USC prepares for final events at NCAAs
USC men’s swim will compete in the NCAA Championships March 23 through 26. Nine Trojan qualifiers will head to the team’s final competition of the season.
The swimmers competing for a national title this week include graduate student Trent Pellini, redshirt senior Nikola Miljenic, senior Victor Johansson, senior Alexei Sancov, sophomore Ben Dillard, sophomore Vaggelis Makrygiannis, freshman Daniel Matheson, freshman Chris O’Grady and freshman Artem Selin. Junior Max Saunders will be joining the team in Atlanta for relays.
“The most important thing is we did the main work first semester,” Sancov said. “We do the main block of training starting from August all the way through the end of December leading to mid-January. Then, it’s all into little details. Closer to NCAAs, we reduce intensity and yardage, but we focus on small things like turns and starts.”
O’Grady currently holds USC’s record for the 200-yard breaststroke with a 1:51.67, a record that Dillard had held earlier in the season (1:52.44). O’Grady, Dillard and Pellini will swim breaststroke this week, with Dillard competing in the 200-yard event, O’Grady competing in the 100 and 200-yard events and Pellini competing in the 100-yard event.
The Pac-12 Championship meets earlier in March brought personal records as well as school records and proved to be a confidence booster for swimmers competing in the NCAA Championships.
In the A-final for the 500-yard freestyle event, both Matheson and Johansson finished with NCAA qualifying times and ended in the top 10 overall. Matheson finished fifth with a 4:14.87, his new personal record, and Johansson finished seventh with a 4:16.97. Matheson went under 15 minutes in the mile swim for the first time in his swimming career, finishing fourth with a 14:51.59, over 20 seconds faster than his previous time. Johansson finished seventh overall for the Trojans with a 15:03.03. Matheson and Johansson will both be competing in the 500-yard freestyle and the 1650-yard freestyle at the NCAA meets.
Sancov said that he looks forward to the NCAA Championships as an opportunity to showcase all of the work the team has put in this year. According to Sancov, the Trojans suffered last season because of uncertainty regarding the coronavirus pandemic, so this season has been a change of pace for the team.
“We’ve been living in so much uncertainty,” Sancov said. “When you have no idea when you’ll be swimming, where you’ll be swimming and if you’ll be swimming at all, mentally, it’s a lot easier when you know that, for sure, tomorrow, you are going to have a practice.”
The Trojans have welcomed this season’s increased stability.
“Compared to last year, this year, [we are] definitely more confident, and that shows in the amount of people that qualified for NCAAs,” Sancov said. “Last year, we had two guys swim individuals, and this year we have [nine]. The difference compared with last year is going to be very, very drastic in a good way.”
The Trojans will travel to Atlanta for the NCAA meets from March 23 to 26.