College Swimming Previews: Roster departures leave challenge for #5 USC women

Key Additions: Lucy Worrall (transfer- Miami – fly), Hannah Weiss (WA- backstroke), Kindle van Linge (CA – fly/back), Lindsay Lauder (Canada – fly), Alexa Cacao (CA – diving)

Key Losses: Kasey Carlson (45 NCAA points, 4 NCAA relays), Stina Gardell (29 NCAA points, 1 NCAA relay), Megan Hawthorne (3 NCAA points), Lynette Lim (middle distance freestyle)

2013-2014 Lookback

Key Pac-12 Conference Results:

  • 3rd place (three conference titles)
  • Seven Conference titles:
    • Kasey Carlson in the 50-yard free
    • Haley Ishimatsu in 3-meter and platform dives

Key NCAA Results:

  • 5th place (five straight years in the top seven, accomplished only by three teams)
  • Results in top 16:
    • Haley Ishimatsu – 1st platform dive, 6th 1-meter dive, 13th 3-meter dive
    • Kasey Carlson – 2nd 50-yard free, 4th 100-yard breast, 6th 100-yard free
    • Stina Gardell – 5th 200-yard individual medley, 7th 400-yard individual medley.
    • Jasmine Tosky – 9th 200-yard individual medley, 16th 200-yard fly
    • Chelsea Chenault – 10th 200-yard free
    • Meghan Hawthorne – 14th 200-yard individual medley
    • Andrea Kropp – 14th 200-yard breast
    • Chenault, Gardell, Kasia Wilk, and Tosky – 4th 800-yard free relay
    • Wilk, Carlson, Chenault, and Tosky – 6th 400-yard free relay
    • Joanna Stenkvist, Carlson, Tosky and Wilk – 7th 400-yard medley relay
    • Carlson, Wilk, Stenkvist and Evan Swenson – 8th 200-yard free relay
    • Stenkvist, Carlson, Kendyl Stewart and Swenson – 9th 200-yard individual medley relay

2014 Honors and Cuts:

  • 9 All-Americans (four First-Team Scholars and five Honorable Mentions)
  • 12 NCAA ‘A’ cuts (seven individual and all five relays)
  • 46 NCAA ‘B’ cuts (includes the seven ‘A’ cuts)

Lady Trojans Face Test to Best Last Year’s Results

Three freshmen women and a transferred fly specialist from the University of Miami fill the roster spots left by five graduating seniors who put a lot of wood on the pile for head coach Dave Salo, including all five of the top-seven swim finishes at last season’s NCAA Championships.

The challenge for The Women of Troy is to replace those valuable points. The good news is that the talent and experience to take that step is there, considering 15 of the 20 relay spots on the five Cardinal and Gold’s NCAA relays, which placed no worse than ninth, were all filled by underclassmen.

Pieces are in Place for Individual Performances

Graduating seniors Kasey Carlson, Meghan Hawthorne and Stina Gardell factored into USC’s top five performances for 11 of 12 individual events, many of them multiple times. Couple this with Lynette Lim’s departure and her season-best 1650-yard free, and it’s a sweep of all events.

Their impact is underscored by the fact that all five of USC’s top eight performances in the pool at the NCAA Championships last season were achieved by departing seniors. Carlson was second in the 50-yard free, fourth in the 100-yard breast and sixth in the 100-yard free, while Gardell placed fifth in the 200-yard individual medley and seventh in the 400-yard version.

Chelsea Chenault, a freshman last year, came close in the 200-yard free with a tenth place finish, while then sophomore Jasmine Tosky scored one position better with a ninth place finish in the 200-yard individual medley. Not far off the top ten were then senior Meghan Hawthorne, who placed 14th in the 200-yard individual medley, and then junior Andrea Kropp, who also notched a 14th with her 200-yard breast result.

Chenault enters her sophomore season battle-tested and somebody who can step up to deliver more and when counted on. For example, she was second in the lead off leg for USC’s NCAA Championship forth-place 800-yard freestyle relay team with a time of 1:44.92. Chenault also posted the Lady Trojan’s fastest times last year in the 200- and 500-yard free. She continued her success over the summer placing fifth at the U.S. Nationals in the 200-meter free (1:58.60).

Returning ladies junior Kendyl Stewart, senior Kropp and junior Tosky also posted top times last year for the USC. Stewart did it in the 100-yard fly and the 100- and 200-yard back. The versatile Tosky recorded hers in the 200-yard fly, but worth noting that she was the runner-up position in two other events (100-yard fly and 200-yard individual medley), and she made top-five USC marks in a total of five events. Kroop was the Lady Troy’s top performer in the 200-yard breast and runner up to Carlson in the 100-yard breast.

Look for Stewart to bounce back from a rough outing at last year’s NCAA Championships, where she was declared a false start (DFS) in the 100-yard back and placed 35th in the 200-yard back. She also placed 18th in the 100-yard fly, which is respectable but not the butterflyer the world saw this past summer.

Stewart redeemed herself this summer by taking U.S. Nationals titles in the 50-meter fly (25.99) and 100-meter fly (57.98). She went on to represent the U.S. at the Pan Pacific Championship in Australia, winning a bronze in the 100-meter fly. This bodes well for her and the Trojans on the NCAA stage.

All of these underclassmen from last year, plus Joanna Stenkvist and sprint tandem junior Kasia Wilk and sophomore Evan Swenson figured into the Lady Trojan NCAA Championship relays. USC teams earned fourth in the 800-yard free relay, sixth in the 400-yard free relay, seventh in the 400-yard individual medley relay, and ninth place in the 200-yard individual medley relay. That’s a lot of points that USC will want to at least retain this year.

There is no doubt that Salo and his coaching staff have a plan to do that. After all they are a top-tier program with a history of good recruiting and underclassmen stepping up. But one has to wonder if the individual results produced by the departures will be delivered from the current roster.

Worrall and her Freshmen Friends

Coming in new to the USC to help this year are back and fly specialists. Freshmen Lindsay Lauder, Kindle Van Linge, and Hannah Weiss will be joined by U.K. senior Lucy Worrall, who arrives at the USC from the University of Miami as a junior transfer.

Worrall, who received an All-ACC Academic Recognition in 2013, will score. She placed thirteenth at the NCAA Championship in the 100-yard fly that season, broke Miami’s school record in the 200-yard fly (1:57.32), and broke the ACC record in the 100-yard fly (51.98). She and Stewart will make a strong fly duo.

Look for Van Linge, Canadian Lauder, and Weiss, who will likely challenge for relay spots, to develop under Salo’s guidance and play roles where needed.

What to Expect from the Women?

The last time the Women of Troy won the national championships was in 1997. That will be difficult to do this season, as there is no past USC race horse such as Hungarian Katinka Hosszu or Rebecca Soni on the swim roster to lead the points charge.

The weight of delivering championship points does rest on the shoulders of the 4’11” Haley Ishimatsu, who last year piled up the points with two Pac-12 Conference titles and one NCAA title, plus two more NCAA point-scoring results. The 5th ranked Lady Trojans will need those points again.

All five championship scoring relays, which last year were predominantly filled by USC underclassmen, will be a strong card that can be played. Wilk and Swenson will need to find the Land-of-Sub-22 in the 50-yard free to bring that extra punch to the short relays that Carlson delivered, not to mention points in the individual sprint events.

It might be too steep of a step for the Lady Trojans to win a national championship this year. Another top five NCAA finish is likely if the veterans can get into the scoring positions that Carlson, Gardell and Hawthorne delivered last year. If they do that, it will be a character win and will put them in a good position to duplicate their third place Pac-12 finish and their fifth place NCAA results from last year, which would extend their streak of top five finishes to eight straight years.

The Trojans race agains Washington State on October 9th and will be in action again on Oct. 17 when they make the trip to San Luis Obispo to face Cal Poly. The next day they are in Santa Barbara to dual University of California, Santa Barbara. Both meets start at 1 p.m. PT.

On Oct. 25-25, the Cardinal and Gold will host the USC Invite.

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6 years ago

Stewart has to be the favorite to win the 100 fly, right? If Stewart and Tosky and Wilk step up, the team can do very well.

Reply to  a_trojan
6 years ago

I think you’re spot on, A-Trojan, Stewart should certainly be in the conversation for the 100 fly title. The short list might also include Hinds of Florida (she’s swimming well already this year), Hu of Stanford (if that’s one event Meehan has her swim…so many options for her!), Thomas of Cal, and of course both Worrell of Louisville and Erasmus of SMU. Early on here, but I’ll predict 3 will be under 51…Stewart should be one of those, I’m thinking.

6 years ago

Was alluded to in comments about one of the commits and didn’t think it was fair to rain on someone’s parade, but what’s going on with USC recruiting in So Cal? Extremely deep class (5 So Cals in the top 20), but unless Salo lands Weitzeil, that’s an 0-fer. Great coach, good school, shiny new facility, why can’t Salo keep the elite locals home?

Reply to  duckduckgoose
6 years ago

Some kids want to get away from home… these kids travel all over the country going to meets and see all different schools and campuses. It opens their eyes. I am always surprised when kids stay close to home when they can pick anywhere in the country to go (as most top 20 recruits have that option).

They can always come home after college 🙂

6 years ago

I think you forgot freshman diver Annie Whelan!