Saturday, October 21

UCLA swimming and diving competes in Pac-10 Championships

School records and personal best times dropped left and right at the Pac-10 women’s swimming and diving championships in Long Beach this past week, as UCLA ended its conference season on a high note.

Finishing fifth out of the eight Pac-10 swimming schools with 1,015 points is right where UCLA figured to be, behind the Pac-10′s four strong contenders for the NCAA Championships this year. Stanford took home the crown (1, 489 points) and was followed by Cal (1, 341), USC (1, 298.5) and Arizona (1, 223.5).

“I consider (fifth place) really good,” UCLA swim coach Cyndi Gallagher said. “Any one of those teams ““ Arizona, Stanford, Cal, ‘SC ““ all have a chance to win. They all have Olympians, international and American, and they all have a legitimate shot of winning NCAAs.”

“It’s a tough conference, and we really did focus on us,” she added.

Probably the most important result for the Bruins over the four days of the Pac-10 Championships was potentially adding three swimmers to their delegation at the NCAA Championships in three weeks. Freshman Laurence Delisle (200 back), junior Sam Vanden Berge (1,650 free) and junior Alex Sullivan (200 free) all posted NCAA consideration times in their respective events. Consideration times do not guarantee invitation to the championships, but their times rank high enough nationally for them to have the inside track on getting an invite.

Delisle, Vanden Berge and Sullivan join junior Brittany Beauchan, junior Lauren Hall, sophomore Yasi Jahanshahi and sophomore Bianca Casciari as probable NCAA competitors this year.

UCLA’s top finisher over the two days was Beauchan. The junior breaststroker from Hawaii continued her great run by finishing third in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.84) on Friday and fourth in the 200 breaststroke (2:10.53) on Saturday.

Hall also had two phenomenal swims over the course of the meet. She broke her own school records in the 400 individual medley (4:08.71) and 200 individual medley (1:58.90), setting herself up for great performances at NCAAs.

The opening session on Wednesday saw UCLA’s school record in the 800 free relay drop a considerable amount. The team of Sullivan, Hall, Delisle and Casciari swam a fifth-place time of 7:09.60.

“The 800 free was a school record by five seconds,” Gallagher said. “That set a tone for how the meet was going to go. School records, freshman records, we had all of that.”

Going forward, Gallagher said she knows that because her team has gone up against top-shelf competition in conference matchups, they know what to expect at NCAAs.

“I told the kids, you know, you’re going to go to NCAAs, and it’s going to be Pac-10s all over again,” she said. “We get (the top competition) every meet, every opportunity, which means NCAAs is not such a big step.”

Divers compete in Pac-10 Championships

Up in Federal Way, Wash., UCLA’s divers also had a great conference meet. The highlight came on the final day, as junior Karina Silva broke the school record for points on tower and finished second overall, while fellow junior teammate Laura Winn finished right behind her in third.

Silva’s school record point total of 312.70 actually came in the prelims of the tower event. But she dropped off considerably in the finals, scoring 265.70, still good enough for second overall.

Dive coach Tom Stebbins attributed her decreased score to a back issue Silva has been nursing over the past few weeks.

“We had kind of a weird break. It was about an hour, hour and a half in between the prelim and the final,” Stebbins said. “Her back got real tight, which ruined her chance. She didn’t feel good, and she didn’t look sharp.”

Stebbins added that looking ahead to the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in two weeks, he believes his duo on tower can contend for the spots at the NCAA Championships.

“I think there will be two spots (to advance to NCAAs from Zone E) on tower, and I think that my two are as good as anybody.”

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