In preparation for its final dual meet of the season, the No. 6 USC women’s swimming and diving team is gearing to face off against crosstown rival No. 21 UCLA on Saturday at 1 p.m at McDonalds Swim Stadium.
After frustrating losses at California and Stanford two weeks ago, the Women of Troy (8-2, 3-2) hope that this meet, also their senior meet, turns out to be a victory.
USC coach Dave Salo knows that hanging in the balance is not just one win against UCLA, but a long tradition of beating the Bruins.
“They are our traditional crosstown rivals and at stake is the gauntlet,” Salo said. “We’ve beat them three times in a row now and we are hoping to make it four times in a row.”
The winner of tomorrow’s dual meet is awarded five points that go towards the Crosstown Guantlet, which is a trophy awarded annually to the school that has the most successful athletic year compared to the other. Points awarded are based on the winner of each Trojan-Bruin head-to-head contest, and currently the Trojans are ahead 37.5-20.
Senior and co-captain Presley Bard is confident in USC’s chances of beating its biggest rival.
“There’s gonna be a couple of close races but we should be able to win almost every event,” Bard said. “It’s all in good fun but you always wanna beat your crosstown rivalry school.”
Looking back at the women’s swim team’s previous two dual meets, however, raises some questions about how confident the Women of Troy are feeling about tomorrow’s meet. After they fell to Cal 182-118, and at Stanford, 161.5-136.5, the team had a disappointing last couple of competitions.
Despite the losses, Bard is confident that team can move on and use the lessons learned from the Cal and Stanford meets this weekend.
“We definitely don’t want what happened at Cal and Stanford to happen again. Every day Dave has been reminding us about our losses as motivation, not because he is upset with us,” Bard said. “Sometimes we have to learn how to lose to learn how to win. He is hoping that we take the value of the lesson and take that energy and use it to move forward.”
With those inspirational thoughts in their mind, the Women of Troy are hoping for a successful, well-attended dual meet tomorrow not only for the sake of the Gauntlet, but for their seniors.
“I am hoping that a lot of people come out and support us,” Bard said. “We are not gonna be taking UCLA lightly. It’s gonna be a memorable and exciting day, and it’s always a really special meet because it’s the senior meet too.”