The No. 13 USC men’s swimming and diving team will take on some of the toughest competition it has seen all season as it competes at the 2010 NCAA championships this week at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion this Thursday through Saturday.
USC’s elite NCAA team includes of senior co-captains James Martin and Zoltan Povazsay juniors Clement Lefert, Richard Charlesworth, Dillon Connolly and diver Steven Starks; sophomores Jeff Daniels, co-captain Pat White and diver Harrison Jones; and freshmen Alex Lendrum and Nick Karpov.
“We are excited about our prospects this week,” USC coach Dave Salo said. “The goal is to move into the top 10 this year.”
Jones, an All-American, and Starks are the only returning NCAA point scorers for USC. Povazsay was an All-American on a relay as a freshman at West Virginia in 2007 and will be returning to the NCAA championships for the second time as a Trojan along with teammates Connolly and White.
Jones’ stellar performance at the 2010 Pac-10 championships, where he came first on the 1-meter springboard — USC’s first springboard title since 1999 — should give the sophomore confidence leading into this week’s competition.
Povazsay, Lefert, White and either Martin or Charlesworth (the final relay team is yet to be decided) are being counted on to start off the competition with a bang in the 800-yard freestyle relay, which USC won at the 2010 Pac-10s with a time of 6:19.17. The relay also saw Lefert break USC’s 200-yard freestyle record in the first leg, a time he broke again at the Pac-10 championships when he won the 200-yard freestyle individual event (1:33.75).
“We are also looking toward strong relay results — especially the 800-free relay,” Salo said.
Lefert and White are both ranked in the top eight in freestyle events. Both Trojans have had exceptional seasons and hope to finish it off with even stronger performances at the championships.
This week marks the last collegiate competition for Martin and Povazsay, who will be graduating in May, and for British teammate Charlesworth, whose NCAA eligibility expires at the end of this semester.
In his strong performance at the 2010 Pac-10 championships, Martin came in sixth in the 400-yard individual medley, but his preliminary time (3:45.96, a personal best) would have scored him second place overall.
Martin has the ability to go even faster this week in the 400-yard individual medley. He will also be competing in the 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard backstroke and 800-yard freestyle relay.
Connolly still remains the team’s strongest breaststroker, owning school records for both the 100-yard (52.73) and 200-yard breaststroke (1:55.57) and is ranked among the top eight in the 100-yard breaststroke going into the competition.
“We are a much improved team from last year,” Salo said. “The guys are relaxed and looking forward to the start of the competition.”