By James Hemker
This past Friday, the No. 1-ranked women’s swimming and diving team (2-0, Pac-12 2-0) overwhelmed Washington State (1-1, 0-1) with an aggregate score of 169-86. The Cardinal placed first in each of the fourteen events.
This win marks the team’s 25th consecutive dual meet victory, and it was characterized by strong performances from several athletes. The seven swimmers with the highest individual scores in the meet were all Cardinal women, demonstrating Stanford’s overwhelming strength across all distances. Sophomore Lauren Pitzer and freshmen Lucie Nordmann and Taylor Ruck each contributed 18 points. Sophomore Grace Zhao and Junior Allie Szekely scored 13 points each. The top seven scorers were rounded out by junior Erin Voss and senior Leah Stevens, who both nabbed 12 points.
Collegiate swimming is scored on individual performance. The top five swimmers in an individual event collecting nine, four, three, two or one points with first place scoring the most. Only the three best swimmers for a team actually earn points. In a relay event, the top three places are scored, and just two relays teams from one school can score. Relay events award first place 11 points, second four points and third two points. In the unique event of a tie, the points are evenly distributed. All of these scores are then added together, and whichever team has the higher score wins. Ties are possible, but very rare.
Pitzer (1:49.31) led a Stanford podium sweep of her first event of the day, the 200-yard free. She led the entire race and beat freshman Morgan Tankersley (1:50.37), who in turn nudged out Voss (1:50.71). In the 500-yard free, Pitzer (4:50.66), who swam as Stanford’s only score-eligible swimmer for the race, claimed the top spot again, smoking the closest Cougar by 15 seconds.
Nordmann also had a standout day, leading the entirety of both her individual races. Her 100-yard backstroke time (55.95) was contested only by Szekely (56.64). Nordmann (56.94) was the only Cardinal who swam the 100-yard butterfly, and she performed well, winning by almost a second.
Ruck was the fastest sprinter in the water on Friday, winning both the 100-yard free (50.86) and the 50-yard free (23.04). Her 50-free time broke the Gibb Pool record in Pullman. Spectators should not be surprised by the dominance the star freshman has shown, as she won two bronze medals during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with Canada’s 4×100 and 4×200 free relay teams.
Szekely and Voss had the most impressive wins of the day. Szekely (4:16.16) had a stellar 400-yard IM race, and in the 200-yard backstroke, Voss (1:56.58) had an equally impressive showing, breaking another pool record. Szekely and Voss now have B-standard qualifying times for their respective races.
In order to swim in an event at the NCAA championship, a swimmer needs to be one of the top national competitors in their event. To determine this, the NCAA announces two qualifying times for each race at the beginning of the season. If a swimmer surpasses the A-standard time, which is much faster than the B-standard time, they are automatically given a spot in the meet. If they beat the B-standard time, their best time of the year is compared with all other B-standard qualifying swimmers. The top swimmers from that pool then fill the rest of the entries for that event.
Stevens and Zhao placed first in races as well. Stevens (10:04.68) conquered the 1000-yard free. Sophomores Katie Glavinovich (10:07.75) and Brooke Forde (10:09.07) made the race another one-two-three finish for the Cardinal. In the 200-yard breaststroke, Zhao (2:16.22) triumphed over three Cougars.
In the remaining events, freshman Zoe Bartel (1:02.46) set a third pool record during the 100-yard breaststroke, and sophomore Hannah Kukurugya (1:59.66) handily won the 200-yard backstroke. The Cardinal women also secured gold in the 200-yard medley relay (1:42.71) and the 400-yard freestyle relay (1:42.71).
Stanford’s next dual meet is on Nov. 9 at Avery Aquatic Center against Texas (0-0, Big-12 0-0). Until then, both the men’s and women’s teams will have their annual Alumni Meet on Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Avery.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.