Calling Stanford swimming and diving’s schedule for the next two days “action-packed” would be an understatement.
Both the men’s and women’s Cardinal swimmers and divers are set to compete in back-to-back home dual meets starting tomorrow. The two-day stretch will see Stanford host both Arizona schools in the Pac-12, one of the nation’s most respected conferences in swimming and diving. The Cardinal will square off with Arizona State on Friday, followed by a quick turnaround to compete against Arizona on Saturday.
On the men’s side, the No. 3 Cardinal is undefeated in dual meet competition so far this season at 5-0 and hopes to improve to 7-0 by Saturday afternoon. Although no team in the Pac-12 should be overlooked, Stanford should not be seriously challenged in Friday’s matchup against Arizona State, as the Sun Devils are coming into the meet with a 0-5 record. The tougher test will come on Saturday, when the Cardinal takes on the Arizona Wildcats, the No. 1 team in the nation. Although the results of NCAA Championships are ultimately more important than mid-season rankings, the showdown between the No. 1 and No. 3 teams will certainly prove to be an intriguing matchup as well as one of the biggest collegiate dual meets of the season.
Arizona’s lineup of men’s swimmers is impressive to say the least, with multiple swimmers nationally ranked in the top five in individual events. The Wildcats wouldn’t be ranked No. 1 without some of the country’s fastest swimmers, showcasing a pair of senior stars. In both the 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley, Arizona senior Cory Chitwood currently owns the nation’s fastest times by almost two full seconds. Senior Austen Thompson also has the fastest 400 individual medley time by an absurd margin of six seconds.
Not to be outdone, Stanford has its own arsenal of fast swimmers. Freshman David Nolan embodies versatility as he has some of the country’s fastest times in multiple events, including top-10 times in the 200 individual medley, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly. Senior Bobby Bollier is ranked second in the 200 butterfly, senior Chad La Tourette third in the 1650 freestyle and senior Curtis Lovelace seventh in the 200 breaststroke. La Tourette has been especially dominant in the distance events in dual meet situations, holding a 19-event win streak and winning 21 out of 22 events in his collegiate career. In fact, La Tourette hasn’t lost since his freshman year, and those losses were against Stanford teammates.
The Cardinal divers will also be critical if Stanford is to pull off the upset, with freshman Kristian Ipsen and senior Taylor Sishc both coming off wins from the Cardinal Diving Invitational last weekend.
The women’s team will face equally stiff competition, facing two top-25 teams in No. 24 Arizona State and No. 5 Arizona. Against these two teams, history is clearly on Stanford’s side. The Cardinal has been undefeated against Arizona State in dual meets since 2001 while also carrying an eight-meet winning streak against Arizona. Currently ranked sixth in the nation, the women’s swimmers and divers will have their hands full in back-to-back top-25 matchups, but they will also have an opportunity to showcase some fast times.
The women’s team is especially stellar in the sprint events. Senior Sam Woodward is ranked second nationally in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 50 freestyle. In fact, there are three Cardinal swimmers in the national top 12 for the 50 freestyle. It should be no surprise, then, that the team currently has the fastest time in the 200 freestyle relay and second-fastest time in the 400 freestyle relay on the national stage. The Cardinal sprinters, however, will have to face Arizona’s Margo Geer, who owns the nation’s third-fastest time in the 100 freestyle and fifth-fastest time in the 50 freestyle.
Also crucial for the Cardinal’s success is the speed of sophomore backstroke star Maya DiRado, who currently owns the fastest time in the nation in the 200 backstroke and top-three times in the 200 and 400 individual medley. DiRado will try to hold off Arizona’s fourth-ranked Sarah Denninghoff in the 200 backstroke and a pair of Wildcat individual medley swimmers who are in the top 25. On the diving board, sophomore Stephanie Phipps, who swept the springboard events at last weekend’s Cardinal Invitational, will look to rack up as many points as she can.
The women’s team will compete against Arizona State at 2 p.m. on Friday and Arizona at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Avery Aquatic Center. The men’s team will face off against Arizona State at noon on Friday and Arizona at 11 a.m. on Saturday at 11 a.m., also at Avery.