenge for a medley relay spot.”
MacDonald comes to South Carolina after swimming under head coach Natasha Kremer at Titusville Swim Team in Titusville, Fla. She is a sprint freestyle and butterfly swimmer who was a four-time state finalist in Florida.
“Jordan was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and she’s a very strong, powerful swimmer,” Moody said. “She is going to to compete at sprint freestyle and butterfly. She’s been battling an illness this summer, but we’re looking forward to getting her on-campus and seeing what she can contribute.”
Hailing from Asturias, Spain, Menendez Nava is one of Spain’s top junior breaststroke swimmers. She represented her native country at the 2014 European Junior Championships and was a finalist in multiple events at the 2016 Spanish Open National Championships.
“Ana is joining a very strong breaststroke group under the leadership of Kevin Swander,” Moody said. “He’s done a great job developing Emma Barksdale, Kersten Dirrane and Brittany Oxley, and we’re looking forward to adding Ana to that group. We think she has the ability to be a finalist at the SEC Championships and qualify for the NCAA Championships.”
Riggs is a 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier who earned a spot on the U.S. team at the 2016 Junior Pan-Pacific Championship as one of the top butterfly swimmers in the nation. He finished in the top-30 at Olympic Trials in the 200m butterfly and swims for NOVA Aquatics and head coach Geoff Brown out of Richmond, Va.
“Will is coming off a very strong performance at U.S. Olympic Trials,” Moody said. “We’re expecting him to contribute in the butterfly events and possibly at distance freestyle. After he gets back from the Junior Pan-Pacific Championships in August, we think he will have a big freshman year collegiately.”
The 11 newcomers join a Gamecock team that returns seven student-athletes that achieved All-America laurels at the 2016 NCAA Championships. South Carolina finished 17th overall on the men’s side at the 2016 NCAA meet, their best result since 1991.
Moody’s program also sent 11 swimmers and one diver to U.S. Olympic Trials last month. Two Gamecocks will represent their homelands at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio: swimmer Akaram Mahmoud (Egypt) and diver Julia Vincent (South Africa).