By Kit Ramgopal
Last weekend at the Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center, Stanford swimming set the tone for 2016 with overwhelming victories against both the Arizona State Sun Devils on Jan. 22 and the Arizona Wildcats on Jan. 23.
No. 5 Stanford men’s swimming beat Arizona State by a margin of 157-83 and No. 15 Arizona by a margin of 173-118. On Friday, Liam Egan led freestylers to claim victory in the 500 freestyle (4:27.12) and also led a Cardinal sweep of the 200 freestyle (1:38.33), with Max Williamson (1:39.24) and Jimmy Yoder (1:39.89) following closely behind.
Freshman Matt Anderson also impressed in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:59.12, breaking two minutes for his second time this season. Abrahm DeVine, Curtis Ogren and Jack Walsh claimed the podium in 400 individual medley, complimenting Cardinal wins in both the 400 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
On Saturday, Stanford men embarrassed Arizona by sweeping the entire podium in 200-yard individual medley, the 200 backstroke, the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke, while also claiming first and second in the 500 freestyle, the 200 freestyle, the 100 freestyle, the 50 freestyle, the 200 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke. Standout performances among these victories were Sam Perry, Egan, Sean Duggan, Ryan Dudzinski, Patrick Conaton, Max Williamson and Matt Anderson.
“All in all, I was happy with how our guys swam not only their main event but also their second or third events,” head coach Tedd Knapp said. “We have a very balanced team and hopefully we’ll have that type of depth through Pac-12s.”
Stanford women’s swimming also earned resounding victories over both the Sun Devils (173-63) and the Wildcats (181-114), which bumped the team to No. 2 in the national rankings. On Friday, freshman Ella Eastin was the clear standout, posting wins in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:09.01 and the 500 freestyle with a 13-second margin of victory and a 4:48.92 time, her season best.
“I think I’m in a really good spot,” Eastin told Pac-12 Networks. “I need to take that and use it as confidence.”
Senior Allison Brown posted a season best in the 1000 freestyle with 9:57.41, while junior Lia Neal won the 50 freestyle hitting the wall at 22.83 seconds to narrowly beat out sophomore Janet Hu. Hu was the first of three Cardinal swimmers to make the podium for the 100 freestyle with a 50.2. Stanford took home both relays to cement victory.
“They all did a really good job of staying focused, being supportive of each other and racing hard today,” head coach Greg Meehan said. “I think that showed today.”
On Saturday, against No. 7 Arizona, Stanford women won all but one event. Hu demonstrated her impressive depth in the pool to win three individual titles in the 50 freestyle (23.18), 200 backstroke (1:55.46) and 100 butterfly (53.15) while also contributing to the 200 medley relay team’s first place finish.
Senior Sarah Haase, also a member of the first place medley relay team, continued her strong season to win the 100 breaststroke (1:01.06) and the 200 breaststroke (2:14.10). Other notable victories included sophomore Ally Howe in the 100 backstroke with a 53.60, Neal in both the 200 freestyle (1:46.90) and 100 freestyle (49.17) and freshman Leah Stevens in the 1000 free with a time of 10:00.00 on the dot.
The Stanford women’s team is swimming south for the weekend, taking on No. 18 UCLA on Friday at 2 p.m. on Pac-12 Network and No. 5 USC on Saturday at noon. Last year, Stanford women beat UCLA 151-92. This season, veteran swimmers Lia Neal and Ally Howe, who lead the team to win multiple events last time, show no signs of slowing down, especially with the added dynamism of upcoming swimmers like Eastin and Stevens to round out the team.
The Cardinal admittedly face a greater challenge against No. 5 USC, whom they will take on on Saturday. However, despite the Trojans’s single-digit NCAA ranking, USC has not beaten Stanford women in swimming since 1996. Last year, Stanford women posted a 182-110 victory, claiming 13 of the 16 events.
Contact Kit Ramgopal at kramgopa ‘at’ stanford.edu.