Swimming with Swagger

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The USC men's 400y free relay team is the best in the country.  The clock tells them so and they believe it.

 "I don't think there is anybody we cannot beat," said junior Jack Wagner, who has arrived at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis with his teammates. 

400-Relay-P12-13.jpgWagner teamed with Olympians and All-Americans Vladimir Morozov, Dimitri Colupaev and Cristian Quintero to set a school-record at the Pac-12 Championships. The time of 2:48.66 is 1.5 seconds faster than any other relay team in the country, so the Trojans bear the top seed target.

"I'm sure there are going to be other teams coming for us," said Wagner.  "We've instilled enough fear with that time in the other teams that we have a lot of confidence going in."

Click here for the complete preview of No. 4 USC men's swimming and diving at NCAAs.

If the quartet had a nickname, the Trojan sprinters would be known as "The United Nations."  They represent four different countries: Wagner (USA), Morozov (Russia), Colupaev (Germany) and Quintero (Venezuela).

Despite the diversity of backgrounds, the team swims as one.  "It's a good chemistry between us guys," said Colupaev.  "The harmony is there."

While they all have tasted individual success in the pool, the relay team relies on Morozov as the leader and anchor to take them home.  He is the most decorated swimmer on the team with an Olympic bronze medal, and ranks as USC's fastest ever swimmer in the 50y and 100y free.

"I don't really feel the pressure," said Morozov.  "I feel more comfortable as the anchor.  I am going to do whatever it takes."

Quintero is the newest addition to the band.  While the rest are juniors, he is just a sophomore.  And while the rest are sprinters by trade, Quintero swims longer distances, and traditionally competes in the mile race before the relay.

"I always liked to swim the 100," said Quintero, who won the 200y and 500y free at Pac-12 Championships.  "I like fast events.  Even though I also swim the mile, I feel like it's fun."

Like Quintero, Colupaev is an individual champion.  He won the Pac-12 200y free in 2010 and 2011 only to be unseated by his Venezuelan teammate, but relays push him to swim even faster.

"You blend out all the barriers and limits in your head to catch the guy ahead of you," said Colupaev about relays.  "You don't think much, and you just compete to get your hand on the wall much faster."

Without a senior in the bunch, the 400y free relay team has an eye on history.   "We can leave a mark in college swimming," said Colupaev.

But first, the Trojans must take care of business in Indy.  "Just comes down to doing everything right," said Morozov.  "Think right and do right."

(Photo of the 400y free relay team via

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