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Babraj Resigns From Rowing

USC women's rowing head coach Zenon Babraj announced his resignation today after 15 seasons in charge.

Click here for the full story.

"We thank Zenon for his 15 years at USC and wish him well in the future," said USC athletic director Lynn Swann. "Under his guidance, USC women's rowing became a nationally-prominent and nationally-competitive program. We will begin a national search for his replacement and look forward to building upon the foundation Zenon set."

Babraj, 62, was a 2-time CRCA West Region and Pac-12 Women's Rowing Coach of the Year (2007 and 2013). He led the Women of Troy to all 10 of the program's NCAA championship berths, including a fourth place finish in 2013 and the school's first-ever team bid in 2005, as well as the program's only conference team title (in 2007). At USC, he coached 25 CRCA All-Americans, 44 All-West Region picks and 26 All-Conference selections, along with 66 conference All-Academic honorees and 29 CRCA National Scholar-Athlete awardees.

During his tenure, USC never lost to UCLA in the annual crosstown dual, won the San Diego Crew Classic's Jessop-Whittier Cup 6 times and captured 3 Pac-12 titles. His team was ranked No. 1 nationally for parts of the 2007, 2012 and 2013 seasons. He twice saw a trio of USC boats advance to the NCAA grand finals (2011 and 2013). He had a pair of bronze medal winners in the NCAA varsity eight (2007 and 2012) and a silver medal varsity four in 2013.

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Gold River Rowing

usc-rowing-2017-lmu-1947.jpgUSC women's rowing placed fifth at the Pac-12 Championships in Gold River, CA this weekend.

Click here for the full recap.

USC's best performance came in the Varsity 4+, where Caroline McMorrow, Kendall Sinosky, Katarzyna Pilch, Krete Koovit and Chloe Chrysikopoulos posted a 7:10.037 to finish third.

No. 15 USC finished fifth in the Varsity 8+ and seventh in the second Varsity 8+ to close out the weekend in fifth, behind No. 1 Washington, No. 2 Cal, No. 8 Stanford and No. 14 Washington State.

The Women of Troy now await the NCAA Rowing Championship selections, which will be announced tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT.

Follow USC Women's Rowing on Twitter and Instagram to stay in the loop!

State of Troy - May 2017

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

usc-beach-volleyball-pepperdine-ncaa-championship-mcgillen-050617-8842.jpgSwann on USC beach volleyball's third consecutive national championship...

Winning a championship is everybody's goal, but it is hard to attain. A three-peat is absolutely remarkable. It is one of the unique historical accomplishments to happen in any sport. For our top pair, Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, their record is extraordinary. They will not realize how big this is for quite some time, and it is only going to get bigger.

Swann on the reaction to the recently-unveiled Coliseum seating plan after the renovation...

The messaging that went out last week was really well received. Most importantly, people understand it. Of course, there are a few folks fearful of change, but change is inevitable in any renovation and necessary in our situation. We will be sure to communicate with every one of our Trojan Athletic Fund members and season-ticket holders one-on-one to address their concerns as we believe that we have a suitable option for everyone. The fundraising support has been tremendous, and we are extremely grateful to all our loyal alumni and fans. At the end of the day, I believe that the Trojan Family will be happy with the changes that we are making and embrace the new seating grid. We will come together, support this football program, support this cause and turn out in full force for years to come. We will Fight On.

Click here for more information on the Coliseum renovation!

Swann on the APR report...

I'm very proud of our student-athletes for their conscientious efforts in the classroom that have led to a best-ever department APR of 976. To have nearly half of our 21 teams record their highest APR in history is a testament to our focus on the "student" part of the student-athlete equation. We should also acknowledge the emphasis our coaches put on the academic performance of their teams and the support provided by our staff in the Stevens Academic Center.

Swann on Commencement Week...

This is my first time here for graduation week as the athletic director, and it is very exciting. Congratulations to all the seniors and post-grads on earning your degrees. I am looking forward to the Student-Athlete Graduation on Thursday and then the main ceremony on Friday. Unfortunately, some of our student-athletes will miss graduation because they are competing in postseason tournaments. It is one of the difficult aspects of being an athlete. But, our student-athletes put so much time and effort into competing for championships that I know they are willing to make the sacrifice to reach for their goals.


usc-womens-water-polo-princeton-2017-mcgillen-5185.jpgSwann on the rest of the spring sport calendar...

Men's and women's golf are beginning their road to the NCAA Championships. The men are in a great position as head coach Chris Zambri has done an excellent job. They had to battle snowy conditions at the Pac-12 Championships in Colorado, which maybe threw them off their game a bit, but they have an opportunity to win the program's first national championship. Andrea Gaston always seems to put the women's team in a position to succeed in the postseason, so I look forward to seeing what they do as well.

Women's water polo will battle for the NCAA title this weekend in Indianapolis. They will go in as the three-seed. They are used to being on top, but they have taken a couple losses lately. It all comes down to the NCAA Tournament though, and Jovan Vavic knows how to win championships.

Men's and women's tennis also begin NCAA Tournament play this week. The men have been playing beautifully, including winning the Pac-12 Tournament, and I expect them to compete for more hardware at the NCAA Championships. The women's team has really improved late in the season, so they could have a good showing as well.

Women's lacrosse has to travel to Florida for the postseason. Coach Lindsey Munday has had this team ready to play from day one. They have grown in confidence every step of the way. I look for them to continue their outstanding play.

Men's and women's track & field will battle for the conference championship this weekend up in Oregon. They have had a great season. I really enjoyed the Dual Meet win for the Women of Troy over UCLA, but the men fell a little bit short. I think both teams are peaking towards postseason competition.

Baseball continues on with a trip to Utah this week. We hope to put together a late season run after a tough couple of weeks.

Women's rowing is working hard. They have a difficult schedule with all the travel, but I think they will make a good showing at the Pac-12 Championships this week. It's that time of year. Everybody is competing and pushing to win hardware.

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday, USC women's rowing beat UCLA to extend its all-time record against the Bruins to 16-0.

Click here for the full recap!

UCLA started off a point ahead, as the Trojans didn't enter a boat in the 3V8+ race. USC tied it up with a win in V4, but the Bruins surged ahead after earning two points by winning the 2V8+ race.

Trailing 3-1, USC needed a first place finish in the 1V8+ to secure a win in the dual. The Trojans finished 1.4 seconds ahead of the Bruins to clinch the victory.

Next up for the Trojans are the Pac-12 Championships in Gold River, CA. Competition begins on May 14.

McGillen Gallery: USC Rowing vs. LMU

USC's 12th-ranked women's rowing team won each of seven races in a scrimmage against LMU this weekend in Marina Del Rey, CA.

Check out USC team photographer John McGillen's photos of the meet:

Crew Stays Classy In San Diego

USC women's rowing opened up the 2017 season with a win and two second-place finishes at the 44th San Diego Crew Classic this weekend.

Click here for the full recap!


The Trojans won the Varsity Four Grand Final with a time of 7:15.03, finishing just over a second ahead of second-place Texas.

In the Varsity Eight Grand Final, they finished second -- just under four seconds behind the Longhorns, with a time of 6:20.55. USC garnered another second-place finish in the Women's Open Grand Final, clocking in at 7:00.45 -- just over six seconds behind first-place Stanford.

USC finished fifth in the Women's Collegiate 2V8+ Final as well.

The No. 13 Trojans take on Loyola Marymount in Marina Del Rey this Saturday.

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Just before USC men's basketball heads to Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament, USC women's rowing competed in the Lake Las Vegas Collegiate Invitational this weekend.

The Trojans squared up against Washington in the preseason bout, winning the 1000m Varsity 8+, the 500m Varsity 8+ and the 1000m Varsity 4+, but falling in the 2000m races.

Click here for the full recap!

The event served as one final tune-up before USC's season opener on April 1 at the 44th San Diego Crew Classic in Mission Bay.

Stevens Center Academic Spotlight: Ida Jacobsen

USC's student-athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond and pool --- they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a bit better in our academic spotlight.

Jacobsen, Ida Gørtz.jpgName: Ida Gortz Jacobsen
Class: Junior
Sport: Rowing
Majors: Global Studies and Comparative Literature
Minor: Architecture
GPA: 3.83

Aubrey Kragen (AK): Can you tell me a little bit about the Global Studies program here and why you decided to study it?

Ida Jacobsen (IJ): Actually, I came in as an Anthropology major, but Global Studies is in the Anthropology department. Global Studies is more interdisciplinary, so I can take International Relations, Political Science and Comparative Literature classes for it. It has an Anthropology profile, so I take most of my classes in the Anthropology department. I took summer school in Paris with the IR program.

AK: What was studying in Paris like?

IJ: It was super fun. It was six weeks in Paris with 10 other USC students at the American University of Paris. I got to meet a lot of people outside of athletics, which was nice because it's hard to find friends outside sometimes, because we spend so much time on the team with each other. But it was a great experience -- I loved my professor there and I got to travel around Paris. It was about the European Union and politics issues in the past and the future. I'm from Denmark, so I find that very relevant.

AK: And how did you end up with an Architecture minor? I've heard it's a really rigorous program at USC.

IJ: I love the discipline and the creativity. I had a two-week internship in high school at a drawing studio in Copenhagen, and I've always liked looking at buildings and art. For me, it was just a good way to think creatively or think about the role of architecture, because it's all around us. I took a workshop class and loved it, and I've just been taking classes ever since.

AK: It sounds like you have a wide range of interests, so do you have a good idea of what you want to do career-wise, or are you still exploring?

IJ: I think I'm still exploring. I'm hoping that within the next year and a half, I'll have something more decisive. But I was really glad I took up the Comparative Literature major a year ago, because I love the interdisciplinarity of Global Studies, but Comparative Literature just grounds you in one field and you get to work with those texts deeply and very analytically. And I think that's really important because often you skim texts, and for me it's important to stay in those details and ask those questions that we don't always ask. So career-wise, maybe something in literature, but it all depends. I would love to go to graduate school, and I might want to go closer to home, either in Denmark or maybe Sweden or England.

AK: How did you end up at USC after growing up in Denmark?


IJ: I received a message from our assistant coach once, basically saying, "Have you thought about going to school in the U.S. and rowing?" I was taken aback by it and I didn't really know at first, because not a lot of people that I know had done that in the rowing world. But I was sure that I didn't want to go straight from high school to a university in Denmark; I wanted to do something fun to get out of that little country, so I took a chance and I just stuck with it. I wasn't sure when I came here whether I wanted to do just one or two years, but it just happened and I'm really glad it did.

AK: What's a typical day like balancing rowing practice with a double major and a minor?

IJ: I get up at 5:30 and we leave on a bus at 6 a.m. to practice on the water for 90 minutes to two hours. Then I get back and have class at 10, 11 or 12. Usually three to four hours of class per day. Then Monday, Wednesday, Friday we have afternoon practices as well. And then two practices on Saturday as well. So I try to get all my work done before 8 so I can totally focus on hanging out with friends or roommates after that.

AK: What is your involvement with the Oversight Committee for Athletic Academic Affairs (OCAAA)?

IJ: OCAAA is a mix of student representatives from athletics and faculty members from different departments, like Dornsife and the cinema and law school. We talk about issues relating to athletics and academics, because they often blend together, both in good ways and not-so-good ways. We work to make faculty and students more aware of the rules and who should report to who when something happens. I learn a lot while just sitting and listening in meetings. I've learned that USC really tries hard to make sure that things are done the right way.

AK: Lastly, what are some of the things you want to achieve at USC and beyond?

IJ: For athletics, we had three really good races in our offseason and a great training camp right before Christmas. It's been such a great energy, and I think if we can keep that energy going all the way through national championships, the goal could easily be being in the Top 3 or Top 6 of NCAAs, maybe even win a title. That would be great. Academically, just keep doing what I'm doing. I want to figure out a more set field to go into. I've had several classes that I've fallen in love with, but still finding out which field exactly or which language, which path I want to go.

Trophy Time

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During the Trojans' game vs. Colorado on Saturday, USC's female student-athletes were presented their trophy and check for winning the 2015-16 Capital One Cup.

The Capital One Cup recognizes NCAA Division I athletics programs for their cumulative performance across multiple men's and women's sports. The Women of Troy earned their first ever Capital One Cup Trophy by winning two national championships (water polo and beach volleyball) and posting eight total Top-10 finishes (lacrosse, volleyball, golf, swimming, track and indoor track) last season. USC's spring sports helped catapult the program from 17th place at the end of the winter season to the top overall spot.

As part of the presentation, Capital One also presented USC with a $200,000 check for student-athlete scholarships.

Currently, USC's women's soccer, volleyball, golf, cross country and swimming programs are working to keep the Women of Troy atop the college athletics totem pole. Women's swimming heads to the SMU Classic on Friday, while volleyball faces Oregon in Eugene on Friday night. Women's golf will start play in the Stanford Intercollegiate tournament on Friday as well.

21 Pilots

Heading into the 2016-17 season, representatives from each of USC's 21 sports met on top of the AT&T Center for the annual "All 21" photo shoot. The AT&T Center, just two miles from campus, overlooks the skyline of downtown Los Angeles, where the Trojans call home.

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Top row, from left to right: Nick Bell (men's water polo), Nina Kelty (lacrosse), Rebekah Ent (cross country), Anika  Apostalon (women's swimming), Eric Sloan (men's track & field), Courtney Jaco (women's basketball), Karen Chung (women's golf), Lucas Yoder (men's volleyball), Reed Malone (men's swimming), Brianna Daboub (women's water polo), Sara Hughes (beach volleyball), Jeremy Martinez (baseball)

Bottom row, from left to right: Zach Banner (football), Zoe Katz (women's tennis), Jordan McLaughlin (men's basketball), Amalie Iuel (women's track & field), Madara Strautmane (rowing), Nick Crystal (men's tennis), Collin Pollard (men's diving), Taylor Whittingham (women's volleyball), Savannah Levin (women's soccer), Sean Crocker (men's golf), Madison Witt (women's diving)

Pride of Poland

Polish-born Anna Wierzbowska is one of 44 Trojans representing 21 countries at Rio 2016. While the former captain of USC's rowing team certainly has the support of the Trojan family, she's also got another type of family to lean on during the games -- Wierzbowska is competing with her sister, Maria, in women's pair rowing.


Anna Wierzbowska, a first time Olympian, lettered at USC from 2009-12. She helped USC's varsity eight finish third at the 2012 NCAA championships.

The Wierzbowska sisters came in third in their preliminary race and will compete in the women's pair rowing semifinals at 3:30 a.m. PT on Wednesday.

Watch Anna discuss her time at USC and her relationship with her sister:

#USC2RIO: Anna Wierzbowska

The countdown is on to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and once again, USC will be represented by a roster of Trojans that would match most countries. Time to unveil your USC Olympians...

Name: Anna Wierzbowska

Country: Poland

Event: Women's Rowing


Anna Wierzbowska heads to Rio 2016 as one half of a sister act, rowing in the women's pairs with her sibling, Maria. The 2010 USC All-American was a Trojan captain and helped the Women of Troy win their second of back-to-back Jessop-Whittier Cup titles at the San Diego Crew Classic. She graduated from USC with a degree in international relations in May 2012.

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Spring Smarts

After a phenomenal spring seasons in the water and on the court, beach, track and field, six USC teams closed the book on a successful academic semester as well, collecting postseason academic awards at both the conference and national levels.

Announced last week, eleven members of the conference-winning USC women's lacrosse team, five men's volleyball players and five members of the women's water polo team, which posted it's third-highest team GPA this semester, earned MPSF All-Academic recognition. 

After winning the program's first-ever NCAA national championship, four members of the USC beach volleyball team - Nicolette Martin, Jenna Belton, Jo Kremer and Sophie Bukovec (pictured) - secured spots on the first-ever Pac-12 Beach Volleyball All-Academic teams. Martin received First Team honors, Belton and Kremer were named to the Second Team, while Bukovec garnered honorable mention. 

Three women's rowers, Sara Bilimoria, Kaelyn Ibold and Ida Gortz Jacobsen, received Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar-Athlete recognition

And rounding out the group of talented USC spring student-atheltes, USC senior Jaide Stepter, now headed to the NCAA Championships in the 400m hurdles, earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for her combined success on the track and in the classroom.

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Rowing to NCAAs

No. 12 USC women's rowing is headed to the NCAA Championships for the eight consecutive time and 10th time overall. This year's national regatta, featuring 22 teams, will take place on Lake Natoma in Gold River, CA, from May 27-29.

Click here for more.

The Women of Troy, who are coming off a fifth place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, will try to top their program-best fourth place showing in 2013. Only one Trojan boat has ever won an individual national title - the 1998 varsity four.

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Boat Raced

"All were merged into one smoothly working machine; they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades." - Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat

No. 12 USC women's rowing dominated No. 20 UCLA in the annual Crosstown Rowdown, sweeping the competition for the second time (2004) and extending the program's perfect record over the Bruins to 15-0.

"All four boats performed very well, up to their potential," said head coach Zenon Babraj. "They raised up to the occasion and performed fantastically."

Click here for the recap.

The Trojans' varsity eight continued its own streak in the dual having never lost in the 15 head-to-head meetings. USC's top boat blew away UCLA's best by eight seconds.

Click here for the video highlights and recap.

The Women of Troy now begin preparations for the Pac-12 Championships set for Sunday, May 15, at Lake Natoma in Gold River, CA.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the Dual Meet:


Rowing for the Cup

No. 12 USC women's rowing welcomes No. 20 UCLA to the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday for the annual dual meet (8:40 a.m. start). The Crosstown Rowdown carries 10 important points as the Trojans close in on the BMW Crosstown Cup.

Click here for the preview.

The Women of Troy have won 14 consecutive dual meets over the Bruins. To track the results of the races, follow @USCWomensRowing on Twitter.

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Season Opening Sweep

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

USC women's rowing broke out the brooms with a Sunday sweep of San Diego State for its first win of the season.


The varsity eight won its race by over 15 seconds with a final time of 5:19.58. That margin of victory was surpassed by the varsity four, which convincingly defeated the Aztecs by nearly 30 seconds with a finish of 6:03.44.

After the top boats set the tone, the second and third varsity teams of eight won comfortably as well, both by over 10 seconds. Second varsity posted a time of 5:31.87 and third varsity finished at 5:55.29.

Following this victory, March will be dedicated to getting better with the San Diego Crew Classic looming on April 2.

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Trojans Going Green

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The USC athletic department is committed to sustainability, especially when it comes to team transportation, energy and water usage and food consumption. To improve efforts and implement this green mindset, Trojan Sustainability created the Green Teams Program, a competition between USC varsity and club teams to see which were the most sustainable and who had the best practices. 


The women are proving to be the most environmentally-friendly, with the USC women's beach volleyball and rowing teams earning certification from Trojan Sustainability. The current AVCA national champions earned Cardinal-level status thanks to their carpooling efforts and locker room recycling, along with their volunteer efforts at different beach clean-ups.

The USC women's rowing team earned Gold-level certification by adopting its own zero-waste plan spearheaded by assistant coach Ligita Kaviere and installing low-flow attachments on their appliances.

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Dual Threats

Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The Women of Troy are setting the bar high both on and off the field, as demonstrated by the eleven women's lacrosse players named to the MPSF All-Academic Team and the three women's rowers recognized by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association as National Scholar-Athletes this season.

Seniors Kaila Sommi (pictured) and Kaitlyn Couture, who boast the best GPAs on the team, topped the USC women's lacrosse selections as three-time selections to the all-academic team. Sommi graduated with a 3.86 in business administration and Couture finished the semester with a 3.36 in communication and digital social media. Just wrapping up the program's third year, USC lacrosse already has 23 total MPSF All-Academic honorees.

Click here for the complete list of women's lacrosse All-Academic selections.

Women's rowing boasts three CRCA National Scholar-Athletes in junior Sara Bilimoria, sophomore Kaelyn Ibold and senior Elizabeth Turner, who is receiving the honor for the third time. The Trojans have had 27 National Scholar-Athletes in the program's history.

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Record-Setting Academic Semester

The academic performance of USC's student-athletes continues to rise to record levels semester after semester.

In the just-completed Spring 2015 semester, the average semester grade point average of USC's 550 student-athletes increased to 3.00 and the cumulative GPA average was 2.93, both the highest figures since records were first compiled in 2000 (besting the 2.95 and 2.88 record marks that were posted in the Fall 2014 semester).

WP-Grads-PC.jpgThere were 305 student-athletes with a Spring 2015 GPA of at least 3.0--comprising 55% of USC's student-athlete population, the largest percentage of student-athletes with at least a 3.0 semester GPA in USC history.  There were 14 Trojans with perfect 4.0 semester GPAs.  Some 143 Trojan student-athletes made the Dean's List in the Spring 2015 semester, 15 more than any other semester.

For the second semester in a row, 12 of USC's teams had a Spring 2015 GPA over 3.0, led by the women's soccer squad's 3.35 (the men's high was volleyball's 3.17).

The football team had its highest semester (2.71) and cumulative (2.52) GPA on record.  The cume figure has improved each of the past four semesters.  Nearly a third of the football roster (a record 33 players) posted a Spring 2015 GPA of at least 3.0 and, for the third consecutive semester, nine football players were on the Dean's List.

Women's rowing had 16 members on the Dean's List, while women's lacrosse had 15, women's swimming and diving had 13, women's soccer had 11, women's track and field and women's water polo both had 10 and men's volleyball, men's track and field and men's swimming and diving each had nine Dean's Listers.

Men's basketball's 2.74 Spring 2015 GPA was a high for the sport and it was nearly a .50 increase over its Fall 2014 mark.  Its 2.66 cumulative GPA was its second highest total ever.

Making USC's rising student-athlete academic success all the more impressive is the fact that these numbers were accomplished with a smaller pool of total student-athletes because of roster management measures implemented recently by the athletic department.

"First, congratulations to all of our student-athletes for putting in the hard work in the classroom and seeing it result like this," said Dr. Magdi El-Shahawy, USC senior associate athletic director in charge of Student-Athlete Academic Services.  "They have done a wonderful job balancing their athletic and academic pursuits.  We also must recognize the efforts of our academic counselors, learning specialists and tutors, as well as the cooperative spirit of our coaches and athletic department administration.  They all work diligently to uphold a standard of academic excellence that ensures USC student-athletes have the necessary skills to succeed in life.

"Since SAAS moved into the Stevens Academic Center in the John McKay Center three years ago, we have seen a noticeable increase in the academic performance of our student-athletes.  We are so grateful for the gifts of Mark Stevens and our many other donors, as their support is vital to our continued academic success."
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