With a recent sweep of UCSB under its belt, the USC men’s swim and dive team will be sending nine representatives — eight swimmers and one diver — to compete at the Southern Methodist University Invitational this weekend.
The SMU Invite is a long-standing competition in which six teams, including host SMU, are invited to attend. Michigan and Florida will be among the six squads attending the invite. Both the Gators and the Wolverines were in the top 10 at the 2010 NCAA Championships, along with SMU.
“Our team is coming off a tough two weeks of dedicated training over the holidays and while a bit tired from the challenge, I am certain they are ready for the competitive challenge that they face at the SMU Classic,” USC coach David Salo said.
While in the past the Trojans have gone to the SMU Invite without a diver, they will be completing the package this year by sending senior Steven Starks in addition to seven swimmers. Joining Starks will be some of the team’s most promising swimmers — freshmen Chase Bloch, Dimitri Colupaev, Vlad Morozov, Jack Wagner; sophomores Clement Lefert and Alex Lendrum; junior Pat White and senior co-captain Dillon Connolly will all be participating as well.
Even though four out of eight swimmers going to the invitational are freshmen, the Trojans will be tough contenders this weekend because of the intensity of the young talent they have.
“I think the freshmen have done pretty well so far,” Bloch added. “We were a highly recruited class and I think we are living up to that to a certain extent but we have a ways to go to finish strong.”
The ultimate goal of the men’s swim team was clear when they started their season and this invitational is a stepping-stone towards achieving it according to Bloch.
“Our goal from the beginning of the season was to finish top five,” he said. “We started off ranked 14th or 15th and we have definitely climbed and are working towards our goal.”
After this invitational both the men and women’s teams will compete against Cal and Stanford in two highly anticipated dual meets. While highly ranked, the Trojan teams anticipate a challenge in the two schools from northern California.
“All of us [USC, Cal, Stanford] should be top five, but we should hopefully beat them,” Connolly said. “It should potentially be really close.”
Even with two weeks of preparation and no resting period behind them, the Trojans feel optimistic about their performances to come at the 29th annual SMU Invitational. They will start competition on Friday, and it will continue until Saturday.