South Carolina redshirt junior Michael Flach (FISH/O’Connell High School) and West Virginia senior Rachael Burnett (Potomac Marlins/Annandale High School) received athlete of the week honors from their respective schools for their standout performances over the weekend.
Flach, who spent last season training for the U.S. Olympic Trials, picked up where he left off as he returned to South Carolina’s lineup to lead the Gamecocks to a 160 to 140 win over Texas A&M and earned crucial points in a 168 to 132 loss to North Carolina.
“I had butterflies leading up to this meet and I didn’t know why until I realized it had been two years since I last did this, ” said Flach in a phone interview. “But I forgot about all that once I hit the water and my body took over. It felt great to be back.”
Flach posted three first place victories for the Gamecocks, winning the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute 38.56 seconds), 200 butterfly (1:48.69) and
the 200 IM (1:50.95) — a new personal best. According to Flach, it was the first time he had swam the 200 IM since Metros in 2009.
“It was exciting to get in and do something different than what I’m used to,” said Flach. “Our team is strong enough now in the mid distance freestyle that they don’t need me there every meet, so this season I think I will get to showcase more of my versatility in dual meets. Maybe some more IM or backstroke like I swam in high school.”
Flach broke out this summer after finaling in the 200-meter butterfly at Olympic Trials in June and taking silver in the event at the U.S. Open the next month. He enters this season as one of the
highest ranked swimmers in the 200 butterfly.
Equally impressive in her season debut, Burnett earned six individual and four relay victories for the Mountaineers at the West Virginia State Games swimming invitational, hosted by West Virginia.
Burnett, took first place in the 100 freestyle (52.69), 200 freestyle (1:53.83), 500 freestyle (4:54.84), 1650 freestyle (17:08.08), 200 IM (2:05.18) and 400 IM (4:28.54), as well as competed for the winning 200 medley, 400 medley, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle relays.
Her performances in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle, 200 and 400 IM, and 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays were all pool records.
Burnett was named the Big East Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer at the 2012 Big East Championships last season. She also posted a 17th place finish in the 800-meter freestyle at Olympic Trials.
Both swimmers were named first team All-Met selections in 2008-2009 by the Washington Post.