The thrill of swimming peaks when a swimmer trembles on the starting block knowing he or she is about to race beside an Olympian in the next lane.

The UCSB men’s and women’s swim teams have the pleasure of this event when they go up against USC on Saturday, Jan. 11.

The Gauchos can expect fierce competition in the dual meet featuring the USC men’s swim team that boasts a nationally ranked #6 squad, with swimmers continually breaking school records. Last year’s competition resulted in a devastating 202-60 defeat.

“Their one weakness is the freestyle sprint,” UCSB Assistant Coach Jeremy Kipp said.

With this added pressure on the freestylers, the Santa Barbara men’s team will try to take advantage of this opportunity.

The UCSB women’s squad has the added bonus of a Friday meet against San Jose State before they face the Trojans on Saturday. San Jose Head Coach Victor Wales, who took over in 2001, once guided Santa Barbara’s program. Last season’s meet against the Spartans ended in a slim one-point win. However, with UCSB’s freshmen swimmers giving the program a major boost, it is likely that the win this year will be much greater.

“We expect to swim well,” Kipp said.

While the Gauchos are focused for their meet with SJSU, Santa Barbara can’t help but look ahead to Saturday’s showdown with the tenth-ranked Trojans. The meet may be won in the freestyle sprint, where UCSB probably holds the upper hand. Senior freestyle sprinter Julia King holds the women’s all-time school record and will need to swim her best to give the Gauchos a shot. It should be an exciting weekend as UCSB swimming hosts one of the toughest dual meets of the season.