By James Hemker
After phenomenal showings at the Pac-12 conference championship and the NCAA championship, freshman Taylor Ruck was named the Pac-12 Swimming Freshman of the Year, and classmate Carolina Sculti was tabbed for the Pac-12 Diving Freshman of the Year.
This marks the second time in three years that the Cardinal have swept the conference freshman awards. These honors are indicative of the power of the freshman class, which was instrumental in securing Stanford’s third consecutive national title.
Ruck is the fifth consecutive Stanford woman to win the award, and eighth all-time. The previous four winners were Simone Manuel (2015), Ella Eastin (2016), Katie Ledecky (2017) and Brooke Forde (2018).
After a single season on the Farm, Ruck has already cemented herself as one of the fastest swimmers to don the Cardinal cap. She is the school record holder for the 200-yard backstroke (1:47.53), and she holds the second-fastest 100 free (46.76) and 200 free (1:40.37) times in school history. Ruck also has the third-fastest 100 back time (50.34) and fourth-fastest 50 free time (21.73).
“Taylor had an incredible freshman year,” said swimming head coach Greg Meehan. “She just continued to get better as the year went on. She was phenomenal at NCAAs in her individual events, but her relay swims are what really stood out.”
At NCAA’s Ruck was awarded the maximum seven All-America honors. She earned podium places in all three of her individual events, taking second in the 200 back and 200 free, while she earned bronze in the 100 back. Ruck helped the 800 free relay team win the title. She was a leg in the 200 and 400 free relays, as well as the 400 medley relay, which all finished in the top eight as well.
Sculti is the school’s sixth freshman diver award winner, and the first since junior Haley Farnsworth won in 2017.
“Carolina came through in many big moments this year because the diving skills she came to Stanford with were ready to build on,” said head diving coach Patrick Jeffrey. “She really worked hard on bringing up her consistency and she quickly acquired a platform list through dedication and applying her existing skills in a new way.”
At the end of season championships, Sculti excelled with podium finishes in the one-meter and three-meter events at Pac-12’s. She qualified for a spot in all three diving events at NCAAs, where she garnered two All-American honors. She earned a 12th-place finish on the one-meter board and a 14th-place finish as the only Cardinal in the three-meter event.
Sculti and Ruck are representative of a new wave of powerful Cardinal swimmers and divers that will continue to cement Stanford’s position at the top of the country in the coming years.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford .edu