USC's Reed Malone captures 500-yard freestyle at 2016 Pac-12 Swimming (M) Championships
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - It was three years in the making for USC’s Reed Malone, but the junior finally came away with the win in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:11.80, the second-best time in the country for the 2015-16 season.
After finishing second in the event in the last two Pac-12 Championships to his teammate Cristian Quintero, Thursday night’s win was a bit of a relief for Malone.
“To finally get that monkey off my back…it feels pretty good.”
His teammates celebrated with him, yelling, “Cristian, who?” when he won.
“It’s kind of a funny joke. Cristian and I are really close. We’re still best friends to this day…he’s such a great guy in and out of the pool, and really a role model for me, so for him to kind of show me the ropes, and for me to be able to do it on my own, I was actually pretty happy for myself.”
Malone is coming off one of his best seasons in the pool, earning two All-American honors and helping the Trojans sweep Stanford and Cal for the first time since 1997.
Malone didn’t start the race like he would have wanted, but the 500 yards gave him enough time to recover.
“I wanted to be out nice and smooth, kinda have that easy speed. I ended up being out a little too slow, but it was ok. I actually negative-split the race, which is the first time I’ve ever done that.”
After Day Two of the 2016 Pac-12 Swimming (M) Championships, the Trojans sit behind Stanford in second place. Despite a rough second day, Malone feels good about USC’s chances.
“I think we’re only gonna get better from here. We have great breaststrokes, great backstrokes, our [butterfly] is great…I think as we move on through the meet, we’re gonna get faster and swim better, and I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
The Trojans welcome the chance to defend their first Pac-12 title since 1979.
“It’s kind of a new experience because last year we came in and no one really thought we could win, kind of including us, and as the meet progressed it kind of grew into, ‘Maybe we can win this.’
This year is kind of a different approach. We know the target is on our back…and we’re trying to embrace it.”
Do they gather any inspiration from the women’s team, who won the 2016 Pac-12 Swimming (W) and Diving (M/W) last week?
“Oh, absolutely,” he laughs. ”Once the girls won, we had to win. It’s a bit of a rivalry. We were so happy for them…it’s been a good 12 months for USC, and we’re hoping to continue that excellence.”