Relay victory sets tone for successful Pac-10 meet

After an exciting week of competition, the No. 14 USC men’s swimming and diving team finished the Pac-10 conference meet in fourth place with 521 points, behind NCAA giants Stanford (897), California (829.5) and Arizona (654.5).

Leader · Senior co-captain James Martin swam in the 800-yard relay. - Katelynn Whitaker | Daily Trojan

The competition took place at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, Calif., from Wednesday to Saturday, showcasing some of the fastest athletes in the world.

Prior to the meet, USC assistant coach Jeremy Kipp said they expected the men to “swim out of their suits.” And that’s exactly what they did.

The men started off the meet with a bang Wednesday night by winning the 800-yard freestyle relay in a time of 6:19.17. The team consisted of co-captains senior James Martin and sophomore Pat White, and freshman Clement Lefert and senior Zoltan Povazsay.

“Me, Clement, Pat and Zoltan accomplished our season goal of winning the 800-yard free relay, our first relay title since 2002,” Martin said.

It was anybody’s race at the final touch, where Povazsay managed to stretch his fingers and get to the wall .35 seconds before Stanford (6:19.52) and .62 seconds before California (6:19.79). Lefert led the relay with a 1:33.67 breaking an 11-year record which had belonged to Bela Szabados.

Coming off an already outstanding season, White and Lefert stepped it up in their individual events and stood on the podium together several times during the conference meet.

“Our top guys closed the gap significantly with the top three teams,” Martin said.

Lefert won his first Pac-10 title in the 200-yard freestyle (1:33.75), becoming the first Trojan since Keller in 2002 to win the event at Pac-10s. White battled Lefert for gold but was out-touched by his teammate and took second with a personal best time of 1:34.52.

The 500-yard freestyle also saw these two Trojans make it to the podium, with Lefert (4:16.70) and White (4:18.63) finishing second and third, respectively, behind Stanford’s David Mosko (4:14.53). Lefert was tied with Mosko with 100 yards to go before the Cardinal swimmer pulled away.

White finished off his stellar week by placing seventh in the 100-yard freestyle (43.91), followed closely by teammates sophomore Jeff Daniels (43.91) and junior Emmett Walling (44.06) who took 10th and 11th, respectively.

“Pat White began to emerge as one of the truly elite swimmers in the NCAA,” Martin said.

Lefert also took fourth in the 200-yard butterfly in 1:43.94, only slightly slower than his preliminary time of 1:43.72, which was a season best, an improvement on his NCAA consideration time and on his own school record.

Martin stepped it up in the prelims of the 400-yard individual medley and qualified first for the finals in a personal best time of 3:45.96 but was only able to muster a sixth place finish in the final, swimming a 3:48.32.

Junior Dillon Connolly took third in the 100-yard breaststroke in 52.73 and eighth in the 200-yard breaststroke, 1:57.09. His prelim time in the 200-yard (1:55.96) was a season best.