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Swimming / Tracy Dodds : USC's Williams Has Made the Right Moves

October 23, 1987|Tracy Dodds

If there is one thing that John Williams, USC's water polo coach, knows how to do, it's plan.

In 1980, when he heard that water polo was on the hit list of sports to be eliminated in a cost-cutting move, Williams, a certified public accountant, came up with a campaign that raised $60,000 and a plan for investing that money so that the team would cost the athletic department about half what it had been costing.

He also went into his meeting with then-Athletic Director Dick Perry armed with a report showing why water polo was an asset to the department, including its 95% graduation rate.

Water polo stayed.

In 1986, Williams was thinking long term again when he red-shirted five of his top players--junior two-meter man and power driver Rob Carver, senior two-meter man Jeff Whipple, sophomore driver Giacomo Rossi, junior driver Keith Leggett and sophomore goalie Brent Kimball. Even without those five, the Trojans managed to make the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament last season, surprising even Williams.

So this year, with those players back, along with nine returning lettermen, Williams is very optimistic.

Rossi, who spent his redshirt season playing in Italy and keeping his national team organizers happy, is back and leading the Trojans with 28 goals this season.

Williams is not promising a national championship because the competition among the West Coast teams that dominate the sport never lets up. But that's the goal, and there are early signs that it is not too farfetched.

It's early in the season, but USC is off to a 13-3 start, 1-1 in the conference after splitting a pair of games in the Bay Area last weekend. The Trojans beat defending NCAA champion Stanford, 6-4, but lost at California, which features swimmer Matt Biondi, 7-5.

The Trojans had beaten Cal in the UC Irvine tournament, 9-8, and then played a strong game in Berkeley. It was 5-5 with two minutes to play. So Williams was not especially upset that the Trojans lost the game, which was played before more than 3,000 fans.

USC and Cal will meet for a third time today at 4 p.m. at USC's Olympic Pool. That game will be televised by Prime Ticket, delayed until 7:30 p.m.

"Cal is always a hard team to beat," Williams said. "I thought we played a pretty good game up there. . . . Actually, things are going pretty well this season. The only game we really shouldn't have lost was the one we lost to Long Beach."

USC lost to Cal State Long Beach in the first round of the UCLA Invitational and ended up tied with the 49ers for second place in the tournament. UCLA won it, and is off to a 17-5 start.

Cal also has a big game to play at UCLA this weekend. Cal, ranked No. 1 in the country, will play the Bruins, ranked No. 2, at the Sunset Canyon Rec Center at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Swimming Notes UCLA graduate Tom Jager set the first world record in the 50-meter freestyle that was recognized by FINA when he swam a 22.32-second race in the Pan Pacific meet in August. The 22.33 recorded by Matt Biondi of Cal during the U.S. Swimming long course meet in Clovis, Calif., a couple of weeks earlier had been one in a series of "world bests" that he and Jager had been passing back and forth, as far as FINA was concerned. . . . The other world record at the Pan Pacific meet was set by David Wharton of Warminster, Pa., now a freshman at USC. He swam the 400-meter individual medley in 4:16.12. Those world records set in Brisbane, Australia, were generally underplayed in the United States, where the Pan Am Games were going on.

In defending its decision to "stick by a three-year-old agreement" and send its top swimmers to the Pan Pacific meet and its second team to the Pan Am Games, U.S. Swimming points out that although U.S. swimmers were winning 24 of 32 gold medals and a total of 42 medals in Australia, U.S. swimmers were still able to make the single largest medal haul ever at the Pan Am Games, winning 27 of 32 golds, setting seven Pan Am records and taking home 57 medals overall. It was the first time that every member of the U.S. team won a medal.

At the U.S. Swimming national convention in Atlanta last month, 15-year-old Janet Evans of Placentia was named Swimmer of the Year and the recipient of the Phillips Performance Award for her 1500-meter freestyle world record in Clovis. . . . Also at the convention, U.S. Swimming chose the USC Olympic pool as the site for the national long course meet next July. The short course national meet will be held in March in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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