The USC swim and dive athletes always have the goal of restoring pride to the storied tradition program, and the Trojans accomplished just that this past weekend.
Junior Vladimir Morozov took home two individual titles and led the Trojans to their first 400-yard freestyle relay title and an overall fourth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA men’s swim and dive championships in Indianapolis.
After claiming the 50-yard freestyle crown on day one of the competition, Morozov snapped the NCAA record in the 100-yard freestyle in 40.76 seconds on the final day, becoming the first Trojan to win the race since 1974.
“That 100 free is by far the race that I’m most proud of,” Morozov said. “I took it out there about half a second faster than usual at the 50 and did my best to hold on to break the record.”
Morozov also teamed with juniors Dimitri Colupaev and Jack Wagner and sophomore Cristian Quintero to clinch the 400-yard freestyle relay in a school-record 2:48.33.
“It felt great to be the last ones to stand on the highest step of the podium as the meet came to an end,” Morozov said.
It was the first time USC won the race since 1977 and USC’s first relay title since 2002. With the win, USC passed Florida, Texas and Stanford in the standings, jumping from seventh to fourth.
“What a great evening to be a Trojan,” USC head coach Dave Salo said in a statement. “Watching the score through the night, our only ‘hope’ was to take care of business in the 400 free relay. We did our job with the win and another school record and the rest of the pieces fell into place.”
In a competition in which USC had only 11 racers, the Trojans broke school records 15 times — including in all five relays — and ended with 289 points overall to take their highest finish since placing fourth in 2001.
“I’m really proud of these guys and my staff with all the hard work and determination over the past seven years to get here,” Salo said.
After a disqualification last year, USC’s 800-yard freestyle relay team, composed of senior Alex Lendrum, sophomore Chad Bobrosky, Colupaev and Quintero, placed third in a USC-record 6:15.94 time.
“Dimitri and Cristian picked up where Morozov has been leading the team. Colupaev’s lead off and Quintero’s anchor legs in the 800 free were critical to our performance tonight,” Salo said. “Coming off outstanding individual performances in the 200, their unselfish performance in the relay was inspiring.”
Morozov highlighted the first day of the competition with USC’s first title in the 50-yard freestyle since 1977. His 18.63 mark was the fourth-fastest time ever and was USC’s first men’s NCAA title since 2007.
The Trojans placed second in the 200-yard freestyle relay with the efforts of freshman Maclin Davis, Colupaev, Morozov and Wagner in a school-record 1:16.22 time.
On the same day, Davis, Lujan Rivera, Morozov and Spinazzola set another USC record after placing fourth in the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:04.98. Spinazzola’s lead-off 100-yard split in 46.36 also broke a school record.
Coming into the momentous weekend, Salo said his goal was for the program to become a perennial top-five finisher at the NCAA championship meet. After last season’s seventh-place finish, the seventh-year head coach appears to have the team well on track.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” Salo said. “My players and my staff, with all the hard work and determination over the past seven years to get here, it’s just great to see this success.”