The USC Women’s Swim team splashed back into action this past weekend for their first meet of the season at the Trojan Swim Invite. Invitees included UC San Diego, CSU Bakersfield and the University of Virginia. In this two-day event, the Women of Troy proved they were well-prepared for the upcoming season with sophomore Isa Odgers, junior Marta Ciesla and senior Catherine Sanchez all taking first-place finishes.
Odgers took second in the 100-yard breaststroke, setting a personal best time of 1:00.76. She continued her reign with a win in the 200-yard breaststroke, posting yet another personal best time of 2:09.46.
“I kind of just wanted to work on getting out fast,” Odgers said after the race. “Getting the heels up fast, things like that.”
Of the six Trojans who competed in the 100-yard breaststroke, four were ranked in the top five heading into the event. Odgers discussed the rewarding feeling of training with talented teammates.
“Getting to swim with them in practice every day and then also getting to swim with them in the meet makes it more comfortable, but it also makes it more fun,” she said. “We have that good dynamic that we’re used to swimming with each other.”
Aside from Odgers, Ciesla also had an impressive performance. She posted a victory in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 48.27, and placed second in the 50-yard freestyle, narrowly falling to Virginia freshman Kate Douglass.
The Trojans continued their dominance throughout the meet with Sanchez winning the 200-yard fly, completing the race in 1:56.90. Senior Tatum Wade finished second in the 200-yard individual medley and posted a 1:58.37 time. Sophomore Latricia Transom also placed second in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:46.83. Junior Maggie Aroesty came in third in the 200-yard breaststroke, while junior Jemma Schlicht also finished third in the 100-yard fly.
Not only were the Trojan women successful in their individual events, but their skills also translated in the relay races. The USC women’s A-team placed first in the 100, 200 and 300-yard freestyle relays.
The Women of Troy were without one of their best swimmers, senior Louise Hansson, due to a slight injury. Head coach Dave Salo spoke highly of Hansson after the meet, but explained how her absence helped strengthen the team.
“She's generally the performance force for the team,” he said. “The relays today...were really strong and they weren't so reliant on their top swimmer. They had to rely on each other so I thought that was really an important lesson.”
Despite the Trojan Swim Invite being the team’s first meet of the season, Salo wanted his team to treat the meet as if it were the end of the season.
“We want to see them go out the way they intend to go out in the championship meet in March,” Salo said after Saturday morning’s events. “Now, that’s hard to do in October, but it gives us, as coaches, a lot more information so that we can direct their training better.”
According to Wade, that training has paid off. Wade credited her performance on Friday to the tough team practices that helped her prepare both physically and mentally for the meet.
“Whenever I go out to do a 200, I know that I've done ten 100s really fast (in practice), so that's boosted my confidence and endurance,” she said following her second-place performance.
Additionally, Coach Salo emphasized the importance of mental readiness throughout the season.
“Thinking is the worst thing to happen as an athlete, you can't be thinking about what you're gonna do,” he said. “That's all got to be taken care of in the early racing and in the training.”
By fixing the minor issues early on, the team looks to start off in late-season form. With Salo’s mindset already focused on the championship six months away, USC looks to make a mark with what has already been a strong start to the season.
The women’s swim team will remain at home for next weekend’s dual meet against Utah.