Women of Troy prepare for tough final homestand

USC students who aren’t typically fans of collegiate swimming might find a good reason to head to Uytengsu Aquatic Center this weekend, as the No. 5 Women of Troy will be hosting Olympic champion Missy Franklin and the No. 1 Cal Bears as well as the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal.

Franklin burst into the national spotlight at the 2012 London Olympic Games, winning four gold medals and one bronze medal, and setting two world records at the age of 17.

Franklin has continued her success at Cal, currently holding the top times in the 200-yard free and the 500-yard free. Her dominance has led Cal to an undefeated season so far, including a 190-109 win over Arizona and a crushing 229-69 victory over Arizona State last weekend.

Stanford is likewise undefeated after sweeping the two Arizona teams last weekend. The Cardinal are led by All-Americans Maya DiRado and Maddy Schaefer. DiRado currently holds the nation’s top time in the 200-yard IM, while Schaefer shares the top time in the nation in the 50-yard free.

The Women of Troy’s roster also boasts multiple national leaders who have led the team to an undefeated mark. Senior All-American Kasey Carlson set the fastest time in the 100-yard free this season, the second-fastest in the 100-yard breast and the third-fastest in the 50-yard free. Sophomore Kendyl Stewart, senior Stina Gardell and sophomore Jasmine Tosky, all three of whom also earned All-American honors last season, are ranked in the top five of their events this season.

This weekend’s performance will be particularly crucial for Gardell, Carlson and the other three seniors on the Women of Troy’s roster: Lolo Blair, Meghan Hawthorne and Lynette Lim. Saturday will be Senior Day, serving as the last home meet for these decorated swimmers, who have accrued a total of 22 All-American honors between them.

Last year, the top-ranked Women of Troy pulled out a 155-145 win over California in Berkeley, Calif. with Gardell clinching the victory for USC. The next day, USC headed to Palo Alto, Calif. to take on the second-ranked Cardinal and suffered its first loss of the season, falling 158-137 to Stanford.

The fourth-ranked Women of Troy will undoubtedly aim to exact revenge this year at home. USC will host Cal on Friday at 3 p.m. and will face off against Stanford on Saturday at noon. All three teams will then head to the Pac-12 championships in Federal Way, Wash.