Men's Swimming, Diving Set For NCAA Championships

March 25, 2003

USC's No. 8 men's swimming and diving team (5-3, 2-2) will compete at the 2003 NCAA Championships at the University of Texas' Joe Jamail Swim Center from Thursday to Saturday (March 27-29). Prelims start at 11 a.m. each day and finals begin at 7 p.m. CST. Under 11th-year Coach Mark Schubert, the men's team has finished in the Top 7 eight of the last nine years.


Senior co-captain Erik Vendt enters the NCAA Championships tied for eighth at USC with three career NCAA titles. He has a chance to move up to fourth all time if he picks up three more ... Senior co-captains Jeff Lee and Vendt hold a combined five USC records. Lee owns both the 100y and 200y fly while Vendt owns the 1000y free, 1650y free and the 400y IM ... The Trojans won the 800y free relay last year, their first NCAA relay title since 1977, and set an NCAA record in the process. Lee is the only returning member of that relay, but the Trojans expect to challenge for the title again this year.


Erik Vendt and Ous Mellouli will both swim the 500y and 1650y free and the 400y IM; Jeff Lee and Erik Tolmachoff will both swim the 200y and 500y free and the 200y fly; J.D. Abercrombie will swim the 200y IM and the 100y and 200y fly; Trent Staley will swim the 200y and 500y free and the 200y back; Paul Fahey will swim both medleys while Jordie Proffitt will swim the 100y back and the 200y IM; David Ringe and Mike Gausman will both swim the 100y and 200y fly; Mike Stoller will swim the 50y free, Mihaly Flaskay will swim the 100y breast and Ray Vincent will dive in all three specialties.


With wins in the 500y free, 400y IM and 1650y free, senior co-captain Erik Vendt became the first Trojan swimmer since 1977 (Joe Bottom) to win three Pac-10 individual titles in the same year. He has seven Pac-10 titles in his career, three in the 1650y Free ... Among some other Trojans who came on strong at the Pac-10s were junior J.D. Abercrombie, who won the 200y fly for his first career Pac-10 title (after never having reached the conference finals before this year); freshman Mihaly Flaskay, who won the 100y breast title and just missed setting a school record; freshman Ous Mellouli, who took second to Vendt in the mile and the 400y IM and has established himself as one of USC's fastest in those events ever; and junior Trent Staley who finalled three times and is USC's top backstroker


The Pac-10 men's diving competition was held the week before the men's swimming meet in conjunction with the women's championships in Federal Way, Wash. Sophomore diver Ray Vincent won his first career Pac-10 title, taking first in the platform with 503.85 points. He was also second on 3-meter and fourth on 1-meter. Vincent's title was the seventh conference win under fourth-year head diving coach Hongping Li.


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 was selected as the United States head coach for women's swimming at the 2004 Olympic Games on Monday (Feb. 10). It will be his seventh consecutive Olympic coaching stint and his third as a head coach. He was the men's head coach in 2000 and the women's head coach in 1992.


Erik Vendt (as of March 10) owned the fastest times in the nation in the 1650y free (14:35.97) and the 400y IM (3:41.49) and was second in the 500y free (4:17.06). His 200y breast (1:56.87) was ninth. Freshman Ous Mellouli is fourth in the 400y IM (3:46.29), seventh in the 1650y free (14:58.53), 12th in the 500y free (4:19.63) and 16th in the 200y IM (1:47.26). Junior J.D. Abercrombie is ninth in the 200y fly (1:45.04). Senior Jeff Lee is 11th in the 200y fly (1:45.26) and 15th in the 200y free (1:36.28). Senior Erik Tolmachoff is 15th in the 200y fly (1:45.45) while Mike Gausman is 17th (1:45.52). Freshman Mihaly Flaskay is third in the 100y breast (53.36). USC did own the top 800y free relay in the country, but has recently fallen to seventh (6:26.21).


Senior Erik Vendt owns NCAA automatic times in the 500y free (4:17.06), 1650y free (14:35.97), 400y IM (3:41.49) and the 200y breast (1:56.87). Freshman Ous Mellouli owns NCAA autos in the 500y free (4:19.63) and the 400y IM (3:46.29). Freshman Mihaly Flaskay has an NCAA auto in the 100y breast (53.36). Senior Jeff Lee has one in the 200y free (1:36.28). Junior Trent Staley owns NCAA consideration times in the 500y free (4:22.92) and the 200y back (1:44.33). Junior J.D. Abercrombie has consideration times in the 100y fly (47.89) and the 200y fly (1:45.04). USC's 800y free relay mark of 6:26.21 is also an automatic time.


Erik Vendt, winner of the 400y IM and the 1650y free and second in the 500y free at least year's NCAA Championships, and Jeff Lee, second in the 200y fly and fifth in the 100y fly, are USC's only returning All-Americans on the men's team.


USC Coach Mark Schubert is in his 11th year at Troy. He will make his seventh consecutive Olympic coaching appearance in 2004 when he directs the U.S. women's team in Athens, Greece. 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 fell at both California (160-140) and Stanford (144-87). Against the Cardinal, Erik Vendt set a Stanford pool record in the mile (14:46.48) and Ous Mellouli did the same in the 500y free (4:20.32). Against Cal, Vendt won the 200y breast and the 200y IM and Mellouli won the 200y free and 500y free. USC couldn't overcome either team's edge in the sprints on both days.

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