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UCLA’s undefeated swim and dive team thrives as athletes score personal bests

Freshman Claire Grover secured wins in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke in the Bruins’ victory over Arizona State on Saturday. Grover also took home a win in the 100 breaststroke on Friday against Arizona. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

By Claire Britton

Nov. 4, 2018 3:47 p.m.

The Bruins are undefeated to start the season for the first time since 2014.

No. UCLA swimming and diving (3-0 Pac-12) recorded a win against No. 25 Arizona (2-1) with a score of 156-144 and another win against Arizona State with a score of 160-140 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both meets were swam at Spieker Aquatics Center for the first time this season.

Redshirt senior diver Maria Polyakova, a native of Moscow, Russia, led the Bruins with a record-breaking win on the 1-meter on Saturday.

“I thought she was much, much better at just letting the work that we have been doing come out of her instead of her trying to make it happen,” said diving coach Tom Stebbins. “(That win) for her on 1-meter is pretty significant, that’s about as well as she has ever dived in that event.”

Polyakova’s score of 355.50 in the 1-meter on Saturday passed her previously held record of 339.05 and clinched the Bruins’ win over the Sun Devils. On Friday, Polyakova also clinched first in the 1-meter with a score of 310.88 and second in the 3-meter, scoring 265.28.

Senior diver Traci Shiver also shattered her previous personal bests in the 1-meter and 3-meter with scores of 254.1 and 270.23, respectively.

On the swimming side, junior Maisie Jameson came out with her first-ever win in the 50-meter freestyle after being injured both freshman and sophomore year.

“That was a highlight (of the meet),” said swimming coach Cyndi Gallagher. “Everyone was super happy about her winning, that was a big one for her.”

Friday’s meet against the Wildcats came down to the very last event of the day – the 400-meter freestyle relay. The team of junior Kenisha Liu, freshman Claire Grover, junior Amy Okada and freshman Ella Kirschke clinched the win, beating the Wildcats’ team by three seconds.

Okada won her first 200-meter fly butterfly of the afternoon against Arizona with a time of 1:59.70, being one of the only swimmers to beat the two-minute mark. In the meet against ASU, Okada walked away with wins in the 200-meter butterfly and 100-meter butterfly.

“Amy Okada swam with a lot of confidence,” Gallagher said. “It was really good to see.”

In her first meet at home, Grover walked away with a win in the 100-meter breaststroke Friday and two more wins in the 100-meter breaststroke and 100-meter butterfly. However, Grover said that there is still technique to be worked on.

“I want to work on my turns for my (50-freestyle),” Grover said. “Technique in general is really key to work on.”

Gallagher said that there is also work the Bruins have to do before facing two more teams next weekend.

“Pac-12 is a three-day meet, this was just a two-day meet,” Gallagher said. “They just can’t mentally let go, these teams will come back on us.”

The Bruins will host UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego at Spieker Aquatics Center on Saturday, while the diving team will head to USC for the Trojan Diving Invitational from Friday through Sunday.

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Claire Britton | Alumna
Britton joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2017 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the swim & dive, women's water polo and men's water polo beats.
Britton joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2017 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the swim & dive, women's water polo and men's water polo beats.
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