USC set to begin NCAAs

Last year, the USC men’s swim team took home 11th place at the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships, while the women’s team placed seventh in their NCAA competition.

Steep challenge · The Trojans have their eyes set on winning an NCAA title but must first get past California and 2008 Olympian Nathan Adrian. - Daily Trojan file photo

A year later, the women’s team showed the country it was a force to be reckoned with, taking home third place at the 2011 NCAA women’s swimming and diving national championships held last weekend at Texas’ Jamail Swim Center in Austin.

With that victory still fresh in its memory, the men’s team looks to achieve similar success hoping to improve from its 11th-place performance last time it participated in NCAAs.

“Our women’s team accomplished its goal and we have the same program, the same training schedule and we have kind of the same taper,” said freshman Vladimir Morozov. “We are looking forward to performing as well as the women did, or even better.”

The 2011 NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships will be held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

Teams such as No. 1 California, No. 2 Stanford, No. 6 Arizona and No. 7 USC are participating.

No. 4 Texas enters the competition as the defending NCAA champion.

Arizona, according to Morozov, is the team’s biggest rival, with both teams eager to beat the other.

With the women’s NCAA competition complete, the Trojans look to build upon the success of their female counterparts.

Although the men and women swimmers compete at different times, USC coach Dave Salo stressed that the team thinks of itself as one entity, not two.

“We acknowledge that we are one team, and that the results of one are the results of the other,” Salo said. “I think [the men’s] confidence is always buoyed by how the swimmers before them did. They looked at the women’s team and saw that they did a good job, so now it’s their turn.”

Although dual meets made up most of the team’s competition this season, the goal for USC’s team has always been to succeed at NCAAs.

With swimmers like Morozov, who has broken several personal and school records this season, and All-Americans sophomore Clement Lefert and junior Patrick White, the team, as a result, hopes to find itself on the podium at NCAAs.

“I always set high goals for myself,” Morozov said. “I’d like to win the 50- or 100-freestyle and my biggest competition is Nathan Adrian, the Olympian from Cal. There are some other guys who are close to my best time, but I’m a freshman so I’m just excited to be there.”

Though Adrian, who holds American records in 50- and 100-yard freestyle and earned a gold medal as a member of the U.S. 4×100 relay team during the 2008 Olympics, possess a threat to USC’s title hopes, the Trojans do not appear fazed by the stiff competition presented by the Golden Bears, among others.

As with the women, Salo’s bunch anticipates a top-10 finish.

“For men’s, our goal is to make top-10,” Salo said. “If we have a perfect meet and make no mistakes, we could make top five. They’re excited to go. They’ve looked at the women’s meet results and said, yeah, let’s go.”