No. 4 Men's Swimming Set For NCAA Championships

March 19, 2001

LOS ANGELES - The No. 4 USC men's swimming and diving team (3-3 overall, 1-3 in the Pacific-10 Conference, second at the 2001 Pac-10 Championships) will compete in the 2001 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships on Thursday through Saturday (March 22-24) at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium on the Texas A&M campus in College Station, Texas. Prelims begin at noon and finals start at 7 p.m. each day (CST).


USC Coach Mark Schubert, in his ninth year at Troy and is coming off a stint as head coach of the U.S. men's swim team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. It was his sixth consecutive USA Olympic coaching position. Schubert, in his ninth season directing the men's team, has gone 57-15 in dual-meet competition.


Possibly America's greatest distance freestyler and one of its best in the individual medley, 2000-2001 sophomore Erik Vendt came off an eye-popping summer of 2000 and is looking to repeat that success at this year's 2001 NCAA Championships. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Vendt became the first Trojan ever to win both the 1650 free and the 400 IM in the same meet. He won the 400 IM in a Pac-10 meet record 3:43.74 and took the 1650 free in 14:56.80. He was also second in the 500 free in 4:18.27. All of the above times are NCAA automatic qualifying times. Vendt is the second-fastest Trojan ever in the 400 IM, the third-fastest in the 1650 and the sixth-fastest in the 500 free. Vendt, who won a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 400 IM, became the first American to go under 15 minutes in the 1500m freestyle last year. He's also the defending NCAA champion in the mile and a three-time returning All-American who was the only Trojan to final in three individual events at the 2000 NCAA Championships.


Tamas Kerekjarto, a native of Hungary, earned All-American honors as a relay member last year but is looking to do so as an individual this season as a 2000-2001 junior. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Kerekjarto was second in the 200 IM (1:46.12), third in the 400 IM (3:45.81) and sixth in the 200 fly (1:45.95). Both IM times are NCAA automatics while the 200 fly time is an NCAA consideration time. Kerekjarto has also posted B cuts in the 100 free (44.86) and the 200 free (1:37.46). He is USC's third-fastest ever in the 200 and 400 IM and the eighth fastest in the 200 fly (1:45.85).


One of the most talented young freestylers in the nation who already has two Olympic medals to his credit, 2000-2001 freshman Klete Keller bolsters an already strong middle-to-distance freestyle unit for the Trojans. Keller flexed his muscle at the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, winning both the 200 free (1:34.99) and the 500 free (4:16.65) and anchoring USC's title-winning and Pac-10 meet record-setting 800 free relay (6:24.77). He also was second in the 1650 free (15:01.39). The above individual times are all NCAA automatics. Keller is the Trojans' second-fastest ever in the 200 free, fifth fastest in the 500 free and sixth fastest in the 1650 free. Keller won a bronze medal in the 400m free at the 2000 Olympics and a silver in the 800m free relay.


Jeff Lee, entered his 2000-2001 sophomore year as one of USC's top middle-distance freestylers but finished as its best butterflyer of all-time and one of its best backstrokers. Lee was an All-American as a freestyler last year but wasn't even among the Trojans' Top 10 all-time in either fly event. But by season's end, he owned both fly records and was the second-fastest USC backstroker ever in the 100 back. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Lee set a USC record in the 200 fly in prelims and in the finals. He first set the mark of 1:44.44, then bettered it in finals, taking third in 1:44.37. Lee took fifth in the 200 free (1:36.60) and swam on all five of USCs relays, including the title-winning and Pac-10 meet-record setting 800 free relay. Lee posted his fly record of 47.36 in a post-Pac-10 meet. He also posted an NCAA automatic time in the 100 back while leading off the 400 medley relay in 47.64. The only Trojan ever to go faster is 2000 Olympic backstroke gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg (46.55). In addition to his automatic times in the 100 and 200 fly and 100 back, Lee has consideration times in the 100 free (44.27) and the 200 free (1:36.40).


The fastest breaststroker in USC history, 2000-2001 senior Ryosuke Imai, a native of Japan, is a career four-time All-American who is an invaluable part of the Trojan medley relays. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Imai successfully defended his title in the 200 breast and almost did the same in the 100. Imai won the 200 in 1:57.68 and was second in the 100 (54.34). He also competed in the 200 IM and swam on USC's third-place 400 medley and fourth-place 200 medley relays. Imai's best times this year in the 100 (54.31) and 200 (1:57.68) are both NCAA automatic times. He owns all six of USC's breaststroke records.


One of USC's top sprinters ever, senior co-captain and four-time career All-American Gabe Woodward will look to be major factor in both individual events and relays at the NCAA Championships. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Woodward was fifth in the 100 free (44.01), sixth in the 50 free (19.98) and 11th in the 100 fly (49.09). He also anchored USC's third-place 400 free and medley relays as well as the fourth-place 200 medley relay and he led off the fourth-place 200 free relay. His top time of 19.84 in the 50 free is an NCAA consideration time and USC's best of the year and his 100 free time of 43.99 is also a consideration cut and is the Trojans' second-fastest of the year. Woodward is USC's third-fastest ever in the 50 free and sixth fastest in the 100 free.


A three-time career-All-American, 2000-2001 junior Mark Warkentin is one of the top mid-to-distance freestylers in the nation who will look to form a formidable one-two punch in the freestyle and IM with sophomore Erik Vendt. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Warkentin posted a pair of fourths in the 500 free (4:21.10) and the 400 IM (3:46.46) and a sixth in the 1650 free (15:18.12). His 400 IM time, an NCAA automatic qualifier, made him the fourth fastest Trojan ever in the event. His above times in the 500 and 1650 frees were both NCAA consideration marks.


Nick Kaschik, a 2000-2001 junior, is a versatile swimmer who looks to build on his NCAA point-scoring debut as a sophomore last year. Kaschik had a great 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, finalling three times. He was sixth in both the 200 IM (1:47.90) and the 400 IM (3:49.42) and was eighth in the 200 back (1:47.45). His 400 IM NCAA automatic qualifying time was a lifetime best and made him the seventh fastest Trojan ever in the event. He also has NCAA consideration times in the 200 IM (1:47.57) and the 200 back (1:45.28).


A fantastic breaststroker and the former USC record holder in the 100y breast, 2000-2001 senior Slawek Richter will challenge for All-American honors in both breast events. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Richter was fourth in the 100 breast (55.00), fifth in the 200 breast (2:00.01) and 11th in the 200 IM (1:49.5).


2000-2001 freshman Trent Staley is a rising talent in the backstroke and distance freestyle for the Trojans. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Staley was fourth in the 200 back (1:45.16), fifth in the 500 free (4:23.31) and 10th in the 100 back (49.36).


A 2000-2001 junior transfer from Louisiana State, Castro joined the Trojans in the spring and immediately bolstered their freestyle corps. At the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, Castro was third in the 200 free (1:36.19), fourth in the 100 free (43.82) and 16th in the 500 free (4:35.05). Castro also swam on USC's title-winning and Pac-10 meet record setting 800 free relay (6:24.77).


USC took sixth at the 2000 NCAA Championships, their sixth Top 7 finish in the last eight years. The USC squad featured nine All-Americans who earned a combined 20 All-American honors. Then-freshman Erik Vendt won USC's first NCAA title since 1998 when he took first in the 1500-meter freestyle and set a U.S. record in the process. Vendt, then-junior Ryosuke Imai and departed Leonardo Costa won three All-American honors apiece to lead the team. Vendt won his in the 1500m free, the 400m free and the 400m IM. Imai won his in the 100m and 200m breast and the 400m medley relay. Then-junior Gabe Woodward (400m medley and free relays), junior Mark Warkentin (400m free and 400m IM) and sophomore Jeff Lee (200m free 400 free relay) each earned a pair of All-American honors as well. Seven of nine All-Americans return.

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