The No. 13 USC men’s swimming team is looking to build on its success this season and make an impact at the Pac-10 championships starting today at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif.
The team is mainly made up of freshmen and sophomores and continues to develop under a relatively new program. There is no doubt the Trojans have quite the task ahead of them, as they will be competing in arguably the toughest conference in the nation and against some of the best athletes in the world.
“We may only finish in fourth in the Pac-10,” USC coach Dave Salo said. “With Stanford, Cal and Arizona being talked about as NCAA team champions, it is easily understood that the Pac-10 swimming and diving championships are intense.”
Relays will be key, particularly the 800-yard freestyle relay, an event that USC is quickly becoming known for across the country because of its all-star lineup: sophomore Patrick White, senior Zoltan Povazsay, freshman Clement Lefert and sophomore Richard Charlesworth.
“The men feel as though that is our event to win and has been a season goal all year,” USC assistant coach Jeremy Kipp said.
The Trojan sprint relay has also made leaps and bounds since last year, with the help of sophomore Jeff Daniels who holds an NCAA consideration time in the 100-yard freestyle (43.94) and junior Emmett Walling who also holds one in the 50-yard freestyle (20.19).
“We expect our relays to compete well,” Salo said.
Though the level of performance has improved throughout the entire squad, the team will be relying on standout swimmers, such as Povaszay and co-captain White, Lefert, junior Dillon Connolly and freshman Alex Lendrum to rack up the points.
“We finally have at least two men in each event that will compete for top-3 finishes in their respective events,” Kipp said. “There is not one particular event that we look at and think we don’t have a chance to compete.”
Povaszay has been consistent in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events this season and holds NCAA consideration cuts in both events. Furthermore, Lefert’s 500-yard freestyle (4:19.60) is ranked fifth in the nation right now, and his 200-yard butterfly (1:44.28) isn’t far behind, ranking eighth in the nation.
Connolly is ranked 17th in the nation for his 100-yard breaststroke (54.44) and will be a key competitor for the Trojans in the breaststroke events this week, as he will be looking to medal and qualify for the NCAA championship.
White has performed almost every time he has entered the water this season, and the expectation is that this week will be no different. Already sporting two NCAA consideration times in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, the co-captain will be looking to further improve on these results and compete for a top-eight stop in the Pac-10.