The USC Trojans Swimming & Diving team had a great season, by all standards, fittingly enough during Dave Salo’s final year as the head coach.
In his USC career finale, Salo earned Pac-12 Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year honors the Pac-12 announced this week. Senior co-captain Louise Hansson added to her incredible career with honors as the Pac-12’s Women’s Swimmer of the Year and freshman diver Nike Agunbiade was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
Salo won the same exact award in 2016 after USC won the Pac-12 that year. Over the past 11 years, USC has actually finished in the top three in the conference 10 times. That’s remarkable consistency for his program.
“I am humbled to be honored by the Pac-12 coaches,” Salo said. “There was some great coaching by all the Pac-12 coaches this year and I am truly honored to be finishing my USC career amongst these outstanding people. I am equally proud of how our team pushed through a very difficult season to bring such a distinction to the end of my Trojan career.”
Hansson was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year — the school’s first such award since 2011 — and had earned her way to three individual titles in the Pac-12 Championships earlier this month. She finished with eight individual Pac-12 wins and had two first-play relay finishes as well.
“I am proud to have been able to coach Louise over these past four years,” Salo said, “and watch her become the best in NCAA swimming and an ever growing confident international athlete. Louise is the complete student-athlete and, much like Katinka Hosszu, was transformational to this program. Her best is still yet to come in all that she pursues.”
Documented about Hansson’s inability to finish her illustrious career the right way due to coronavirus, her honors of Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year help ease a bit of the pain caused by the cancellation of the seasons and NCAA postseason tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agunbiade won the Pac-12 Freshman Diver of the Year after leading all freshmen divers with 77 points in the Pac-12 Championship. Her incredible performance was good enough for third among all divers, not just freshmen.
She finished second on the 3-meter dive as well and qualified for the Olympic Trials int he process. Agunbiade was the only freshman diver to finish top three in more than one championship event during the Pac-12 Championships.
“Nike demonstrates a raw athletic ability, incredible talent and proves her competitiveness throughout the season. All of these qualities come down to a fundamental principle of dedication, discipline, and diligent work. The award being presented to Nike is well deserved” said USC Head Diving Coach Hongping Li.
A season cut short but a terrific season well-deserved of some postseason hardware.
Congratulations Coach Salo, Louise and Nike. And, as always, #FightOn!