The Daily Gamecock

Swimming finishes 15th in freestyle relay at NCAAs

Gamecocks’ coach McGee Moody expects team to be better next season

South Carolina men’s swimming team failed to have a single competitor qualify to the NCAA Championships in 2012. This season, the Gamecocks sent five to the event which concluded Saturday.

“I think it is one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” coach McGee Moody said.

South Carolina also earned All-American honors by finishing in 15th place in the 800 freestyle relay. Juniors Michael Flach, Gerard Rodriguez and Alex Fitton, as well as freshman Marwan El Kamash, became the first Gamecocks to receive the honor since 2007.

“That relay was just so much fun … and I’m really proud of those guys,” Flach said.

Despite the team’s performance in the relay, Flach said he was disappointed in his own performance in the individual events.

“It was definitely an up-and-down weekend,” Flach said. “We all had pretty high hopes coming into it, me especially in individual events. As the weekend was panning out, I realized that I wasn’t on my best … Sometimes that’s just the way it works out.”

He said his performance in those events motivated him to swim stronger in the relay.

“We had a lot of fight. Even though we knew we weren’t on our best, we still fought and earned some pretty good points,” Flach said. “There was definitely a little more pressure there, but at the end of the day we were just having fun and we went out and we had a blast.”

Due to the NCAA’s selection process, South Carolina was unable to send its fastest breaststroke racer to the championship. As a result, the Gamecocks used Rodriguez, a 200 freestyler, to compete in the breaststroke leg of the relay.

“Gerard actually split 54.98 in the 100 breaststroke, which is pretty amazing considering that he’s not a breast-stroker,” Moody said.

El Kamash was the only freshman of the team who made it to Indianapolis. He performed well in the relay and helped the team earn All-American honors.

“He had a hard time understanding some of the English that’s spoken to him,” Moody said. “He just came in and did what he does best.”

South Carolina looks to continue improving as the team heads into the next season of competition.

“We’re not even finished with this year, and we’re already looking forward to next year,” Flach said.

Moody said he expects USC to be better in the competition next season. The Gamecocks will lean on the experience of the five competitors who qualified to the NCAA Championship since none of them will graduate this year.

Flach also noted that the Gamecocks are bringing in “one of the best freshman classes we have ever had at South Carolina.”

“Once you piece that all together,” he said, “we are all getting excited just thinking about it.”