The USC men’s swimming and diving team showed a promising start to its regular season at the three-session Trojan Swimming Invitational last Friday and Saturday at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
USC was joined by UC San Diego, CSU Bakersfield and Virginia as well as swimmers from Trojan Swim Club and Team Elite San Diego. USC currently holds two prominent teams, the first and foremost being the USC Swim team and the Trojan Swim Club.
“It’s real early in the season, we’ve got a lot of young freshmen kids, especially on the guy’s side, so we’re trying to gauge where we were last year at this time, with everybody that swam last year,” head coach Dave Salo said. “We’re a little bit ahead of last year, which is a good sign.”
At 2 p.m. last Friday, the Trojans trailblazed with Trojan Swim Club-CA freshman Cristian Quintero with a time of 4:18.23 coming out on top overall in the men’s 500-yard Freestyle. Coming in third overall in Heat 4 was sophomore Victor Johansson, the 2019 Pac-12 champion in the 500-yard free and an NCAA scorer in the 1650-yard free. The champion was unable to keep his title and came second to Jack Walker of UVA with a time of 4:19.50.
Salo added that newer swimmers needed time to adjust to college-level competition. Most of these swimmers are used to being the fastest from their high school programs. But now that they’re competing against other talented athletes, they have to push themselves in competition.
“The nice thing about this meet is we’re able to invite the swim club guys, who are a lot of seasoned veterans; Quintero is an alum and won NCAA championships a few years back,” Salo said. “Victor [M Johansson] did a nice job in terms of his 500 freestyle. We have a long way to go, but for right now we’ll take it.”
Despite having newcomers, the Trojans continued with their impressive performances through the weekend meet. Andrew Dole came in third in the first heat of the men’s 50-yard freestyle. For a memorable beginning to the end of his seasons with the Trojans, in Heat 3, senior Thomas Reed came first in the men’s 50-yard freestyle.
In the men’s 50-yard freestyle, the Trojans recorded positions in the top ten. Trojan Swim Club Jesse Novak landed in the top five with a time of 20.09. Following that by 0.01 of a second, fellow club member Jerome Heidrich came in with a time of 20.10. Yet another swimmer from the club, Calvyn Justus, had a time of 20.14. Lastly, for USC’s men’s team, newcomer Nikola Miljenic ended with a time of 20.22.
Closing the Invite on a positive note, USC team swimmers Novak, Daniel Skaaning, Manuel Leuthard and Dole came first and third overall in the men’s 100-yard free relays.
The Men of Troy ended on a learning note, and Salo said it best. “This for us is a good point where we finish this meet off, sit down and say where are we, how are we gonna get better the next time, and what are you going to do in your training in terms of your habits that are gonna make that difference,” Salo said.
As for the rest of the season, Salo explained that this meet is a starter to see where the team is at. This meet allows them to get a gauge of their times so they can plan on where they want to be by the spring season.