No. 5 Trojans At No. 9 Cal, No. 4 Stanford

Jan. 30, 2003

USC's No. 5 women's swimming and diving team heads north this week to take on California on Friday (Jan. 31) at 1 p.m. and Stanford on Saturday (Feb. 1) at noon. The Trojans have struggled against their Bay Area foes in recent years and haven't beaten either rival since defeating California in 1998 and haven't swept the schools since the 1996 season.


USC's women's team is ranked No. 5 in the latest College Swim Coaches of America poll (Jan. 16) while California is No. 9 and Stanford is No. 4.


The Bears (6-2, 1-1) are led by junior Natalie Coughlin, one of the world's top swimmers who owns the top NCAA times this year in the 100y free (48.02), 200y free (1:42.65), 500y free (4:37.62), 100y back (50.81), 200y back (1:52.68), 100y fly (50.48) and the 200y fly (1:51.91, an American record) ... The Cardinal (5-2, 1-1) have never lost three dual meets in a season, but still must face No. 13 UCLA, No. 5 USC and No. 9 Cal ... Stanford features seven-time NCAA champion Tara Kirk, currently the holder of the nation's best time this season in both the 100 (59.74) and 200 (2:09.66) breast. Kristen Caverly has three times that rank among the nation's top marks this year in the 400 IM (3rd, 4:10.37), 200 IM (10th, 1:59.58) and 200 breast (10th, 2:14.28).


Sophomore Kaitlin Sandeno's times are littered all over the nation's top times list. She currently has the second-fastest 200y fly time (1:56.00), third in the 400y IM (4:10.06) and third in the 500y free (4:39.94). Senior Michala Kwasny is second in the 200y IM (1:58.00) and sixth in the 400y IM (4:11.84). Junior Jana Krohn is third in the 100y fly (52.91). Freshman Margie Pedder is sixth in the 200y fly (1:57.75) and seventh in the 500y free (4:46.92). Freshman Kammy Miller is ninth in the 200y breast (2:13.85). Senior Asa Sandlund is ninth in the 1000y free (9:52.08) and 12th in the 500y free (4:48.00).


Trojans with NCAA automatic qualifying times include: Kaitlin Sandeno (500y free, 4:39.94; 1650y free, 16:04.08; 400y IM, 4:10.06; 200y fly, 1:56.00; 100y back, 54.78), Michala Kwasny (200y IM, 1:58.00; 400y IM, 4:11.84; 200y fly, 1:58.86), Jana Krohn (100y fly, 52.91), Margie Pedder (200y fly, 1:57.75) and Kammy Miller (200y breast, 2:13.85).


USC's diving contingent, especially on the women's side, is as potent a scoring threat as any in the country. Among the returning divers is sophomore Blythe Hartley, the 2002 NCAA Diver of the Year who won a pair of NCAA titles last year, and junior Nicci Fusaro, a three-time All-American last year.


USC's women's squad returns all but two of its eight All-Americans from last year's NCAA Championships. Sophomore Joanna Fargus (100y and 200y back and 400y and 800y free relay) was USC's only four-time All-American last year. Blythe Hartley and junior Nicci Fusaro each earned All-American honors in each diving event. Senior co-captain Michala Kwasny (200y fly, 400y IM, 400y free relay) and sophomore Kaitlin Sandeno (200y fly, 400y IM, 800y free relay) were both three-time All-Americans while junior Jana Krohn (100y fly) also returns.


USC's women's team earned a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, only a half of a point out of third place, and a second-place finish at the Pac-10s. The men's squad, meanwhile, took fifth at the NCAAs, five points out of fourth place, and finished fourth at the conference meet. In addition to Erik Vendt's and Blythe Hartley's NCAA titles, USC is defending a handful of Pac-10 titles. Vendt is the Pac-10 defending champ in the 500y and 1650y free while the Trojans are the defending champions of the 800y free relay. For the women, Michala Kwasny won the 400y IM, Hartley won the 1-meter while Nicci Fusaro won the 3-meter and platform.


USC Coach Mark Schubert is in his 11th year at Troy. Two years 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 123-37. In his 33 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.


An NCAA champion and two-time Olympian, Hongping Li is in his fourth 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 and tremendous success in his first three years at USC. Most recently, he helped guide then-freshman Blythe Hartley to a pair of NCAA titles in 2002 and recognition as the 2002 NCAA and Pac-10 Diver of the Year. Also last year, then-sophomore Nicci Fusaro joined Hartley as USC's only two divers to earn All-American honors in all three diving specialties in one NCAA meet. In 2001, Li guided Kellie Brennan to a pair of All-American honors (and her third consecutive Pac-10 1-meter title) and Fusaro to her first All-American honor at the 2001 NCAAs. Both also reached the top three at the 2001 U.S. Indoor Championships.


Both the men's and women's team fell in hard-fought meets at Texas. The men lost to the top-ranked Longhorns, 208-143, while the women were edged on the final relay, 177-176. Erik Vendt won five events over the two-day meet (200y and 400y IM, 500y and 1650y free and 200y breast) while freshman Mihaly Flaskay scored an impressive win in the 100y breast and sophomore Ray Vincent won the 3-meter springboard. Sophomore Kaitlin Sandeno won four times (400y IM, 200y back and 500y and 1650y free) while Blythe Hartley won both springboard events.


The men's team swept Arizona (175-66) and Arizona State (139-104) while the women did the same against the Wildcats (142-101) and the Sun Devils (174-125). As has been the case in the early part of the season, senior Erik Vendt and freshman Ous Mellouli led the way for the men in the double-dual meet. Vendt won the 1000y free and the 200y breast while Mellouli won the 200y and 500y free. Senior Michala Kwasny, sophomore Kaitlin Sandeno and freshman Margie Pedder each won two races against Arizona while Kwasny and senior Asa Sandlund won twice each against Arizona State.


The men's and women's teams had little trouble with their non-conference tune-up meets against UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Bakersfield and Pacific. The men's and women's teams breezed by the Gauchos in Santa Barbara and then swept Pacific and Bakersfield in Los Angeles.


USC sophomore Blythe Hartley swept the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform events at the Trojan Diving Invitational Nov. 7-9. Fellow sophomore Ray Vincent also won the 1-meter and the platform.

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