The Stanford men’s swimming and diving team took a trip down to USC this past weekend, hoping for some fast individual swims and a team win. The Cardinal accomplished both of those goals as No. 3 Stanford (7-1, 3-1 Pac-12) swam some eye-popping times while defeating No. 5 USC 175-118 on Saturday.
Coming into the meet, there was little doubt that USC McDonald’s Swim Stadium was going to be the site of some of the fastest performances in the nation so far this season. The quality of competition was top-notch as Stanford, USC and Cal—teams all ranked in the top six nationally—met for a quasi-tri-meet.
USC and Cal squared off first on Friday while Stanford swam exhibition. On Saturday, Stanford dueled against USC while Cal’s swims were not officially scored.
Although the Cardinal swimmers could have just taken it easy on the first day, they instead used this golden opportunity to put up some fast times against national-caliber teams. Stanford would carry this momentum and take it to an even higher level the next day against USC.
The Cardinal made a statement from the beginning by winning the 400 medley relay against the Trojans. Junior Aaron Wayne was able to hold off the fastest sprinter in the nation, USC’s Vladimir Morosov, in the last leg of the relay. Immediately after, senior Chad La Tourette maintained his dual-meet dominance by winning the 1650 freestyle, the longest event in collegiate competition. La Tourette would eventually finish the meet as a two-event winner by also notching a victory in the 500 freestyle—albeit by a much smaller margin.
Head coach Skip Kenney was “very pleased” with his team’s overall performance. He also attributed La Tourette’s success in dual-meet competition to his “hard work and talent as a leader of the team.”
Stanford ended up winning 11 of the 16 events in which it competed. But it was the combination of those first-place finishes with the team’s outstanding depth that helped it quickly pull away from USC. The Cardinal managed to swim a 1-2-3 sweep in four events and finish 1-2 in four others.
The first of these 1-2-3 sweeps, led by senior Bobby Bollier, came in the 200 butterfly. This event was crucial, as it was near the middle of the meet and essentially made a USC win very unlikely. From that point on, the gap between the Cardinal and the Trojans kept on widening. With four events left in the meet, Stanford started swimming exhibition, meaning that some of the team’s scored points were not officially counted.
On the diving board, the freshman duo of Kristian Ipsen and Connor Kuremsky respectively finished 1-2 on both springboard events—a feat that’s been seen quite a lot throughout this season. The duo led the way for the Cardinal diving squad to collectively outscore their Trojan counterparts by a score of 26-10.
In USC’s defense, the Trojans may have been feeling the after effects of a tough meet against Cal the day earlier. USC’s Morosov held his own against the Cardinal with two individual wins. But even his two victories were not easy to come by. Morosov barely held off Cardinal junior Aaron Wayne in the 100 freestyle and freshman David Nolan in the 100 breaststroke.
The race between Morosov and Nolan was especially interesting because the event was somewhat of an unfamiliar territory for both swimmers. Morosov specializes in the freestyle events, while Nolan’s weakest stroke is the breaststroke. In the end, Morosov was able to edge out Nolan by just two-tenths of a second.
On top of leaving Southern California with a win, Stanford also got a good preview of Cal, even though the two rivals did not officially compete against each other. It’s only fitting that the two teams will meet for the last dual meet of the regular season.
The Cardinal’s showdown against the Golden Bears will be at home on Feb. 18.