The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams had an impressive showing in back-to-back dual meets against Arizona and Arizona State at the Avery Aquatic Center this past weekend.
The tough two-day stretch did not seem to faze the women’s team at all as No. 6 Stanford started off by soundly defeating No. 24 Arizona State 132.5-97.5 on Friday. The Cardinal then followed up that performance with an even more impressive upset over No. 5 Arizona the next day, winning 164-136 and improving its dual-meet record to 6-1.
Against Arizona State, the women’s team did not use its best lineup in an effort to save most of its firepower against a more fearsome Arizona team. The Cardinal relied on depth to defeat the formidable but clearly overmatched Sun Devils. In three classic examples, Stanford swept Arizona State in the 50 freestyle, 400 individual medley and 100 freestyle in 1-2-3 fashion. In those events alone, the Cardinal outscored the Sun Devils 48-8.
In both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events, Arizona State’s standout diver Elina Eggers edged out Stanford’s sophomore Stephanie Phipps. However, Eggers was the sole diver for the Sun Devils, allowing the Cardinal’s depth to match her two victories and tie Arizona State in diving at 18 points apiece.
As a result of the win on Friday, the women’s team carried some momentum going into its matchup against Arizona. Even with this momentum, however, a victory over the No. 5 team in the country would be a difficult feat considering that Arizona was had not competed the previous day. But on Saturday afternoon, the Cardinal stunned the Wildcats with an almost 30-point victory.
It seemed as if Arizona would gain the upper hand early by touching out Stanford in the first event of the meet, the 400 medley relay, by just over one-tenth of a second. But the Cardinal took control in the next event, finishing 1-2-4 in the 1000 freestyle. The two teams would trade off events until around the halfway point of the meet, at the 50 freestyle, when Stanford took the lead and never looked back. Senior Sam Woodward and sophomore Maya DiRado led the way with each swimmer winning two individual events. Woodward took the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle while DiRado won the 200 individual medley and 200 backstroke—an event where Stanford notched a 1-2-3 sweep over Arizona.
On the men’s side, the No. 3 Cardinal swimmers and divers easily took care of Arizona State on Friday, winning by a lopsided score of 160-71. Stanford dominated in every aspect of the meet, winning all 13 events. The men’s team took a similar approach to the meet as the women’s team by saving its best lineup for a much faster Arizona team the next day. The Cardinal relied on the talented freshman class to do most of the swimming. The strategy clearly worked, as 12 of the 13 event winners were Stanford freshmen.
Stanford faced a tremendously tough turnaround, going from beating a 0-5 Arizona State team on Friday to facing Arizona, the No. 1 team in the nation, on Saturday. The men’s team was unable to duplicate the women’s team’s success in what was otherwise a flawless weekend, narrowly losing to Arizona by a score of 153-145. Things went awry right off the bat when Wildcat relays swam a 1-2 sweep over the Cardinal in the first event of the meet, the 400 medley relay. It also didn’t help that Stanford’s “A” relay team was disqualified.
Senior distance specialist Chad La Tourette was the only double individual event winner for the Cardinal, notching victories in both the 1,000 freestyle and 500 freestyle. In the process, La Tourette extended his undefeated dual-meet streak to 21 events—a streak that dates back to his freshman year. Freshman David Nolan won the 200 freestyle but took second to Arizona’s senior Cory Chitwood by almost one full second in the 200 backstroke. Likewise, senior Bobby Bollier dominated the 200 butterfly but finished third in the shorter 100 butterfly event.
Despite this loss, the Cardinal proved that it will be a national title contender by hanging with the top team in the country. On another positive note, the men’s divers showed their continued dominance on the board. The Cardinal finished 1-2-4 on both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard, with freshman Kristian Ipsen sweeping the two events. The divers helped the team to stay within striking distance of the Wildcats. In fact, with just two events left in the meet, the score was tied at 131 apiece. It wasn’t until the 400 individual medley, the second-to-last event, that Arizona drew the dagger with a 1-2-3 sweep.
The men’s next dual will be on Feb. 3 and 4 at USC, while the women will travel to UCLA and USC on Friday and Saturday.