USA College Challenge: USC makes a statement at home pool

LOS ANGELES – Team USA and Pac-12 swimmers rolled into Troy with a lot of star power.

The Pac-12 alone brought seven swimmers--alumni and current students--with Olympic medals: Katie Ledecky, Lia Neal, Ryan Murphy, Josh Prenot, Jacob Pebley, Kathleen Baker and Abbey Weitzeil.

The Olympians did their thing, but the Trojans gave the crowd a lot to cheer about all while helping Team Pac-12 to a 155-141 lead after day one.

Freshman Maggie Aroesty committed to USC as the youngest American girl (15-16 age group) to finish under one minute in the 100 yard breaststroke. Aroesty carried her reputation to the College Challenge, where she won the 200 breaststroke. Her 2:06.88 time broke former Trojan Rebecca Soni's pool record (2:07.86). 

The energy at her home pool might have helped. USC swim coach Dave Salo was fired up at the side of the pool.

"He was so happy even before the meet started," Aroesty said. "And I think that's something that helped the team today with our four individual wins."

Aroesty's teammates followed suit. Swedish Olympian Louise Hansson captured two individual wins, de-throning Neal and Weitzeil in the 100 free and Baker and 15-year-old Regan Smith in the 100 butterfly.

On the men's side, sophomore Patrick Mulcare topped reigning Olympic gold medalist Murphy in the 200 yard backstroke.

"It's a really cool experience to compete as a part of the Pac-12," Aroesty said. "It's never been done before, so to compete with Olympians is something special."

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