USC Women Plunge Into NCAA Action

March 10, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- The No. 11 USC women's swimming and diving team (4-4, 2-3), led by NCAA champions Blythe Hartley and Kalyn Keller and an ever-improving group of underclassmen spearheaded by sophomore Rhi Jeffrey and Rebecca Soni, travel to the south this week for the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., Thursday through Saturday (March 16-18). The Women of Troy will swim at the Gabrielsen Natatorium, where prelims will begin at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m. (EST). Results will be available here.

USC has won one NCAA team title (1997) and 36 combined individual AIAW and NCAA titles (including one relay) ... Troy, whose 22 NCAA titles is tied for seventh most in the country, has also posted 12 consecutive NCAA top 10 finishes ... Senior Blythe Hartley is a three-time NCAA champion, having won the 1-meter springboard and platform as a freshman in 2002 and the 3-meter as a redshirt junior in 2005. She is the only NCAA woman ever to win NCAA titles in each event. At USC, only Kristine Quance (eight) and current assistant swimming coach Lindsay Mintenko (formerly Lindsay Benko, five) have won more titles than Hartley ... Junior Kalyn Keller is USC's other returning NCAA champion, having won the 1500m freestyle in 2004. She is the only Trojan to win the NCAA title in the mile, though she won the 2006 Pac-10 title in the 500y free and could become the fourth USC women to win that event ... Speaking of firsts, freshman Rebecca Soni is looking to become the first Trojan woman to win an NCAA title in the 100y breaststroke. She swept the 100y and 200y breaststrokes at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships and is unbeaten in both races this year. While she has been dominant in the longer distance, she is still among the favorites in the shorter race as well ... Sophomore Rhi Jeffrey is USC's best bet to end an All-American drought in the shorter distances of the freestyle. USC hasn't had an All-American in the 50y or 200y free since 1999 and none in the 100y free since 1996, but Jeffrey has been strong in all three races this year (especially the 100y and 200y free) and was a Pac-10 finalist in each race ... Sophomore Hayley McGregory was a two-time All-American as the backstroker on Texas' medley relays last year. Now at USC, she is once again the top backstroker on medley relays, but will look to earn individual All-American honors as well ... In addition to Soni, freshmen Missy McIntyre and Katy Houston have also been strong in the breaststroke and both could be NCAA finalists ... Two other freshmen making their NCAA debuts are Rachael Waller, who will join Jeffrey in the sprint-to-middle distance freestyle, and Kristen Lahey, who will compete in a variety of events ... Sophomore Emily Goetsch was an individual scorer at the 2005 NCAAs in the 100y fly and is looking to improve in both that and the 200y fly in 2006 ... Junior Kristina Sieper rounds out USC's potent breaststroke corps as she competes in her second consecutive NCAA meet.

WOMEN'S TOP 20 TIMES (From Taper & Shave)
Freshman Rebecca Soni's 2:08.16 is the top 200y breast time in the nation (by almost three seconds), an NCAA automatic qualifying time and a school record. Her time in the 100y breast (59.96) is currently second fastest in the country and is also an NCAA automatic and school record. Her time of 4:15.33 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 400y IM is 13th... Sophomore Rhi Jeffrey's 48.94 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 100y free is eighth fastest, her 1:46.26 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 200y free is 10th and her 22.63 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 50y free is 16th ... ... Junior Kalyn Keller's 4:41.89 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 500y free is third fastest, her 16:15.05 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 1650y free is eighth and her 1:59.07 in the 200y fly is 18th ... Sophomore Hayley McGregory's 1:55.77 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 200y back is fourth and her 53.73 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 100y back is fifth ... Freshman Missy McIntyre's 1:01.38 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 100y breast is ninth fastest ... USC's top time in the 400y medley relay (3:36.29) is the fastest in the country this year.

USC has broken six school records this season. The record-breakers are Rebecca Soni in the 100y (59.96) and 200y breast (2:08.16), Rhi Jeffrey in the 100y free (48.94), Hayley McGregory in the 100y back (53.73) and the 200y medley relay (1:39.97) and the 400y medley relay (3:36.29)

USC finished fourth overall and won six Pac-10 titles, marking the 13th straight season it won at least one conference title and the sixth straight year winning at least three ... Blythe Hartley's wins in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard gave her eight career Pac-10 titles, most in conference history. Her win in the 1-meter was her fourth, making her the only Pac-10 woman ever to win four in the event ... Rebecca Soni swept the 100y and 200y breaststroke titles, the first Trojan to do it since 1994 ... Kalyn Keller won the 500y free for the second time, winning it before in 2004 ... USC's quartet of Hayley McGregory, Soni, Emily Goetsch and Rhi Jeffrey won the 400y medley relay, only Troy's second Pac-10 relay title.

USC opened the 2005-2006 season at the Pacific Invite in Stockton, Calif., where women's winners included Cait Connealy and freshmen Kristin Lahey and Rebecca Soni ... At the 2005 Trojan Diving Invitational (Nov. 11-12), Blythe Hartley won the 1-meter competition to lead the women ... USC opened Pac-10 competition at Arizona and Arizona State on Nov. 18 and 19, falling in Tucson to the Wildcats, but defeating the Sun Devils in Tempe the following day. Soni won three events apiece at ASU. Soni posted USC's first NCAA automatic qualifying time of the season, crushing the field in the 200y breast (2:10.95) ... On Dec. 1-3, USC competed at the Texas Invitational. Soni stole the show, winning both breaststroke events in school record times (100y breast, 1:00.35; 200y breast, 2:08.54) ... On Jan. 7, USC hosted UC Santa Barbara and Texas . The Trojans downed the Gauchos but fell to the Longhorns. Soni swept the breaststroke events and Hartley did the same on the springboard events. Connealy (200y free) and sophomore Emily Goetsch (200y fly) also posted wins ... On Jan. 14, Hartley, junior Kalyn Keller, sophomore Rhi Jeffrey and freshmen Rachael Waller and Missy McIntyre all won two races apiece in a win over Cal State Bakersfield ... The Women of Troy returned to action when it hosted California on Jan. 27 and Stanford on Jan. 28. In the 157-143 loss to the Bears, Soni lowered her school record in the 100y breast to 59.96 (defeating Cal's 100m breast world record holder Jessica Hardy) and also won the 200y breast (2:10.13). Both winning breaststroke times were pool records. Keller won three times against the Bears, posting a season-best in the 200y fly (2:00.29). In Troy's 158-142 setback against Stanford, USC's 400y free relay of Connealy, McIntyre, Waller and Jeffrey posted the school's fastest ever time in McDonald's Swim Stadium, touching in 3:22.58. Soni again swept the breaststroke events while Keller and Jeffrey won the 500y free and 200y free, respectively ... USC ended a two-year drought against UCLA on Feb. 11 by defeating the Bruins, 177-123, for its 11th win in 13 years against its crosstown rival. The win also secured five points in the Lexus Gauntlet competition, the year-long contest between USC and UCLA in all sports. Soni and Jeffrey both won three races while Keller and Hartley won twice each as the Trojans set seven UCLA pool records and set a school record in the 200y medley relay.

USC's four returning All-Americans include Blythe Hartley, Kalyn Keller, Cait Connealy and Emily Goetsch (though Connealy will not be competing at the 2006 NCAAs). Troy also added Hayley McGregory, who was an All-American at Texas as a freshman in 2005 before transferring to USC. Troy is without two 2005 All-Americans who finished their eligibility, Joanna Fargus (a current undergrad coach) and Marisa Kozak.

Freshman Rebecca Soni and former Trojan and current volunteer coach Kaitlin Sandeno have been selected to represent the United States at the 2006 FINA Short Course World Championships (25m), April 5-9, in Shanghai, China. In addition, USC Coach Mark Schubert will serve as an assistant coach on the women's team.

The Trojan swimming and diving teams have featured diverse rosters for years and this season is no different. Blythe Hartley on the women's team is from Canada while Head Diving Coach Hongping Li is Chinese and sophomore Renee Viveros has competed for the Mexican national team. The men's squad includes swimmers from Tunisia (Mellouli), Hungary (Viktor Bodrogi, Mihaly Flaskay and Gergely Meszaros), Italy (Vanni Mangoni), Guatemala (Evan Marcus) and South Korea (Joon Youm).