The weather may have been torrential outside the Pac-10 Championships, but UCLA records were falling even faster than the raindrops.
“Everyone had at least one good swim, and some people had really great swims,” swim coach Cyndi Gallagher said. “We broke a lot of school records, and we are just so much deeper, talent-wise, than we’ve ever been before.”
The Bruins posted six new school records on their way to a fourth-place finish, their highest since 2008. Crucial to their success were several outstanding relay performances, which contribute more points to the team score than individual events.
The first night of competition started out strong, with the 800-meter freestyle relay of senior Lauren Hall, senior Alex Sullivan, sophomore Laurence Delisle and freshman Ting Quah picking up 50 points for their fifth-place finish and breaking the school record in the process.
The trend of record-breaking relays continued throughout the meet, as the 400m medley relay team of sophomore Emily Andelson, senior Brittany Beauchan, junior Yasi Jahanshahi and freshman Cynthia Fascella bested the team record by two seconds, while the 400m freestyle relay of Fascella, Hall, Sullivan and freshman Kathryn Murphy broke a record set back in 2004.
“Most people didn’t have their best events until the last day, so the energy really carried through to the end,” Hall said. “We had one last relay to do, the 400 free, and it was between us and the Arizona schools. We were really fired up to beat those teams ““ it was great for us.”
Hall showcased her versatility in the most successful meet of her UCLA career, setting records in both the 200m and 400m individual medley events and competing on the record-breaking 800m and 400m free relay teams. She also achieved an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the B final of the 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:10.15, the second-fastest time in UCLA history.
Hall and breaststroker Brittany Beauchan remain the only two Bruins to make “A”-cuts this season, so the rest of the team must wait until Thursday to find out who has officially qualified for NCAAs.
Although only eight Bruins are expected to qualify, the entire team is committed to supporting the swimmers who do advance.
“Everyone wants a break, but they’re excited to keep training with us and help us get ready to represent UCLA at NCAAs,” Hall said.
Because of differences in qualification processes for the two sports, the dive team will compete at the Zone E Diving Championships for bids to NCAAs. Senior Laura Winn and freshman Paulina Guzman both had strong performances this weekend ““ Winn placed third on platform and Guzman placed fifth on 3-meter ““ and hope to improve on these performances in the upcoming meets.
“This week, we’re going to really turn it up and fight to get those tiny little things we need to change,” diving coach Tom Stebbins said. “If we do that, we’ve really got a chance.”