Ninth-ranked USC hopes to open season strong against Oregon State

Expectations for the upcoming season have been high all summer at USC McDonald’s Swim Stadium.

Now, the No. 9 women’s swimming and diving team has a chance to validate the hype in its opener today against Oregon State. And the team is looking to make a statement.

Diving in ·Although it is the first meet of the season, the women’s swimming team has high expectations for its meet this weekend against Oregon State. “I expect us to throw down some significant times,” coach Dave Salo said. - Daily Trojan file photo

“I expect us to throw down some significant times,” said USC coach Dave Salo. “We want to send a message that we’re one of the top-five teams in the country.”

Fresh off an encouraging seventh-place finish at last season’s NCAA Championships, the Women of Troy field an enviable mix of accomplished returning swimmers and new talent.  Six All-Americans are back for another season, including senior captains Presley Bard and Lyndsay DePaul.  USC also boasts a star-studded freshmen class led by breaststroke standout Kasey Carlson.

“Kasey will help us tremendously in our relay performances,” Salo said.  “She should replace Rebecca Soni in the breaststroke.”

Salo is not alone in expecting big things from his freshmen. DePaul said the new additions have fit right in.

“Our freshmen are amazing,” DePaul said. “Right from the start they’ve had an attitude to work hard and kick butt.”

First up for the Women of Troy is Oregon State, which finished seventh at the Pac-10 Championships last season.

“Oregon State is not one of the strongest teams [we’ll face],” Salo said. “[But] the Beavers always have a couple of good swimmers.”

The opponent might not be imposing, but USC is certainly not discounting the Beavers.  DePaul said the team set a goal to win every dual meet, regardless of the opponent.  This weekend is just another step toward achieving that goal.

“Our standards are really high,” Bard said. “We want to finish in the top four [nationally], and we’re all really confident we can do that.”

According to Salo, today’s meet will be a good opportunity to evaluate where his team is at in its training. Most of the swimmers will compete in one of their primary events and several of their weaker events.

“It’s good timing for us to have a competition as we prepare for Arizona and Arizona State in November,” he said.

Action kicks off at noon at the USC McDonald’s Swim Stadium. UC Davis, which was initially scheduled to take part in the meet, pulled out of the competition. Because the Beavers do not have any divers, USC will only compete in swimming.

“We’re excited to get out there and compete,” Bard said. “Hopefully this meet will let other universities around the country know that USC is back.”