By James Hemker
Stanford women’s swimming and diving team (1-0, Pac-12 1-0) easily triumphed over Utah (0-1, 0-1) to the tune of 193-99 in Tuesday’s first dual meet of the season.
To no one’s surprise, the Cardinal put on a clinic as they won in every event that had an eligible, scoring swimmer. The freshmen led the charge in their first collegiate meet, picking up six of Stanford’s 13 first-place finishes.
“This class is one of the strongest classes we’ve ever recruited,” head coach Greg Meehan said. “I am excited about the future for them. Not just this year but looking future-forward over their four-year career and how much impact they’re going to have.”
As this was their first collegiate meet, he said, “It’s a Tuesday in October, so we dialed down the emotional investment and focused on the details.” Coach Meehan expects the freshmen to meld with the team culture and rules so that everyone can be ready for the NCAA championship in March.
An all-freshman relay team opened the scoring card for the Cardinal by topping the 200-yard medley relay (1:40.96). Individual races then began with the arduous 1000-yard freestyle. The longest race in the meet was claimed by junior Megan Byrnes (9:52.59). She was followed by freshman Morgan Tankersley (10:06.46) and sophomore Hannah Kukurugya (10:09.69) in second and third, respectively, for Stanford’s first podium sweep of the day.
Following the 1000 free came the faster 200-yard free, which featured another one-two-three finish from sophomore Brooke Forde (1:50.43), junior Katie Drabot (1:52.52) and senior Leah Stevens (1:52.84).
Soon after, freshman Taylor Ruck won her first individual collegiate race in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.09, a second and a half faster than freshman Zoe Bartel (55.65), who took second.
The Cardinal women cruised through the next three events. The 100-yard breaststroke was won by sophomore Grace Zhao (1:02.77), who came back after trailing early. The 200-yard butterfly was conquered by senior Ella Eastin (1:56.53), and the electric 50-yard freestyle was a shootout between freshmen Amalie Fackenthal (23.14) and Lucie Nordmann (23.21).
Swimming then paused while the divers spun, twisted and flipped their way to a podium sweep in 3-meter diving. Junior Haley Farnsworth claimed top spot with a total score of 313.43, and she was followed by freshman Carolina Sculti (299.25) and sophomore Mia Paulsen (272.33).
Swimming resumed to a fourth and final sweep for the Cardinal in the 100-yard freestyle. Sophomore Lauren Pitzer (50.29) collected gold, with Nordmann (50.54) and freshman Anya Goeders (51.97) close in her wake.
The 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard breaststroke were comfortably won by Ruck and freshman Zoe Bartel, respectively. Eastin then placed first in her second and final race of the day, the 500-yard freestyle (4:50.42). Fackenthal closed out the individual races for the Cardinal, winning the 100-yard butterfly (53.46).
Stanford also went on to win the 1-meter diving, 200-yard IM and 200-yard freestyle relay; however, the swimmers and divers were all entered for exhibition times and scores, meaning that they could not place or score points toward the dual meet score.
Afterwards, co-captain Eastin said, “Our team managed well, especially coming straight from class and getting done what we needed to do.” After coming off of a stellar junior year, she believes her priority is “to be a good leader for this team as one of three co-captains.” She then added, “Contributing to the team is always going to be my goal, as well as trying to do the best I can do add to our success.”
The team will head to Pullman to take on Washington State (1-0, 0-0) on Friday at 2 p.m.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu