National championship hunt begins Thursday

No. 5 USC men’s swimming and diving team (4-3, 2-3) prepares to compete in the 2012 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships at the Weyerhauser Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Wash., Thursday thorugh Saturday.

USC hopes its abundance of talent, including sophomore All-Americans Vladimir Morozov and Dimitri Colupaev, junior Alex Lendrum and senior All-American Jeff Daniels, can help them improve from their fourth-place finish during this year’s Pac-12 championships and a seventh-place finish at last year’s NCAA championship.

Last year’s efforts marked the third-straight season of improvement for the Trojans, with eight different swimmers earning All-American honors.

USC has nine NCAA team titles, the last one coming in 1977, along with 112 individual NCAA event titles (94 individual, 18 relay), both ranking fourth nationally.

USC has at least one NCAA title each year for six of the past 11 seasons, but the last one came in 2007, with Larsen Jensen winning the 1650-yard  freestyle.

Prelims start at 12 p.m. each day, with finals beginning at 7 p.m.