(Photo: Blake Benard/WCSN)
The ASU men and women will face a series of conference opponents this weekend at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. Arizona State will take on USC Friday morning, while on Saturday the women will face UCLA and the men dive in against Air Force.
All races will be close. The level of intensity will be high. However, USC in particular will be a matchup ASU wants to focus on. Last year the USC women put up a strong performance at the NCAA championship swim meet, and the USC men won the Pac-12 Conference championship.
“It’s very exciting, we all know USC were the Pac-12 champs last year,” sophomore Patrick Park said. “It’s a great opportunity to race, and go up against the best.”
The USC Trojans have had years of dominant swimming under head coach David Salo. With Olympic gold medalists Rebecca Soni and Lenny Krayzelburg as alumni, USC brings a rich history with them.
“We are not scared at all,” Park said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase, race and give it all we got.”
“Swimming against them every year is pretty tough,” junior Kat Simonovic said. “They are a really high-end team, and we are definitely going to have to perform well.”
Following their strong performance against UNLV on Oct. 24, the Sun Devils will look to bring excitement and energy into the matchups this week.
“This season, I would definitely say our team is energetic,” Simonovic said. “I think that we are all just really focused and excited to represent our new team.”
“UNLV was definitely and eye-opener,” Park said. “Every performance we had was just a confidence booster going forward.”
Both Park and Simonovic had strong performances against UNLV. Simonovic was a key swimmer in the 200-yard freestyle relay that took first place, and Park won both his events with NCAA B qualifying times.
The swim team returned to practice looking to increase the intensity of their training. The swimmers participated in long-course Olympic style training. This type of workout involves longer distances that will increase endurance.
“Long course meters is a lot more yardage,” Simonovic said. “We have a lot less turns, so it means more swimming.
“Long course training is a developmental process,” Park said. “If I can do well at long course, I can definitely do well at short course.”
Park mentioned a while ago that he doesn’t believe this team is in a “rebuilding year.” Park believes ASU has the swim team to be immediately successful, and this weekend will be a big test against some difficult Pac-12 competition.
“This is a good chance to show what ASU is all about,” Park said. “We’ve been through so much as a program. If we get to put these guys down, it will show a lot of people.”
The Pac-12 is one of the most difficult conferences in collegiate swimming, and ASU’s performance this weekend will show the progress the team has made.