The No. 1-ranked USC Women’s swim and dive team is splitting up this weekend to begin its 2013-14 campaign — several select members will travel to Dallas, Tex. to swim in the SMU Classic while the rest of the Women of Troy will head to Pullman, Wash. to compete against Washington State.
Only eight swimmers and one diver are allowed to compete in the SMU Classic, which takes place this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. CT. Those few hand-picked members will swim against North Carolina, Indiana, Louisville, Miami and host SMU. USC will be sending eight All-Americans to the meet, with the ninth member being freshman and U.S. national team member Chelsea Chenault.
The rest of the team will compete in its first conference meet of the season at Washington State.
Even though USC will be forced to split up this weekend, the team is confident that they can come out victorious in both competitions.
“We have full confidence in each other that we can get the work done and come home with a win for USC,” senior All-American Meghan Hawthorne said.
Last year, the Women of Troy won the SMU Classic by 73.5 points over second-place North Carolina while also beating San Diego during the same weekend by 32 points. USC beat Washington State later in the season by a score of 137-58. The team finished its 2012-13 campaign by finishing second in the Pac-12 meet and placing 7th in the national meet.
“Our biggest competitions are still to come,” senior captain Kasey Carlson said. “But the ability to swim fast in October both at the SMU invite and versus Washington State will carry through the rest of the season.”
Though the girls will have to rely on underclassmen to step up and compete after graduating six swimmers who scored points in the national meet last year, they also have a lot of leadership and strong talent returning with All-American seniors Hawthorne, Carlson and Stina Gardell. Other returning USC All-American swimmers include senior Lynette Lim, redshirt junior Andrea Kropp and and sophomores Kendyl Stewart, Jasmine Tosky and Kasia Wilk. All except Lim will be competing in the SMU Classic, as will redshirt junior All-American diver Haley Ishimatsu.
“The SMU Invite will provide a tough challenge for this team, as well as a great opportunity to race early in the season,” Carlson said. “The No. 1 ranking does put a large target on our backs, but we are ready to keep that top spot and fight for a trophy at the NCAA [meet] in March.”
Follow Will on Twitter @WillLaws