The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks’ swimmers prepare for NCAAs

Michael Flach to compete in 3 individual events

For redshirt junior swimmer Michael Flach, the time for analyzing races is over.

As Flach and four teammates prepare to compete at NCAA championships in Indianapolis beginning today, the junior said he hasn’t set goals for times in the events he will swim. Instead, he believes if his training comes together, the times will take care of themselves.

“I’ve done the training and mental preparation leading up to it,” Flach said. “At this point, it’s more about racing and trying to get as high a place as you possibly can.”

Flach will compete in three individual events at nationals, beginning with the 500 freestyle today. He currently holds the seventh-fastest time in the nation in the event after setting a school record at SEC championships last month. Later in the weekend, Flach will race the 200-meter freestyle and the 200-meter butterfly.

This year marks the first time since 2007 that USC relays have qualified for NCAA championships. The 800 freestyle relay team, which includes Flach, juniors Gerard Rodriguez and Alex Fitton and freshman Marwan El Kamash, set a school record at the conference meet as well.

The 200 medley, 400 medley and 200 freestyle relays are also eligible to compete this week.

Coach McGee Moody said his team’s goal is to finish in the top 25. He added that one advantage the men’s team has is an extra week between the SEC championship and the NCAA meet. The women’s national championship took place last week.

“It’s easier to get them some rest after the SEC meet than it is for our girls,” Moody said. “(With) the girls, it’s much more technical because it comes up so quickly after our SEC championships.”

Flach said the biggest advantage of the extra time is that he and his teammates have a better idea of what to expect in terms of times. The winning times in the women’s meet, almost across the board, were slower than the seed times.

According to Flach, the difference could be because of the pool, the weather or an emphasis on preparing for conference meets that left swimmers drained before nationals. Seeing the women’s results gave USC swimmers a heads up not to worry too much about their times.

“If we do badly in our first day or our first event, (we know) not to be too let down by that, just to keep our heads up and get ready for the next one and know that it’s going to be more about racing and not about times this week,” Flach said.

The swimmers arrived in Indianapolis Monday. Moody said the extra time was critical to allow the swimmers to get the shock factor out of the way before they raced. Flach is making his third trip to the NCAA meet, but none of his teammates have been there before.

“They’re going to see a lot of these guys that they’ve seen at the Olympics,” Moody said. “Especially a young guy like Marwan, he has to have a level head on him.”

Flach said even though this is their first time at nationals, competing in such a strong conference has prepared them well.

“It’s definitely a little faster here — it’s on a national scale now,” Flach said. “I think the SEC being such a powerful conference in swimming has really geared us for what we’re going to see here this week.”


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