After a week of heavy training in Hawaii, the No. 19/No. 14 Wisconsin swim and dive team is back on the road to take on No. 16/No. 8 USC at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center in Los Angeles this Friday.
The Badgers went into the semester break on a high thanks to many top times and school records at the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational, but the level of competition in L.A. might be a bit too much for this battle-tested team to handle.
On the men’s side, the Trojans have an arsenal of weapons that include redshirt juniors Dylan Carter and Santo Condorelli as well as sophomore Patrick Mulcare. Both Carter and Condorelli represented their countries at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and have continued to provide top-end speed through the first half of this season. Mulcare is coming off a fantastic first half of the year and has continued to surprise the swimming world with his upward trajectory.
For the women, freshman phenom Louise Hansson is head and shoulders the best swimmer on USC’s team. The speedy Swede is a versatile talent who can swim almost anything shorter than 200 yards at a high level and did just that at the Olympics. She is joined by senior Anika Apostalon, a transfer from San Diego State whose potential remains mostly untapped, as this is only her second year focusing exclusively on swimming after quitting water polo when she transferred.
The most contentious races Friday will be the sprint freestyles and backstroke, as USC is not an elite distance team. Look for Apostalon to challenge Wisconsin senior Chase Kinney on the women’s side in the 50-yard freestyle, and Carter and Condorelli to do the same with senior Cannon Clifton for the men. Hansson will have a hearty challenge from multiple Badgers in all of her primary events, most notably Kinney, sophomore Jess Unicomb and freshman Beata Nelson. In the backstroke and IM events, it will be a showdown between Mulcare and senior Brett Pinfold.
If the Badgers can come out of Uytengsu victorious, it will take a massive team effort and multiple lifetime-best performances in the sprint events as well as sweeps from the distance swimmers. It might look like a Herculean task on paper, but the Badgers are ready to go to battle.