Swimmers, Divers In Action At UC Santa Barbara

Jan. 10, 2003

USC's men's and women's swim and dive teams are back in action after almost five weeks out of the pool as they travel north to face UC Santa Barbara in a non-conference dual meet on Saturday (Jan. 11) at 1 p.m.

Both squads enter the meet 2-1 with wins against the Arizona schools following tough losses to Texas.

Leading the list of stalwarts for the No. 8 men's team this year is Erik Vendt, off to a strong start to his senior year. By the first week of December, he'd already posted NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 500y free (4:17.06), 1650y free (14:42.97), 400y IM (3:41.49) and the 200y breast (1:56.87).

Among the other veterans who are off to solid starts is senior Jeff Lee, who has posted three NCAA consideration marks already (500y free, 100y fly, 200y fly). Trent Staley has done so in the 200y back and the 500y free. Others to already post NCAA consideration times are J.D. Abercrombie (100y fly, 200y IM), Paul Fahey (400y IM) and Mike Gausman (200y fly).

Ous Mellouli, a freshman from Tunisia, has made an immediate an impact as one of the top first-year swimmers in the country. With Klete Keller gone, Mellouli has emerged early as a viable replacement in mid-range and long-distance events. He has already posted NCAA automatic times in the 500y free (4:19.63) and 400y IM (3:46.30) and has a consideration time in the 200y free (1:36.98), 200y IM (1:47.26) and the 1650y free (15:03.21). Fellow freshman Mihaly Flaskay, from Hungary, has come on as one of Troy's top breaststrokers and has already posted a consideration time in the 100y breast.

On the No. 6 women's side, the highlights were dominated by Kaitlin Sandeno. After a frustrating year as a freshman that was spent slowly recovering from injuries, she has neared full strength and is posting times as good as any in the nation.

She broke a pair of school records in December with her 500y free time of 4:39.94 and her 16:04.08 in the 1650y free. The former broke Lindsay Benko's 1999 time of 4:40.22 while the latter broke Michelle Ford's 1984 time of 16:12.00. Both records were, of course, NCAA automatic times, as were her 4:10.06 in the 400y IM, 54.78 in the 100y back and 1:56.00 in the 200y fly.

Senior co-captain Michala Kwasny is also off to a fast start and has posted NCAA automatic times in the 400y IM (4:11.84), 200y IM (1:58.00) and the 200y fly (1:58.86). Sophomore diver Blythe Hartley maintained her high level of excellence in the early season, sweeping almost each event she entered.

Other swimmers who have posted autos include senior co-captain Asa Sandlund (1650y free, 16:21.75), junior Jana Krohn (100y fly, 52.91), freshman Margie Pedder (200y fly, 1:57.75) and freshman Kammy Miller (200y breast, 2:13.85).

The women's team has perhaps its best depth in years, evidenced by seven swimmers who have already turned in NCAA consideration times in the 500y free. In fact, the only event where the Trojans haven't posted at least one NCAA consideration time is in 50y free.

Additionally, a strong group of underclassmen has emerged to compliment veterans like Kwasny, Sandeno and Sandlund. Along with Miller and Pedder's automatic times, freshmen Joy Galloway and Stacy Vazhenin and sophomore Marisa Kozak have all posted consideration times. Upperclassmen Melissa Deary and Heather Valerio have also done the same.

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