Gamecock swimmer, diver compete in Summer Olympics
The University of South Carolina swimming and diving program continued to leave its mark on the 2016 Summer Olympics on Friday, as student-athletes Akaram Mahmoud and Julia Vincent competed at the biggest event in international athletics. Egypt’s Mahmoud swam his second race of the week, the men’s 1,500-meter freestyle, while South Africa’s Vincent made her Olympic debut in the women’s 3-meter springboard dive.
Mahmoud closed out his first Olympic journey by placing 11th in the 1,500, while Vincent came in 29th on the board.
Vincent became the fourth Carolina diver in program history to compete at the Olympics with her efforts Friday. She is the first Gamecock Olympian in the sport of diving since 2004.
Mahmoud exits Rio with his best finish of the competition. The rising junior placed 27th in the 400m freestyle on Aug. 6.
Mahmoud spent much of his heat in the top three and just narrowly missed out on securing a spot in Saturday’s medal finals. He was in third place through 1,050 meters, with a time of 10:24.57, before ultimately finishing fifth in his heat. His final time of 14:58.37 was 11th overall and just 2.97 seconds behind the eighth overall position and a place in the finals.
Still, Mahmoud’s swim puts him in lofty position among Gamecock swimming Olympians. His 11th-place finish is the highest for a South Carolina swimmer at the Olympics since 2000, when Istvan Bathazi placed 10th in the 400m IM and Zsolt Gaspar was 11th in the 100m butterfly in Sydney.
Mahmoud’s 11th-place result is also historic on a national scale. It’s the best Olympic finish by an Egyptian swimmer in the nation’s history.
“I thought he had a solid race,” South Carolina head swimming coach McGee Moody said. “He was right where he needed to be up until the 1200-meter mark. I think he started to get a little too tired and couldn’t finish the race the way he wanted to. Overall, I think this was a successful Olympics for him. Now we will let him take a few weeks to rest, and then start preparing for 2020 in Tokyo.”
Vincent was ranked in 28th position after her first dive, an inward 2½ somersault, received a score of 48.60, but she moved up to 24th after her forward 2½ somersault twist was scored at 58.50. After her third dive, a forward 3½ somersault, was marked at 21.70, she moved to 29th.
The rising sophomore rebounded nicely on her fourth dive, a back 2½ somersault that received a 54.00. Her last dive, a reverse 2½ somersault, was awarded a score of 37.50. Her total score of 220.30 was good for 29th place, with the top 18 moving on to the semifinals.
With the Olympics now in the rearview mirror, Mahmoud, Vincent and the Gamecocks will turn their attention to the 2016-17 collegiate season. Both student-athletes are coming off All-America campaigns, with Mahmoud winning the SEC title and finishing second at the NCAA Championships in the 1650-yard freestyle, and Vincent placing fourth nationally in the 1-meter dive.
South Carolina’s season begins Oct. 7 at the Florida Gulf Coast Invite in Fort Myers, Fla.