This past Wednesday through Saturday, the UCLA swim and dive team traveled to Federal Way, Wash., to compete in the Pac-12 championship, where the team got the chance to face off against some familiar faces. While the results may not have been what the team had planned, it left Washington with six new school records as well as setting several other personal bests.
“Pac-12s are really exciting but really intense,” said sophomore diver Annika Lenz. “The competition is really good.”
The competition proved to be stiff indeed as No. 16 UCLA faced several highly ranked teams, such as No. 1 California, No. 3 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona and No. 12 USC. Last year, UCLA finished fourth, edging out Arizona by three points, but this year, the tides have turned. The Bruins were the ones lagging behind by three points this time to finish fifth overall, just behind the Wildcats (954.5), with a score of 951.5.
The four-day meet started off on a high note for the Bruins as they set their first record-breaking time in the meet’s opening race, the 200-yard medley relay. Finishing with a time of 1:37.17, sophomore Madison White, junior Allison Wine, senior Noelle Tarazona and sophomore Linnea Mack broke the record that was set 12 days earlier against USC.
The success continued for the Bruins on Friday, when they captured two more school records. The first came from Wine, who improved on her own record when she swam a 59.46 in the 100-yard breaststroke. This came just two weeks after Wine swam UCLA’s first sub-minute time in this event to break the school’s 17-year-old previous record. Wine’s performance was good enough to get her on the podium with a second-place finish.
The next record set Friday came from another relay, as White, Wine, Tarazona and Mack teamed up again and finished the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:34.54, finishing fourth.
Coach Cyndi Gallagher said she was impressed with the multiple broken relay records and added that the final meets of the season are when the team really starts to show its strength.
“At the end of the season, there (are) more expectations and more perceived pressure,” Gallagher said. “You have to know how to work through that and still swim great, and these girls did.”
Records continued to fall on the last day of competition, when three more races ended in a top-three finish for the Bruins.
Lenz had a strong performance in the platform dive, where she finished third overall with a five-dive score of 323.15. She overcame the previous record of 312.70 set by Karina Silva in 2010.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Tarazona was in fifth place going into the finals, but she swam a season-best time of 1:55.15 in the final round to take second place in her last race of the meet.
The meet’s longest event saw junior Katy Campbell add yet another new school record for UCLA. Campbell finished in third place with a time of 16:00.34 in the 1650-yard freestyle. With that time, Campbell surpassed the record of her current teammate, senior Lauren Baker, who previously swam the race in 16:04.18.
When asked what the key was to her successful performance, Campbell said her teammates played a major role.
“They are always the key,” Campbell said. “They are my motivation in workouts. They’re the ones who push me, they’re the ones who cheer for me.”
That support continued as the teammates were there to cheer each other on down to the the very last race of the meet: the 400-yard freestyle relay. In this race, White, Mack, freshman Katie Grover and senior Monica Dornick, finished the meet as strong as they started, rounding out the Bruins’ six record-setting races with a time of 3:15.94.
The final results may not have been what Gallagher had hoped for, but she said she was happy with what her team accomplished.
“Day in and day out we were solid,” Gallagher said. “Of course we wanted to do a little better in some events, and there were some disappointments, but I’m really proud of how they did and how they competed.”