The men’s and women’s swimming teams have an opportunity to gain momentum and confidence early in the season this weekend, when women’s swimming (2-1) faces Oregon State and No. 11 men’s swimming (3-0) takes on Cal State Bakersfield this Friday.
The men are coming off a home opening win over Hawaii with a dominating 217-108.5 showing. USC started off strongly by winning the 400y medley relay. In addition, Junior Michael Domagala won two events, the 100y free and the 200 IM.
The Trojans’ dominance continued with a pair of sweeps. USC swimmers came in first, second and third place in both the 200y back as well as the 200y breast. The 200y free relay team finished out the meet with a win as well.
The Women of Troy also defeated Hawaii 253-79, but fell to North Carolina State 190-144 last Saturday. Swimmers Chelsea Chenault, Anika Apostalon and Riley Scott each won events. Apostalon earned a NCAA “B” cut time in the 100y free, and Scott earned one in the 200y breast.
Chenault herself is coming off a win in the 500y free last weekend. She has found herself in a leadership position on the team this year, as many upperclassmen are redshirting this semester.
“I’ve had to step up more as a leader,” she said. “It’s huge for me to step in and help out because there are a lot of underclassmen on this team.”
This inexperience served as a weakness last week when the Women of Troy lost to NC State, according to coach Dave Salo.
“We have 13 freshman women, which is a huge class. They are learning what collegiate swimming is all about,” Salo said. “I don’t think I prepared them mentally for NC State.”
Given that the team is young, there is much to improve on after the loss to the Wolfpack, Salo said.
“We identified weaknesses last week on walls and turns,” Salo said. “They are sloppy and slow and not as strong as they could have been.”
Though midterm season poses another challenge to the men’s and women’s swim teams, Salo has been able to keep them focused.
“It’s a tough time with midterms,” Salo said. “The team is tired with training; their focus is hampered at times, but it’s part of my job to bark at them and get them back.”
Nonetheless, Salo’s system ensures that the team and each swimmer is growing every week.
“We are looking at personal improvements over the season so far,” he said. “We want to see improvements in competition and focus and effort the following week.”
The Oregon State Beavers are struggling this year with a current record of 0-4. Their last match resulted in a 91-140 loss to Vanderbilt. Nonetheless, Chenault does not underestimate them.
“They are a good team,” Chenault said. “We race them every year. We know what they have. We are growing each week. They are a capable team though, and its gonna be a really good meet.”
Though CSU Bakersfield started out the season with a loss to Grand Canyon, their swimmers gained some momentum last weekend at the Malibu invitational.
Salo said that the Runners have some good pieces, but he is confident that the men’s team will win Friday.
“Bakersfield is a strong mid major and our guys are weak right now because some guys are sitting out for Olympics, but we’ve got a strong, good squad,” Salo said.
This weekend will be a test of how both the men’s and women’s teams have improved. Both matches are at 2 p.m. in the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on Friday.