USC’s swimming and diving team is accelerating into a new season, hoping to continue the momentum gained over an impressive summer of competition and welcomes a freshman class that rivals any others in the nation. With the women’s recruiting class ranked No. 1 and the men’s ranked No. 3 in the US, its likely to be a fiercely competitive year for this new group of Trojans.
On the women’s side, Haley Anderson gave USC a thrilling preview of what to expect from her freshman season with her stunning performance at the US World Championships trials. Anderson earned herself a spot on the US World’s team in the 800 freestyle, coming in second place with a personal best 8:26.34.
Anderson went on to compete in Rome, where she took ninth place in the 1500 freestyle, achieving a best time of 16:20.62 and just barely missing out on a spot in the finals.
“For my first international experience I was really happy with my overall performance at Worlds. I definitely learned a lot,” Anderson said.
The success didn’t stop there this summer for the new Women of Troy, with Jordan Danny, Jessica Schmitt and Yumi So all making finals in the US Open, National Championships. Schmitt showed off her moves by making finals in the 100 and 200 individual medley as well as the 200 breaststroke, a versatility that will be vital in dual meets this season.
“This year’s freshmen cover a wide range of disciplines and distances,” said assistant coach Catherine Vogt. “It’s a really well balanced group of women with a lot of depth.”
Joining these bright-eyed freshmen are some ladies with a little more college experience: All-Americans Presley Bard and Lyndsay DePaul both transferred to USC in the spring and are ready to go.
“I’m excited to be a part of the beginning of this young group; this team is only moving forward,” NCAA Top-8 finalist Presley Bard said. “Because this is my fourth year of college, I can help guide the freshmen as well as go through this new experience with them, and I think that’s important.”
DePaul had outstanding success this summer at the World University Games, winning silver in both the 400 individual medley and the 200 freestyle.
“Lyndsay swam extremely fast,” Bard said. “And seeing her do that off Coach Salo’s program has given me great hope.”
Continuing the Olympic tradition of USC’s swimming and diving team, freshmen Christel Simms and diver Ariel Rittenhouse each represented their countries in Beijing in 2008. Simms, a sprint-freestyler from Hawaii, was just the seventh woman to represent the Philippines in the Olympics, finishing 41st in the 100 freestyle and 47th in the 50 freestyle.
Rittenhouse, a long-standing USA National Swimming Team member, is one of the country’s top female divers and finished fourth in 3-meter synchronized swimming in Beijing.
For the men’s team, French national champion and 2008 Olympian Clement Lefert crossed the Atlantic to join the Trojan legacy, after competing at the World Swimming Championships and the European short-course championships. Lefert clocked the second-fastest French time ever in the 200 butterfly at French Open Nationals with a 1:55.05.
British national champion Richard Charlesworth made a similar voyage this January to the sunny shores of Los Angeles, where he has spent the past eight months preparing for his first college season and acclimatizing to the warm weather.
Charlesworth also competed in Rome this summer, representing Great Britain in the 800 and 1500 freestyle and open water events.
“Getting to race in both open water and in a pool was a great experience in Rome, the championships were a fantastic learning experience and I am keen to do it again,” Charlesworth said.
And speaking of talent, Alex Lendrum from Phoenix, one of this year’s top US recruits, decided USC was the place to be. His 400 IM will undoubtedly dominate the Pac-10 and looks to have serious NCAA Top-8 potential.
The team also scored one of the fastest high school sprinters in the country, Morgan Henderson-Kunz, who holds the number one 100-yard freestyle time and the second fastest 50-yard freestyle time for incoming freshmen in the nation this year.
“Morgan will definitely be an impact kid,” said assistant coach Jeremy Kipp. “He’ll bring something to the fight and be a big factor in competition.”
Emmett Walling, the junior college record holder in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breastroke, will further solidify the return of USC’s male sprint program, which is looking to finally silence Pac-10 rivals Cal and Stanford.
California locals Spencer DiDio, Justin DiFederico, Blake Cushing and Pieter Kranenburg all provide immediate help at the Pac-10 level with the potential to make great strides individually.
For the Women of Troy, freshmen Lolo Blair and Lindsay Parrish come to USC as two of the top recruits from Santa Barbara, while freshmen Lili Shiota and Kate Shumway, the Illinois state champion, both come into this season as national qualifiers. Freshman Chelsea Wild from Irvine will be a great asset to the team’s prevailing distance program, and also comes into this program as a national qualifier.
“I’m very excited about the momentum this team has gathered over summer, and I’m excited to ride that momentum and start getting this team back to the top of NCAAs,” said coach Dave Salo.
These freshmen may look young and naïve, but don’t be fooled; this outstanding selection of athletes has the potential to pull USC back to the top. College swimming be prepared: The Trojans are coming.