Trojans ready for Pac-12 swimming championships

The No. 5 USC men’s swimming squad, led by four All-Americans, will compete in the Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships at the East Los Angeles College Swim Center in Monterey Park, Calif. on Wednesday.

“The men’s team continues to improve over the past five years and the 2012 edition is probably the best that I have had the pleasure to coach,” said USC coach David Salo. “Last year we finished third in the Pac-10 and seventh in the NCAA Championships. With the maturation of last year’s team, I expect that competing for the top three spots in the Pac-12 is realistic along with a top five performance at the National Championships.”

Salo said he is happy with the direction of the program. “We expect to be a top five program in the country year in and year out and will be able to contend for a NCAA Championship title from this level of performance. We have a great coaching staff and tremendous support from the university to provide our student-athletes with all the resources to be successful in the classroom and in the pool.”

USC (4-3, 2-3), despite the confidence of its coach and the university, sits in the most competitive swimming and diving conference in the country. The conference currently has four teams ranked in the top six in the nation (No. 1 Arizona, No. 3 Stanford, No. 5 USC, No. 6 California), and Stanford has won the last 30 conference team championships, beginning their streak in 1982.

USC is hoping to build on last season’s strong performance in the postseason, where they finished third in the Pac-10 and seventh in the NCAA Championships. They also hope to maintain their momentum carried over from their win over Pac-12 rival Utah in the final meet of the season, where freshman Cristian Quintero won the 500-yard and 1650-yard in his swimming debut.

“Cristian was a big pickup as he is an immediate threat to score big in the 200-500-1650 freestyle events as well as contribute significantly to our relays,” Salo said. “Aside from Cristian, we expect the usual big time performances from Vlad Morozov and Dima Colupaev as well as Alex Lendrum.”

The championships begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday with the 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle, and continue through Saturday.