Men’s swim and dive gears up for NCAAs

The Trojans will compete against powerhouses for a title at IU Natatorium.

No. 21 USC will venture to Indiana to go up against the nation’s top swimmers and divers. The Trojans will be accompanied by other Pac-12 powerhouses like No. 1 Arizona State and No. 3 UC Berkeley. USC will have six swimmers and three divers compete in the championships. (Gina Nguyen / Daily Trojan)

No. 21 USC is gearing up for the pinnacle event of its season: the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Hosted at Indiana University, the competition will feature the nation’s top 235 swimmers and top 35 divers, including several Olympians.

The Trojans had six swimmers qualify for the NCAA championships in nine different individual events. They will also field a 400-yard medley relay, which comes in with an entry time of 3:06.61.

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Leading USC into the championships is freshman Krzysztof Chmielewski, who will compete in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly and 1650-yard free. He is joined by his twin brother, freshman Michal Chmielewski, who will be competing in the 200-yard fly.

“They’ve been remarkable in terms of their contribution,” said Head Coach Lea Maurer in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “This will be a really challenging test for them. There are very few freshmen who go in and are feeling as if they are the custodians of the tradition.” 

In addition, senior Ben Dillard will be competing in the 200-yard breaststroke, senior Vaggelis Makrygiannis will compete in the 100-yard backstroke and junior Artem Selin will compete in the 50-yard free. Finally, junior Chris O’Grady will compete in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke.

Maurer hopes the team will be able to post good times and be competitive amid the high pressure of the NCAA championships. 

“It’s louder. It’s tighter. It’s got a lot of traffic, a lot of energy,” Maurer said. “There’s just a lot of distraction, so it’s really good preparation for [the] Olympic trials in June and the Olympics in the summer.” 

This intensity amid elite competition is especially true when looking at powerhouses such as No. 1 Arizona State, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 UC Berkeley. These teams bring talented competitors such as ASU junior Léon Marchand, who is an Olympian and world record holder in the 400-yard individual medley event. 

Despite the highly touted field at the championships, Maurer believes USC has the ability to perform well and learn from the women’s team, which recently placed eighth at its NCAA championships. 

“They can learn from the women,” Maurer said. “Try [to] stay calm and get better with each session … You focus on just being your best self for the next week, and then you can relax a little bit.” 

Furthermore, the Trojans can also build on the progress that they made at the men’s Pac-12 championships, where the swim team placed fifth overall with a combined score of 394.5 points.

In addition, the Trojans will also be fielding three divers. Sophomore diver Robert Gref qualified for platform diving, junior diver Shangfei Wang qualified for 1- and 3-meter diving, and sophomore standout Laurent Gosselin-Paradis qualified for platform diving, 1-meter and 3-meter diving events after his strong performance at NCAA Division I Zone E Qualifiers. Gosselin-Paradis was also recently crowned the platform diving champion at the Pac-12 championships.

USC’s six swimmers and three divers will make their final preparations for the championship in Indianapolis, which will commence Wednesday at Indiana University Natatorium.

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