By Kit Ramgopal
The undefeated No. 2 Stanford women’s swim and dive program notched two more victories on its SoCal trip this past weekend, beating No. 19 UCLA 189-118 on Friday and rallying from behind to top No. 7 USC 152-148 on Saturday, cementing a 20-year winning streak against the Trojans.
On Friday, four Cardinal swimmers claimed dual individual titles. Standout junior Lia Neal won both sprint freestyle events with a 22.28 in the 50-yard race and 49.26 in the 100-yard race. Sophomore Ally Howe narrowly out-touched USC’s strongest butterfly racer, Katie Grover, by a margin of 0.7 seconds in the 200 fly (1:59:02) and by a margin of .3 seconds in the 100 fly (54.54).
Freshman Ella Eastin continued her breakout season to claim the 200 freestyle (1:48:42) and the 200 individual medley (1:55:00), while sophomore Janet Hu, who is coming off of four first-place finishes last weekend against Arizona, won the 100 backstroke in 52.69 and 200 backstroke in 1:55:06.
Junior Tara Halsted and freshman Leah Stevens rounded out individual victories in the distance events, with Halstead claiming the 1000 free in 10:03:31 minutes and Stevens claiming the 500 free in 4:55:55 minutes. Victories in the 200 medley relay (1:42:18) and 200 freestyle relay (1:30:97) cemented Stanford’s insurmountable margin of victory.
However, Saturday’s meet against No. 7 USC kept spectators on the edges of their seats, with Stanford swimmers battling at top speeds. Despite an early lead by USC, Stanford came back to win by four points, the result of a second-place finish in the 400 yard freestyle relay, handing USC swimmers their first loss of the season.
“I think having to compete coming off of racing last weekend against the Arizona schools, with four meets in eight days, was a lot for us. But we did a really good job being resilient,” said head coach Greg Meehan after Saturday’s meet. “It was good for us to have to deal with USC’s lead and work through some adversity.”
The power team of senior Sarah Haase, Howe, Hu and Neal opened the meet with a win in the 200 medley relay. Neal had another double freestyle victory, this time in the 200 free (1:45:87) and the 100 free (48:36). Eastin also continued to be an integral part of the Cardinal team by winning the 200 fly (1:56:39) and claiming a crucial first-place finish in the last individual event of the day, the 200 individual medley (1:58:30), propelling Stanford into the last relay. Hu won the 200 back (1:54.62) and the 100 fly (53.55), while Haase took first place in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:12:25.
Stanford’s victory can also be attributed in large part to senior Alex Clay’s performance on the diving board. Clay swept both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events with respective scores of 300.38 and 315.45 to earn the team 18 points.
“This is probably the most fun group I’ve had the opportunity to coach. They just get along really well and really support each other,” Meehan said. “There’s a certain level of toughness there.”
Stanford women’s swim and dive show no signs of slowing down as they look forward to their last dual meet against rival No. 3 Cal at home on Feb. 13.
Contact Kit Ramgopal at kramgopa ‘at’ stanford.edu.