By James Hemker
The Stanford women’s swimming and diving team return home after a successful two-win campaign in the desert. The No. 3 Cardinal (4-0, Pac-12 4-0) dispatched the University of Arizona (3-4, 2-4) 195-99 on Friday. The next day, Arizona State (2-4, 2-3) was trounced 198-96. Two events into Saturday’s meet, the ASU commentator shrewdly observed that for the Sun Devils, “It’s not about the points, it’s about having fun.”
Stanford’s victories came on the backs of its freshmen. Zoe Bartel won four events during the two meets; Taylor Ruck secured three of her own; Lucie Nordmann and Amalie Fackenthal each had a pair of wins.
“It’s a really strong class and they are quick learners. They have really made some strides in the last two months,” said head coach Greg Meehan. “I think their success is a good byproduct of the work they have done in training over the season as well.”
Bartel opened her weekend with a win in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:02.02) and the 200-yard IM (2:02.75) against a field of Wildcats. On Saturday, Bartel repeated her 100-yard breaststroke victory (1:01.53), this time at the head of a Stanford sweep. Her final win of the meet came six events later in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:12.76), where she smoked the nearest Sun Devil by four seconds.
Ruck, who was given a large share of relay duties, did not see much individual action until Saturday, when she proved her endurance by swimming, and winning, three races in eight events. The young Cardinal (1:45.09) edged out senior Ella Eastin (1:45.41) in the 200-yard free, as two more Cardinal swimmers completed the sweep.
Ruck (22.65) led another four-person sweep in the 50-yard free sprint. Finally, in the 200-yard backstroke, Ruck paced the all-Sun Devil field by more than seven seconds in her 1:53.06 finish.
Fackenthal was the only Stanford swimmer to place for Friday’s 50 free, winning with a time of 22.78. She also picked up a win in the 100-yard fly (53.83) against the Sun Devils. Nordmann (1:47.07) spearheaded a sweep of the 200-yard free against Arizona, and she secured the 100-backstroke (53.30) for Stanford against Arizona State.
Freshman diver Carolina Sculti also won the three-meter diving (356.70) against the Sun Devils and claimed silver in the one-meter (277.65) against Arizona. Classmate Daria Lenz followed with another silver medal in the three-meter (336.38) against the Wildcats. Junior Haley Farnsworth rounded out the diving events with a one-meter win (299.03) on Saturday.
In addition to stellar freshmen performances, established senior captain Ella Eastin took three gold medals of her own. Sophomore Brooke Forde added four more individual victories to the team’s total.
Forde won the first individual event of the weekend, the marathon 1000-yard free, stopping the clock at 9:46.44, 22 seconds ahead of the nearest Wildcat. Forde (1:56.14) then claimed the 200-yard butterfly for herself later that day. She returned the following afternoon to post wins in the 500-yard free (4:43.71) and the 400-yard IM (4:04.46), the latter a time that would have defeated the ASU men.
Eastin touched first in the 500-yard free (4:46.04) against Arizona. Three Cardinal swimmers trailed in her wake during the 100-yard backstroke (52.85), providing Stanford with another sweep against the Wildcats. Her final victory of the weekend came against ASU in the 200-yard butterfly, where her time of 1:53.62 was tenths of a second off of the NCAA ‘A’ qualifying time.
The 10-time national champion has been one of the team’s most high performing swimmers, and this year she is one of three senior leaders. Meehan said, “As a senior she’s had an incredible year of training, and she sets a great example of how to be consistent and how to perform really well in these tough environments. She sets a really good bar for the rest of our crew in a lot of different ways.”
Junior Megan Byrnes notably claimed first in the 1000-yard free (9:45.30) against ASU’s top swimmer, Olympic gold-medalist Cierra Runge (9:54.98).
Against Arizona, sophomore Lauren Pitzer (49.91) edged out junior Katie Drabot (50.11) in the 100-yard free. Drabot went on to win the 100-yard butterfly (52.94) later that meet. Juniors Erin Voss and Allie Szekely also claimed wins against Arizona. Voss secured the 200-yard backstroke (1:54.96) and Szekely was at the head of a sweep in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:11.35).
The most exciting events for swimmers and spectators alike were the relays. The weekend started with the 200-yard medley relay, which was won by Eastin, sophomore Grace Zhao, Fackenthal and Pitzer (1:38.71). Against the Sun Devils, the same race was completed by a different lineup of Eastin, senior Kim Williams, Fackenthal and freshman Anya Goeders (1:39.80).
The Arizona meet closed after the 200-yard free relay, where the ‘A’ relay team of Fackenthal, Pitzer, Ruck and sophomore Ashley Volpenhein cruised to a 1:30.68 finish. The weekend ended after Ruck, Drabot, Volpenhein and Voss (3:18.12) smashed the Sun Devils ‘A’ team by almost seven seconds.
Stanford extends their streak of dual meet wins to 27 consecutive victories, with 25 of them being Pac-12 conference wins. The team has also not lost a swimming event with an eligible Stanford swimmer all season.
Looking ahead to the coming weekend, coach Meehan is confident that the team will improve on their times. After the meets he said, “I was impressed with how well they held up from yesterday to today. We haven’t raced in so long I thought they would have some race fatigue today, but they didn’t and in some cases they were better today than they were yesterday.”
He said, “I think that puts them in a good spot to handle back to back racing again next weekend.”
The Cardinal will have both remaining home meets of the season this week, hosting UCLA on Friday and then Senior Day with USC on Saturday.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu