The Daily Gamecock

Swimming and diving to host Blue Devils and Royals


Forcucci to meet biggest competition of season against Duke's Lyden

The Gamecock men's and women's swimming and diving teams will be hosting the Duke Blue Devils and the Queens Royals this Saturday in the first meet since November's Nike Cup Invitational.

At the Nike Invitational, USC men's and women's teams placed fourth and third, respectively, while Duke's teams took the third and second spots. Both teams of host UNC grabbed first place positions.

Though it has been almost two months since the Invitational and the team's last meet, the athletes have been training intensely throughout the break and are expecting a hard but good competition.

"We're coming out of our heaviest training of the season, and while most everyone else goes home over the Christmas break, our swimmers stay here for the majority of the time for training," USC coach McGee Moody said about the long break. "When they don't have class and things like that, we really amp up their training almost to a different level. They're really tired right now and they're really beat up, but so is Duke and so is Queens, and it ought to be a good meet. It's more a mental thing than a physical thing right now, so our team just needs to have stronger minds than Duke."

Some of this heavy training is due to the upcoming 2012 Winter Olympic Swimming and Diving Trials, in which 17 Gamecock swimmers or divers have qualified in seven different countries. Moody and his staff will continue to train the qualifiers through trials or until some must return to the country for which they are competing.

Of the 17, Moody is particularly optimistic about junior Michael Flach's chances to make it onto the U.S. team. Flach, unlike the others, chose to redshirt this year in order to focus solely on Olympic training.

"I think our best bet this year will be Michael Flach to make the U.S. team," Moody said. "I do believe he has a very good shot in the 400 freestyle, possibly the 200 freestyle to make the relay in maybe the 4 by 200. We could have five to seven people make it. We may have no one make it. You never can tell. They just have a few days where they can be as fast as they can possibly be, so everything has to be just right."

For now, Moody and the team are focused on winning the upcoming meet by overcoming the Duke divers, who will pose a daunting threat on Saturday.

The Blue Devil divers will force the Gamecocks to rely on the skills of junior Rylan Ridenour and senior Courtney Forcucci to remain competitive. Duke senior Jessica Lyden, who qualified for 2012 Olympic Diving Trials, will provide the biggest competition to Forcucci. While Forcucci met heavy competition against several other schools, such as Florida State, Lyden will be one of her biggest in-season tests.

Luckily for USC, Forcucci holds a one-meter springboard diving score of 325.4, the best in the conference.

"Duke diving is going to be some of the biggest competition that we're going to have," Moody said. "Duke has great divers. Specifically, Courtney is going to have some of her biggest competition of the year. Duke puts out some of the best divers in the country, so both Courtney and Rylan are going to have their work cut out for them."