Seniors Katinka Hosszu and Victoria Ishimatsu and junior Haley Anderson helped spearhead USC’s efforts in the 2012 NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships, winning a combined four titles between Thursday and Saturday to lead the Trojans to a second-straight third-place finish at Auburn’s James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala.
This marks USC’s third-ever third-place finish at the NCAAs, as well as its 10th top-five finish and 24th top-10 finish. California took home the win, followed by Georgia, USC, Stanford and Arizona.
“While not a flawless meet at NCAAs, it was probably as close to perfect as you might get in any major competition,” six-year USC coach Dave Salo said. “We weren’t batting 1.000, but I would grade it at least a .750 in baseball terms — and that is pretty good.”
Salo said he was proud of the effort that his team put forth at the championships.
“They swam very well, had great spirit and had the experience that makes competing in college all worthwhile,” Salo said. “Great personal lessons are learned under stressful competitive situations that characterize Division-I sports.”
Ishimatsu and Anderson started the event off on Thursday with wins in the 1-meter springboard and 500-yard freestyle, respectively. Ishimatsu’s win marked her first NCAA title, and USC’s first NCAA diving title since 2006, while Anderson’s win beat her school record by two seconds (4:34.48), and was USC’s first NCAA title in the event since Lindsay Benko in 1999. It also marked Anderson’s first NCAA title.
Thursday was the first time since 1997 USC won two events on the same day of the NCAA championship. That year, Kristine Quance won the 200-yard breastroke, while Benko won the 200-yard backstroke.
Hosszu would represent the Women of Troy in the victory circle for the next two days, winning the 400-yard individual medley. Her time of 3:56.54 shattered the previous NCAA record set by Julia Smit in 2010 (3:58.23).
Hosszu ended the tournament with five NCAA titles, third-most in USC history behind Kristine Quance (eight) and Rebecca Soni (six). She also earned the maximum seven All-American honors, becoming the first person to do that since Quance in 1997, bringing her total up to 20. The last person with 20 or more All-American honors in a career was Benko, who earned 21 from 1996-1999. Her 57 individual points tied Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz for the most in the tournament.
The four overall titles also marks USC’s most since winning four in 1997, and the three individual winners matches their 1980 record for most individual champions in a season.
Salo has high expectations for next season as well. “Nothing less than a top five performance next year is expected,” Salo said. “And we will guide our team through that process next season.”