COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of Arkansas swimming and diving team begins the 2006-07 season Friday, Oct. 13, traveling to Columbia, S.C. to face Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina at 4 p.m. “I am glad that we have South Carolina as our first opponent,” said first year swimming and diving head coach Jeff Poppell. “I prefer to start off our schedule on the stronger side. It’s an opportunity for our athletes to be able to compete against the athletes that they are going to compete against in the SEC Championships in February.” The Gamecocks return 19, including all-American Christy Williams, and welcome nine newcomers. Last year USC finished with a dual-meet record of 5-5 and placed sixth at the SEC Championships, three spots ahead of Arkansas. South Carolina leads the all-time series 7-2 and won the last meeting in 2003, 127-116. Leading the 2006-07Arkansas squad are senior captains Mariann Fulop and Kristen Thibodeaux. Joining the 12 returning letterwinners are five newcomers, including three freshman and two transfers. Also in his first year with the program is assistant coach Todd Mann. Mann comes from The Bolles School where he worked with Poppell as the senior assistant coach and assistant aquatics director. Head diving coach Scott Reich returns for his fifth season. Poppell coaches his first collegiate meet Friday and wants the Lady’Backs to gain much individual achievement this season. “I’m very excited about coaching here at the University of Arkansas and the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level,” said Poppell. “My goal as a coach is to make our athletes as successful as possible and they are working their tails off right now so that is great.” For more information about Arkansas swimming and diving, log on to LADYBACKS.COM.