Men's Swimming At Pac-10 Championships

March 6, 2002

The No. 8 USC men's swimming and diving team competes in the 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Championship Thursday through Saturday (March 7-9) at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif. Prelims begin at 11 a.m. and finals are at 6 p.m. each day.

SO FAR - USC is 4-5 and is ranked No. 8 in the latest College Swim Coaches Association of American Top 25. The Trojans opened the season with a close loss to No. 3 Texas and was then swept by No. 7 Arizona State and No. 8 Arizona on the road in close defeats. USC came back with four consecutive wins over non-conference foes, defeating UC Santa Barbara, Pacific, Cal State Bakersfield and UC Irvine. The Trojans finished the season hosting the Bay Area schools, but fell to both Cal and Stanford. In the meet against the Cardinal, 10 pool records were broken, two by Erik Vendt and one by Klete Keller.

HEADLINERS - Among USC's top returning swimmers are sophomore Klete Keller, a two-time NCAA title winner, junior Erik Vendt, an NCAA title winner as a freshman who had three Top 3 finishes at last year's NCAAs and junior Jeff Lee, a four-time All-American last year who is Troy's fastest butterflyer ever.

PAC-10 NOTES - A USC swimmer has won four of the past five Pac-10 titles in the 200y free. Bela Szabados won the event from 1997-99 while Klete Keller won it last year. Keller will also look to become the first Trojan to win the 500y free in back-to-back years since Roy Saari did it three straight times between 1964-66 ... Erik Vendt is looking to pull off another first in 40-some years when he tries to become the first Trojan to defend the Pac-10 title in the 1650y free since Murray Rose won the mile in back-to-back years in 1961-62. Vendt is also the defending Pac-10 titleholder in the 400y IM and looks to be the first Trojan to win it twice in a row since Dave Wharton won it three consecutive year from 1988-90 ... USC hasn't won a title in the 100y fly since Joe Bottom did it in 1977, but junior Jeff Lee currently has the fourth-fastest time in the Pac-10 this year in the event and could challenge for the title ... Senior Tamas Kerekjarto has made five finals appearances in his Pac-10 career and has posted five top three finishes, but is still searching for his first conference title. This could be his year, possibly in the 200y fly, where he has the second-fastest time in the nation this year entering the meet (1:45.42) ... USC's best chance to win a relay title is in the 800y free relay, an event the Trojans have won three of the last five years. Heading into this week, USC has the fastest 800y free relay in the Pac-10 (6:25.02).

2001 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS - USC's men's squad remained among the top in the nation in 2001. The men's program took fourth place at last year's NCAAs (its highest finish ever under Mark Schubert). The team featured nine swimmers who earned a combined 23 All-American honors, highlighted by Klete Keller's NCAA titles in the 200y and 500y freestyles. Erik Vendt also posted three top 3 finishes.

2001 PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS - The USC men's team finished second at the 2001 Pacific-10 Conference Championships. Klete Keller won titles in both the 200y and 500y free while Erik Vendt took firsts in the 400y IM and 1650y free. Ryosuke Imai won the 100y breast and the 800y free relay team of Rodrigo Castro, Jeff Lee, Tamas Kerekjarto and Keller set a Pac-10 Meet record in its win.

MARK SCHUBERT - USC Coach Mark Schubert is in his 10th year at Troy. A year ago, he finished 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. Since he has been at USC, the men's and women's swimming programs are a combined 114-28 (.803 winning percentage). In his 32 years of coaching, Schubert has placed 28 swimmers on U.S. Olympic teams, these athletes have won 18 gold and eight silver medals, plus five world championship titles.

HONGPING LI - An NCAA champion and two-time Olympian, Hongping Li is in his third season coaching USC's men's and women's divers. Li, the winner of the 1998 and 1999 United States Olympic Committee's 'Diving Developmental Coach of the Year,' award, came to USC after serving as the head coach of the Mission Viejo (Calif.) Nadadores Diving Team since 1993. Li has had immediate success in his first two years at USC. Most recently, he guided Kellie Brennan to a pair of All-American honors (and her third consecutive Pac-10 1-meter title) and Nicci Fusaro to her first All-American honor last year at the 2001 NCAAs. Both also reached the top three at the 2001 U.S. Indoor Championships.

NCAA QUALIFIERS - Erik Vendt, Klete Keller and Tamas Kerekjarto are the three Trojan swimmers to have already posted NCAA automatic qualifying times this year. A handful of others have also posted B cuts. Below is a list of each swimmer and their NCAA A and B cuts.

Erik Vendt: 1650 Free (14:52.27 AUTOMATIC, top time in the nation this year), 500 Free (4:19.83), 400 IM (3:48.45), 200 Breast (1:59.05), 200 Back (1:46.39).

Tamas Kerekjarto: 200 IM (1:45.74 AUTOMATIC), 200 Free (1:38.52), 400 IM (3:46.04 AUTOMATIC), 100 Fly (48.52), 200y Fly (1:45.42).

Rodrigo Castro: 100 Free (44.57), 200 Free (1:37.05), 500 Free (4:24.18).

Jeff Lee: 200 Free (1:37.62), 100 Fly (47.43), 200 Fly (1:46.03).

Klete Keller: 200 Free (1:36.10 AUTOMATIC), 500 Free (4:19.80).

Trent Staley: 200 Back (1:46.65), 200 Free (1:39.26), 500 Free (4:26.87).

Joel Everman: 500 Free (4:26.34), 1650 Free (15:15.83).

Mark Warkentin: 500 Free (4:26.50).

John Abercrombie: 200 Fly (1:47.73).

800 Free Relay: Lee, Castro, Kerekjarto, Keller (6:25.02, AUTOMATIC)

SPRINT FREE - Leading up to the Pac-10s, USC's results are still modest in the sprint free. Senior sprinter Rodigro Castro has the only NCAA qualifying time in either the 50y or the 100y free with a 44.57 in the 100. Junior Jeff Lee has USC's top 50 time (20.54) and Castro has the second fastest (20.64).

MID-TO-DISTANCE FREE - USC is traditionally strong in this area and 2002 is no different, though the Trojans have produced only two automatic qualifying times thus far, belonging to Erik Vendt in the 1650y free (14:52.27, the top time in the nation this year) and Klete Keller in the 200y free (1:36.10, a USC pool record). Rodrigo Castro (1:37.05) and Jeff Lee (1:37.62) own USC's top two times in the 200y free (both B cuts). Klete Keller (4:19.80) and Erik Vendt (4:19.83, USC pool record) have Troy's best times in the 500y free (B cuts) while Joel Everman's time of 15:15.83 is the second-best behind Vendt in the 1650.

INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY - Erik Vendt and Tamas Kerekjarto make up one of the best medley tandems in the country. Kerekjarto's time in the 200y IM (1:45.74) is an NCAA automatic and the second-fastest in the country this year and Vendt has the second best time in the event (1:49.57). Vendt is stronger in the 400y IM, but Kerekjarto currently has the top time in the event on the team (3:46.04, an A cut). Vendt is right behind with a 3:48.45. Senior Mark Warkentin will also be a huge factor in this event before the year is through.

BUTTERFLY - A jack-of-all-trades, Tamas Kerekjarto has been just about as effective in the butterfly as he has been in the medley. Jeff Lee, however, owns USC's records in both the 100y and 200y fly and his 47.43 in the 100y fly this year is tops on the team. Kerekjarto's 48.52 is second best. Kerekjarto currently holds the best mark in the 200y fly (1:45.42) with Lee right behind at 1:46.03. Sophomore John Abercrombie has the third best marks in each event.

BREASTSTROKE - Erik Vendt and Tamas Kerekjarto aren't normally breaststroke specialists, but both currently stand atop USC's top times list in these events. Kerekjarto's 56.27 in the 100y breast is tops on the team while Vendt's 1:59.94 is fastest in the 200y breast. Ahmad Al-Kudmani is second-best in the 100 (57.11) while Kerekjarto holds that distinction in the 200 (2:02.55). Freshman Paul Fahey is third best in the 200 and may come on strong as the season progresses.

BACKSTROKE - Sophomore Trent Staley and juniors Jeff Lee and Erik Vendt have been USC's top swimmers in the backstroke. Vendt owns USC's top time in the 200y back (1:46.39) while Staley's time of 1:46.65 is also a B cut. Lee owns USC's top time in the 100y back (49.45) with Staley second (49.80). Oliver White and Tamas Kerekjarto could also figure in this event.

DIVERS - USC's top diver, Ray Vincent, has been out this year with injuries, leaving the Trojans inexperience on the boards. Freshman Justin Curtin, brought in for depth, is USC's top diver at the moment.

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