Fueled by multiple top-five finishes at Virginia Tech’s College Invitational earlier this month, the South Carolina swimming and diving teams are looking to set a solid foundation for nationals. They travel to College Station, Texas, this week to compete in the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships.
The past three weeks have been jam-packed for the Gamecocks. Between daily training, hosting their own invitational in late January and traveling to Blacksburg, Virginia, for the Hokies’ three-day meet earlier this month, they have had ample time to perfect their skills for the upcoming postseason.
The Gamecocks played their home field advantage well, emerging with a win for both the men and the women from the South Carolina Collegiate Invitational a few weeks ago. Gamecock diver Julia Vincent earned her second SEC Diver of the Week award following her record-breaking senior-night performance in the women's 1-meter dive. Building off of that performance, freshman Grant Summers took home first in the men's 1-meter and 3-meter events, giving the Gamecocks four diving titles on the weekend. An additional 24 event wins from South Carolina swimmers propelled the Gamecocks to the victory against three non-conference schools.
“All my girls did a phenomenal job this week. It's right where we are in our training, going into conference and it went perfect,” head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. “I think it's really important that they get a good boost before they get to the conference level. Everybody achieved that this week; there's no question about it.”
The team put up a fierce fight against an even larger group of seven non-conference schools, including Virginia Tech, William and Mary and James Madison on the road in Virginia. Totaling 29 A-final appearances across the three-day meet, the Gamecocks were able to secure five A-final and one relay first-place finish in Hokie territory.
“Our athletes who competed this week in Virginia are the tip of the spear as our team heads into our championship season,” head swimming coach McGee Moody told Gamecocks Online. “They set the tone for the rest of our team. They did a great job this weekend.”
The Gamecocks will look to build on the success they had against non-conference opponents and continue it against their conference. They will face many SEC schools this week for the first time this season, including the No. 1 Texas A&M women's team and the back-to-back-to-back SEC Champion Florida men. Moody nonetheless believes in the ability of his athletes to perform well not only this weekend but also moving forward.
“It’s been a good year from a training perspective and a competition perspective, and I know, as far as the coaching staff goes, we’re excited to see what these young men and women can do,” Moody said. “They always represent our university to the best of their ability. They make me very proud every day. They make our coaches very proud every day, so going into the next few weeks, we’re ... excited to see them perform and to realize the hard work that they’ve put in and watch it pay off.”