UCLA swim and dive needed to perform better than it did at UC Santa Barbara last weekend in order to win the Bruins’ home opener.
“I thought they responded really well to the tough meet we had against (UC) Santa Barbara,” said coach Cyndi Gallagher. “No one likes to lose, but if you can learn good lessons along the way then you never really lose because you keep learning.”
UCLA (4-1, 1-0 Pac-12) hosted Arkansas (4-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), Washington State (2-3, 0-3 Pac-12) and UC Davis (2-4) for a quad meet Saturday. The Bruins won all three dual match-ups.
“It was a great first home meet to have. Arkansas, all three (teams) had great swims, they pushed us,” Gallagher said. “We wouldn’t have been good if they hadn’t pushed us.”
UCLA relays came in first and third in the 200-yard medley relay, and the Bruins won nine of 12 individual events.
Each of the three swimmers who competed on behalf of the Pac-12 in the USA Swimming College Challenge – senior Katie Grover, junior Sandra Soe and sophomore Kenisha Liu – won two events.
“The three people that went to the Pac-12 meet – they swam great,” Gallagher said. “They’ve really gotten a lot of confidence from that experience.”
Junior Emma Schanz won the 100-yard back and 200-yard individual medley, and senior Sarah Kaunitz won the 100-yard breaststroke to round out the Bruins’ top finishers.
Gallagher said she thought her team wasn’t prepared enough going into the previous weekend’s meet, so the week leading up to this meet she had her team train even harder.
“We approached this meet a lot differently and (UCLA’s swimmers) trained really hard,” Gallagher said. “We talked about what types of changes we needed to make – physically, mentally and emotionally. I was really happy and proud of them for stepping up and making those changes.”
Schanz, Liu and Grover each won events by less than half a second. Going into the weekend, Gallagher had said that finishing was a big focus for the team.
This meet was also the first meet for the entire dive team. Senior Ciara Monahan competed at the Southern Methodist University Classic, but for everyone else it was the first time competing this season.
“Obviously there’s a whole lot of work to do. What we talked about going into this weekend was really to be composed,” said dive coach Tom Stebbins. “I think we were successful in that and I’m pleased overall with the results.”
UCLA had three divers in the top five in the 1-meter competition – Monahan, junior Eloise Belanger and freshman Alice Yanovsky – with scores of 303.20, 258.60 and 254.30, respectively.
Arkansas diver Brooke Schultz, who finished second at the 2017 World University Games, won each diving competition by over 20 points and set a pool record.
The same three Bruins placed third through fifth in the 3-meter contest. Monahan scored 291.95 to lead the team.
Stebbins said he thought Grover made a lot of improvements from her first outing and that if she had dove like this at the SMU Classic she would have won instead of placing third in both events.