Thursday, November 22

Swim and dive honors senior teammates whose careers draw to a close


The seniors of UCLA swimming and diving have consistently finished in scoring position this season. The Bruins honored their seniors at the beginning of their last meet of the season Friday. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin)

The seniors of UCLA swimming and diving have consistently finished in scoring position this season. The Bruins honored their seniors at the beginning of their last meet of the season Friday. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin)


The Bruins have been led by their seniors throughout the season, and they honored those seniors during Friday’s meet.

UCLA swimming and diving (5-5-1, 2-4-1 Pac-12) tied with No. 13 USC (6-2-1, 3-2-1) this past weekend, 150-150.

As this was the last home meet of the season and therefore Senior Day, the team saw family and friends gather at Spieker Aquatics Center. They cheered on their seniors, nine swimmers and one diver, in the culmination of their careers at UCLA.

“I think it’s great for the parents and families to always be able to watch their kids and see them work, and I think our kids are comforted by having those people that are close to them in their lives here,” said diving coach Tom Stebbins.

Before the meet started, the team held a ceremony in which the seniors were each presented with a block from legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden’s pyramid of success. Each senior’s block was chosen by their teammates as one that represented aspects of their character, such as initiative, intentness, confidence and competitive greatness.

During the meet, the seniors exhibited winning performances and led the team to a tie with their rivals from USC.

Senior swimmer Margaux Verger Gourson came from behind in both of her races, finishing in second place in the 1650-yard freestyle and taking the win in the 500-yard freestyle. Senior swimmer Katie Grover finished second in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles, as well as in the 100-yard butterfly. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the UCLA A-team, which included Grover and fellow senior Sarah Kaunitz, broke the school and meet record for that event to clinch the tie.

All season, the seniors have been the backbone of the team, coach Cyndi Gallagher has said.

Senior diver Ciara Monahan has consistently taken top-three finishes in both 1-meter and 3-meter, including a first-place finish on the 1-meter in a meet against No. 3 Stanford on Jan. 26. On the swimming side, Grover has often placed in the top-three positions in her races this season, and Verger Gourson returned halfway through the season from a back injury and has been placing high since then. But beyond just winning races, Gallagher said the seniors have been crucial in mentoring and leading the team.

“The seniors are our leaders,” Gallagher said. “They have been all year, and obviously they’re doing a good job.”

Going into the Pac-12 competition in two weeks, the experience of these veterans will be essential in helping the younger teammates adjust to the higher level of competition. For now, Monahan said she is just thinking about working to prepare for Pac-12s as best she can, while enjoying the rest of her time with her teammates.

“Today I was just feeling really grateful that I was able to be a part of the Bruin family for four years,” Monahan said.

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