The USC women’s swim and dive team is set to compete up north in Federal Way, Wash. for the 2014 Pac-12 Championships. The Women of Troy are ranked No. 2 in the nation and are sending a host of top-notch talent to the Pacific Northwest, including senior All-Americans Kasey Carlson, Meghan Hawthorne and Stina Gardell. The tournament, which will take place in the Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center, kicks off today and runs through March 1.
The Pac-12 Championship is notorious for its stiff competition, and this year’s tournament is no different. In addition to No. 2 USC, the tournament also features national title contenders in No. 1 Stanford, No. 5 California, No. 11 Arizona and No. 16 UCLA in addition to other strong Pac-12 squads.
The Trojans, who have yet to win a single team conference title, lost last year’s Pac-12 team championship in heartbreaking fashion.
The Cardinal edged out the Women of Troy by 21 points, 1439.5 to 1418.5, which was the slimmest margin of victory in the tournament’s history.
As one of the best teams in the nation, the Women of Troy are anchored by versatile top-tier talent. Carlson owns the fastest time in the country for the 100-yard freestyle at 47.22 seconds. Carlson is also the eighth-best swimmer in the 50-yard freestyle event with a time of 21.90 seconds, and fourth in the nation in the 100-yard breastroke, clocking in at 58.61 seconds. Sophomore Kendyl Stewart brings more firepower to the sprint events, including a fourth-ranked time in the 100-yard butterfly at 51.39 seconds.
USC’s swimmers are also competitive in intermediate distance events. Stewart is ranked 11th in the nation in the 200-yard backstroke (1:53.10 seconds), and sophomore Jasmine Tosky is third in the nation in the 200-yard butterfly (1:53.84 seconds). The Women of Troy are also skilled in relay events, with all of their freestyle relay and 200-yard medley relay teams being ranked in the top eight teams in the nation.
The USC women’s dive team is led by former Duke University signee and USC transfer junior Haley Ishimatsu. Ishimatsu, who was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in the 10-meter platform event, will look to defend her Pac-12 championship this week in Federal Way. The junior brought home the silver medal in the 10-meter synchronized platform diving event in the 2009 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Rome. In her collegiate career, Ishimatsu made a huge splash in the 2013 NCAA Championships by setting the point record in the platform event with a total score of 396.75.
The Women of Troy have been dominant in Pac-12 play this season, going undefeated in team events with the exception of one loss to Stanford in a “battle of the unbeatens” at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. USC will look to avenge its one loss this week and take home the Pac-12 Championship. The event will be televised on tape delay by the Pac-12 Networks on March 3 at 9 p.m. PST.