The USC women’s swim team entered the 2011 NCAA women’s swimming and diving national championships with the same goal it had all season: placing in the top five.
This was USC’s best performance at the NCAA competition since 2003. Not only did No. 6 USC swimmers finish off their season with the third-place victory, but junior Katinka Hosszu walked away with Swimmer of the Meet honors.
“You always get bumps in the road,” said USC coach Dave Salo. “But the women didn’t get too rattled and it was a tremendous effort. They got caught up in the excitement and didn’t worry about times; they just got out and raced really hard.”
The Women of Troy began competition at the NCAAs on Thursday, finishing in second place after the first day of events.
Georgia proved to be a strong competitor from the start, leading the field after day one. By the second day, however, the Golden Bears took the lead and the Women of Troy fell to third place, where they would remain for the rest of the competition.
“We were still under everybody’s radar [the first day], they didn’t really know how we were going to do,” Salo said. “We had a really good morning and from that point on, we were just meeting our goals.”
Although they started strong, the Women of Troy did not put all their focus on that initial ranking.
“We knew that there were two long days of competition left, so we didn’t want to get caught up in the point game,” said senior co-captain Presley Bard. “We wanted to focus on our performances, and knew that those would take care of the points.”
Named Swimmer of the Meet, Hosszu also became the second USC swimmer on the team to win three NCAA titles in the same year. With titles in the 200- and 400-yard individual medley as well as the 200-yard fly, she helped lead the team to the podium at NCAAs.
Another notable USC swimmer at the meet was senior co-captain Lyndsay DePaul. She finished off her college swimming career as a three-time finalist at the competition, and also earned individual All-American honors for the third time.
The Women of Troy now have their eyes set on next year’s goals, despite the looming departure of key seniors.
“No team is ever the same, every year is a different team,” Bard said. “I think that the team [next year] will be good. I think Lyndsay and I did a good job preparing them. Because we have people like Kasey [Carlson] and Katinka [Hosszu] on the team, it will be fine without Lyndsay and I.”
Under the radar all season, the Women of Troy made a strong statement to bring their 2010-11 season to a close.
USC hopes its strong finish is a sign of things to come.
“A lot of programs have not really considered our team to be significant,” Salo said. “This year we finally turned that corner. We are back where we belong, a top five program.”