By James Hemker
The top-ranked women’s swimming and diving team entered Friday with a 130-point lead in the Pac-12 Championships, and they closed Friday with a 190-point lead. In the heart of the meet, swimmers and divers competed across six individual events and one relay.
The morning started as strong as the Cardinal could have hoped, with a sweep in the 400-yard IM prelims. Sophomore Brooke Forde (4:03.36) touched first, while senior Ella Eastin (4:03.87) and junior Allie Szekely (4:05.93) followed in her wake. Senior Leah Stevens (4:09.36) finished in sixth, and sophomore Hannah Kukurugya (4:11.32) touched seventh.
The 400 IM finals proved to be Stanford’s most dominant race thus far, with the Cardinal claiming five of the top six spots. Predictably, Eastin (3:57.75) won her second individual conference title of the weekend while Forde (4:00.27) claimed silver. A single Golden Bear snuck into third before Szekely (4:06.63), Stevens (4:08.31) and Kukurugya (4:08.53) all finished.
Freshman Amalie Fackenthal was the only swimmer entered in the 100-yard fly for Stanford. In prelims, the young Cardinal (52.62) was edged out of eighth place by one one-hundredth of a second. Fackenthal (52.82) finished the B finals in fourth place, giving her the 12th-fastest time overall.
The 200-yard freestyle prelims saw three more top-eight finishes from sophomore Lauren Pitzer (1:43.99) in fourth, freshman Morgan Tankersley (1:44.59) in sixth and junior Katie Drabot (1:44.83) in seventh.
The girls were unable to spoil a 1-2-3 Cal sweep in the 200 free finals, as Pitzer (1:43.50) trailed third place by a quarter of a second. Tankersley (1:44.29) finished just after Pitzer, and Drabot (1:45.16) took seventh overall.
Similar to the 200 free prelims, the 100-yard breaststroke morning races ended with three more Cardinal finalists. Freshman Allie Raab (59.89) claimed third while classmate Zoe Bartel (1:00.07) took seventh. Sophomore Grace Zhao (1:00.29) rounded out the top eight.
Back in the pool for the finals, Raab stopped the clock at 59.60, which was good enough for fifth place. Bartel (59.92) went sub-60 seconds for the first time this season, nabbing seventh place. Zhao (1:00.23) finished eighth on her season best.
The 100-yard backstroke was a strictly Bay Area affair, as Stanford and Cal accounted for the top six morning swims. Freshman Taylor Ruck (51.61) touched the wall second while classmate Lucie Nordmann (52.11) and junior Erin Voss (52.18) had a bang-bang finish for fifth and sixth.
Mirroring the morning, the Bay schools combined for the top six times in the 100 back finals. Ruck (50.52) came off a great final turn but was out-touched for first by six one-hundredths of a second. Nordmann (51.47) and Voss (52.07) both improved on their morning times to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Like Thursday, Stanford was able to overload the boards with three divers in the top eight for the three-meter springboard. For the second consecutive day, Sculti ended her night on the podium. Her score of 346.45 was just 4.25 points shy of the gold medal. Farnsworth’s (316.30) fifth-place finish was the best Pac-12 finish of her career. Paulsen (243.80) contributed points as well from eighth place.
The 400-yard medley relay ended Friday night. The Cardinal (3:31.04) were bumped from their usual silver-medal finish by USC, settling for the bronze. Despite the lower place, the team of Eastin, Raab, Fackenthal and Pitzer dropped more than a second off their seed time, which gave them an NCAA A-cut.
The day ended with Stanford having extended its lead over Cal by just a bit more. The Cardinal performances totaled 1154.5 points, compared to the Golden Bears’ 964.5 points. The final day of competition continues today with prelims at 10:30 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.