Unusual Suspects | South Carolina's Dominant D-Group

Unusual Suspects | South Carolina's Dominant D-Group
Photo: Craig Bisacre
In Unusual Suspects, we profile both men's and women's programs that have quietly experienced some success the past few years and are poised to break out at the 2018 NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships.

Under the leadership of head coach McGee Moody, the South Carolina men's team has always had a handful of studs experience success at the elite level -- namely NCAAs -- including Michael Flach, Kyle Cormier, Nick Walkotten, and Marwan El Kamash, before he transferred to Indiana as a senior.

But ever since Mark Bernardino -- coach of 27 ACC championship teams at Virginia -- arrived as associate head coach in Columbia, SC, in 2014, things have seemingly shifted for the better -- especially with the distance group and IMers.

While the SEC is a formidable gauntlet of depth in college swimming, the Gamecocks have fared pretty well recently. But they have made their biggest jump up the rankings where it counts most with their continual improvement at NCAAs, which you can see below.

2014 Results
SEC Championships -- 10th
NCAA Championships -- 34th

2015 Results
SEC Championships -- 7th
NCAA Championships -- 19th

2016 Results
SEC Championships -- 7th
NCAA Championships -- 17th

2017 Results
SEC Championships -- 8th
NCAA Championships -- 15th

South Carolina is led primarily by Fynn Minuth, Akaram Mahmoud, Tom Peribonio, Cody Bekemeyer, and Nils Wich-Glasen. Those five guys were solely responsible for all of South Carolina's 99 points at the 2017 NCAA Championships, which resulted in a 15th-place finish -- the Gamecocks' highest result since 1988.

Even better -- all five of them are returning for the 2017-2018 season.

Minuth, Mahmoud, Peribonio, and Bekemeyer were all on USC's only scoring relay as well -- a 13th-place 800 freestyle relay which accounted for eight of their 99 points.

The Heavy Hitters

Fynn Minuth

Event Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
500 Freestyle 4:09.55 5th
200 Freestyle 1:33.59* 29th
200 Butterfly 1:42.05 13th

Akaram Mahmoud

Event Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
500 Freestyle 4:09.73 6th
1650 Freestyle 14:22.99 3rd

Tom Peribonio

Event Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
500 Freestyle 4:14.09 12th
400 IM 3:40.24 9th
1650 Freestyle 14:44.57 15th

Cody Bekemeyer

Event Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
500 Freestyle 4:17.73 26th
400 IM 3:45.70 24th
1650 Freestyle 14:44.17 13th

Nils Wich-Glasen

Event Lifetime Best 2017 NCAA Finish
200 IM 1:45.03 Did Not Swim
100 Breaststroke 51.58 8th
200 Breaststroke 1:52.41 6th

Brandonn Almeida

Almeida is an incoming freshman from São Paulo, Brazil. While he does not have any experience in short course yards, his resume in the long course meters pool speaks for itself. What events does he swim, you ask? The 400m/800m/1500m freestyle and 200m/400m IM, of course. Check out his best times in LCM below. While Almeida isn't proven on the NCAA scene yet, you can bet he will make a significant impact for the Gamecocks this season.

Event (LCM) Lifetime Best
400m Freestyle 3:49.46
800m Freestyle 7:59.49
1500m Freestyle 15:11.70
200m IM 2:00.79
400m IM 4:12.49
200m Backstroke 1:59.71

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