No. 4 Stanford women’s swimming and diving (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) begins its defense of its conference title today as it welcomes the Washington State Cougars (0-0, 0-0) to Avery Aquatic Center for its first conference dual meet of the season.
After the Cardinal easily cruised past San Jose State in its season-opening meet last week, 138-100, it will look to continue a strong start to the season against a Cougar team that struggled to a 1-5 record in conference dual meets last season, with an average margin of defeat of a whopping 62 points.
In its victory against San Jose State last Thursday afternoon, Stanford received strong contributions from all across the board, including from veteran seniors Maya DiRado and Felicia Lee and some new faces — freshmen Tara Halsted and Lia Neal.
Stanford returns 24 players for the 2013-14 season. Last year, the Card finished eighth in the NCAA championships — its 33rd consecutive top-10 finish dating back to 1981. This year’s freshman class is expected bring in new power to keep the Card in the top 10 once again. SwimSwam ranked Stanford’s recruiting class at No. 4.
Today’s meet against the Cougars will offer another opportunity for head coach Greg Meehan to continue to evaluate the younger members of his team against easier competition. He expressed a desire to see improvement from the freshmen after last week’s meet, despite wins by Neal and Halsted.
It will also be the last opportunity for the coaches to evaluate their swimmers in a meet setting until the end of October. Although the dual meets generally provide a less competitive atmosphere for teams, this will be a significant opportunity for the coaches to examine the players against a Washington State team getting its feet wet in its first meet of the season.
Just one day later, the No. 7 Stanford men’s swimming and diving team will look to rebound from a disappointing 2012-13 performance with its first meet of the new season at home against UC-Santa Cruz.
Last season, the Cardinal finished seventh in the NCAA Championships amidst higher expectations. Two disqualifications hindered the Card’s success despite top finishes by junior diver Kristian Ipsen and junior swimmer David Nolan. Both are expected to lead the team heading into the 2013-14 season.
The Banana Slugs should not offer significant competition to the championship-hopeful Cardinal to open the season, as the squad from Santa Cruz did not finish ranked, even in the less competitive Division III of collegiate athletics.
With both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ranked in the top 10 to start the season, fans should expect both teams to put on impressive showings, and the men especially will be anxious to improve at the NCAA championships at the end of the season.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ’at’ stanford.edu.