USC kicks off 2011-2012 season

The USC men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams begin their seasons this weekend with high expectations.

The men finished last season tied for seventh in the country, while the women finished in fifth place. The Trojans are led by senior Jack Ostler and junior Alex Lendrum, both of whom were among the Pac-10’s best in their events last season. The Women of Troy, meanwhile, are led by captain seniors Katinka Hosszu, Amanda Smith and Victoria Ishimatsu, all of whom were All-Americans last season. Hosszu, who was the NCAA Swimmer of the Year last season, took home three individual titles at last season’s NCAA championships.

Sophomore Vladimir Morozov set the USC record in the 50-meter freestyle last season as a freshman and looks to be one of the top 100-meter backstroke swimmers in the Pac-12. Also returning to the team is senior Jeff Daniels, who along with Morozov helped obtain the fastest 200-meter freestyle relay in school history. The men won three titles at the Pac-10 championships last season. In total, six school records were set last season, and this season could provide more.

On the women’s side, 18 upperclassmen return to one of the nation’s elite squads. Led by Hosszu, Smith, and Ishimatsu, the Women of Troy broke 12 school records in 2010. Hosszu was an All American in five different events and won several medals in the European Short Course Championships. Smith, a transfer from the University of Indiana, looks to set personal bests in the 200-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle, among other events.

The men open against a CSU Bakersfield team that has quite a few stars of their own. Led by Peter Bardessono, the squad boasts seven swimmers who rank in the top 25 in their respective events. The Trojans, meanwhile, return 15 upperclassman to a squad that finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the country.

The women open up against Washington State, a team that went 6-2 last season outside of major tournaments but finished near the bottom at the Pac-10 championships. They return Anne Kenney and Kelsey Bruggman, both of whom had strong showings at the conference tournament.

The men’s swimming and diving team has not won a national title since 1977, when it won four in a row. They have won nine championships overall. The women’s team has one title to its credit that it won in 1997.