By James Hemker
Winning eight of the final 14 events, top-ranked Stanford secured its fourth consecutive Pac-12 women’s swimming and diving title on Saturday. The team’s depth allowed it to finish the first two days with a lead despite zero event wins, and the individual performances came through in the second half of the championship.
Without a prominent star like Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel or Ella Eastin to headline the team’s successes, six different swimmers and divers led the Cardinal to victory with seven individual championships.
Junior Brooke Forde paced the team with individual wins on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s evening races opened with the 400-yard IM, where Forde (4:01.53) paced the pool with the best time in the nation. Senior Allie Szekely (4:06.09), junior Hannah Kukurugya (4:08.79) and junior Katie Glavinovich (4:10.85) followed and claimed spots three, four and five, respectively.
In the 200-yard breaststroke the next day, Forde (2:07.35) again headed a strong contingent of Cardinal swimmers. Sophomores Allie Raab (2:07.85) and Zoe Bartel (2:08.01) made it a podium sweep, while junior Grace Zhao (2:10.29) placed seventh.
In the 100-yard breast on Friday, it was Raab (59.35) who took home the gold, and Bartel (59.77) again touched third.
After placing second and third on the 1-meter board Thursday, the Cardinal divers could not be denied their titles the rest of the meet. Sophomore Carolina Sculti (378.55) had the top score on the 3-meter board, and junior Mia Paulsen (311.40) conquered the platform. Behind Paulsen, sophomore Daria Lenz earned silver with a 292.45
Thursday evening ended with Stanford’s sole relay win of the meet. Composed entirely of underclassmen, the team of sophomores Raab, Lucie Nordmann and Anya Goeders, and freshman Emma Wheal touched first (1:37.43) in the 200-yard medley relay.
In the longest event on the heat sheet, the 1,650-yard free, sophomore Morgan Tankersley (15:50.81) emerged with her first Pac-12 title after besting the rest of the field by almost two seconds. Also winning her first conference individual championship was senior Erin Voss, who spearheaded a Cardinal sweep of the 200-yard backstroke. Voss (1:51.37), Nordmann (1:51.63) and freshman Alex Crisera (1:52.21) all finished within a second of each other.
Propelled by the second-half surge of wins, Stanford finished the meet with 1598 points, 373.5 ahead of California’s 1224.5. USC fell narrowly behind Cal with 1212 points. While it is the second-lowest score for Stanford in its four-year run of Pac-12 titles, the margin of victory is the second-highest.
The Cardinal are the only program to win four Pac-12 titles in a row, with the last occurrence being Stanford’s dominant run of 13 titles from 1987-99.
Now the team is focused on the NCAA championships, where it will again be attempting a four-peat. NCAA’s will begin March 18 in Athens, Georgia.
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