The No. 9 USC swimming and diving team fought its way into third place this week in the ultra-competitive Pac-10 conference, overtaking No. 4 Arizona with 1298.5 points to claim its best Pac-10 championship result since 2003.
Bay Area rivals No. 1 Stanford (1489) and No. 5 California (1341) took first and second, respectively, followed by USC and then Arizona (1223.5).
“Overall, it was an outstanding meet to be a Trojan,” senior co-captain Krissy Forelli said.
Following a Pac-10 victory last year, USC sophomore diver Victoria Ishimatsu claimed two Pac-10 titles on both the 1-meter (332.80) and 3-meter (381.15) events. Ishimatsu was named diver of the meet. Freshmen teammate Ariel Rittenhouse claimed second in the 1-meter (366.60) and third in the 3-meter (326.25).
“[Ishimatsu] dominated the event with confidence and consistency,” USC diving coach Hongping Li said. “Ariel dove beautifully as well in a tight and close contest with her teammate.”
The women started off the first night of competition with a bang, winning the 800-yard freestyle relay in 6:59.48 and crushing their school record of 7:07.59. The team was made up of juniors Presley Bard and Lyndsay DePaul and freshmen Haley Anderson and sophomore Katinka Hosszu. Bard led off the relay with a 1:44.47, breaking Hosszu’s school record (1:45.22) in the process.
“The 800 free relay was amazing. Berkeley has won the event for the past six years straight, and we broke that pattern,” senior co-captain Dina Hegazy said.
USC led the Pac-10 into day two of the conference and continued to blow its competition out of the water. Three more school records were smashed, the first by Hosszu in the 200-yard individual medley (1:55.49), another by Bard in the 50-yard freestyle (22.26) and the final by the women’s 200-yard freestyle (1:31.45) relay, which consisted of Hosszu and freshmen Lindsay Parrish, Christel Simms and Kate Shumway.
By day three, USC was ranked third and was determined to remain in the top three in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. The women made six finals appearances, including Bard who became the first Woman of Troy to claim a Pac-10 100-yard backstroke final with a time of 51.92.
DePaul broke USC’s 100-yard fly record twice during Friday’s session, first in preliminaries (52.04) and then in the finals (51.86) where she came third.
Saturday marked the last day of competition, and the Women of Troy showed no signs of slowing down. Bard touched first in the 200-yard backstroke (1:51.80) and erased Hegazy’s school record (1:53.27), which she recorded at last year’s Pac-10’s. Hegazy came fourth in the event in a time of 1:55.63.
The most exciting event of the meet was arguably Saturday’s 200-yard butterfly final, when USC dominated half the start list with four women competing in the eight-person final.
“It was the last event of the meet, and we had all the stands just cheering for USC; it was just inspirational,” Hegazy said. “Everybody was just behind the blocks screaming so hard for the girls.”
Hosszu won the event in 1:52.71, winning her first title of the conference. Stanford’s Elaine Breeden (1:53.15) and USC’s DePaul (1:53.88) came second and third, respectively.
The conference marked the last Pac-10 championships for team captains Hegazy and Forelli.
“I’m so glad this was my last Pac-10’s. I ended on a great team, and I couldn’t ask for more,” Hegazy said. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor being part of this team.”
“I think I speak for the entire team that we are really looking forward to next year with an even stronger team that will challenge for a Pac-10 team championship title and a run to the top of the NCAA championships,” USC coach Dave Salo said.