The No. 13 USC men’s swimming and diving team fell to No. 4 California (158-136) and No. 2 Stanford (174-125) over the weekend.
The Trojans showcased many nail-biting finishes and close calls, but it wasn’t enough to overthrow the Bay Area Pac-10 giants.
However, the men have made up immense ground since the last time these teams met, and for the first time in a long time made the Golden Bears and the Cardinals work for their victory.
“I think the guys are starting to recognize that they can compete against a team like Stanford and Cal,” USC coach Dave Salo said. “The psychological realization is huge.”
The men fell harder to Cal on Friday, despite the overall score showing a smaller defeat. Junior Richard Charlesworth won the 1000-yard freestyle in a 9:22.46, and came second behind USC senior Zoltan Povazsay, who clocked a 4:26.96 and scored himself an NCAA consideration ‘B’ cut.
The competition marked the final dual meet for Povazsay, as well as graduating seniors Evan Marcus and captain James Martin who won the 400-yard individual medley with a 3:57.79.
USC’s top breaststroker Dillon Connolly won the 200-yard (1:59.92) and came second in the 100-yard breaststroke (55.22), behind Cal’s Damir Dugonjic who clocked a new pool record of 54.20.
The races were closer on Saturday against Stanford and often came down to the touch.
USC’s 200-yard medley relay caused an upset by beating Stanford in the first event of the day in a time of 1:29.38.
“The medley relay was a big boost,” Salo said. “USC hasn’t beat Stanford in that relay for four or five years.”
The team included freshmen Alex Lendrum, junior Clement Lefert, Connolly and sophomore Jeff Daniels.
The 200-yard freestyle was arguably the most exciting race of the day for the Trojans. The field was neck and neck the entire way, with USC sophomore captain Pat White holding a strong lead until the last 50 yards, when Povazsay, Lefert and Stanford’s Rob Andrews all made their move.
It was anybody’s race as four of the fastest 200-yard freestylers in the country battled it out until the final yards, where Povazsay out-stretched the rest at the finish and claimed first place in a time of 1:36.44. There was barely an inch between the other three, who hammered into the wall with less than a second between them. Lefert was second in 1:37.07, Stanford’s Andrews third in 1:37.31 and White took fourth place in a 1:37.70.
Lefert went on to win the 100-yard butterfly in a 48.59.
The Trojans diving team competed last weekend during the women’s Stanford and Cal dual meet, where sophomore Harrison Jones dominated the competition by winning both the 1-meter and the 3-meter against both schools.