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UCLA swim and dive finishes top 4 in Pac-12 championships for 3rd straight year

Junior Sophia Kosturos takes a breath in the middle of a race. The UCLA swim and dive swimmer reached the A Final for the first time in her career in the Pac-12 championships in Federal Way, Washington, where the Bruins ultimately finished in fourth place. (Sakshi Joglekar/Assistant Photo editor)

By Sabrina Baker

Feb. 28, 2022 1:41 p.m.

The Bruins placed in the top four at the conference championships for the third consecutive year.

UCLA swim and dive (3-5, 1-5 Pac-12) took home a fourth-place finish at the Pac-12 championships, which was held from Wednesday to Saturday in Federal Way, Washington, for swimming and Tucson for diving. The blue and gold finished behind No. 5 Stanford (7-0, 6-0), No. 8 California (5-2, 5-1) and No. 11 USC (5-2, 4-2) with a final score of 898.0.

While Arizona beat UCLA in a dual meet during the regular season, the Bruins logged 147.5 more points than the fifth-place Wildcats in the championships.

Coach Jordan Wolfrum said she coaches UCLA to be a successful team in the postseason, rather than focusing on winning every dual meet.

“We are better built for conference championships,” Wolfrum said. “The way I run our program, I am more focused on end-of-season conference and NCAA championships, with the conference championships being our biggest focus right now.”

In the diving events, freshman diver Maya Salvitti logged a season-best score of 258.40 in the preliminary round of the 3-meter dive. She also placed sixth in the 1-meter consolation final and 13th in the platform diving consolation final.

Salvitti said she performed the best in the 3-meter diving competition because she was in a good headspace.

“I feel like I attacked every dive (in the 3-meter),” Salvitti said. “Even though I didn’t do as well as I feel like I could have done, I feel like my mental state was the best for that event, so I am happy with how I did.”

Junior diver Hannah Butler placed third in the 1-meter dive finals and freshman diver Zoe Jespersgaard won the 3-meter dive consolation final.

On the other side of the meet, junior swimmer Sophia Kosturos was one of 11 Bruins to reach the A Finals at the championship meet. Kosturos swam a personal-best time in the preliminary rounds of the 100-yard backstroke to reach the A Finals for the first time in her collegiate career.

Kosturos said she was ecstatic to learn she had made it into the A Finals because the two previous seasons she had barely missed the cut.

“Both last year and the year before I placed ninth in prelims,” Kosturos said. “This year, I got to be the one who was in the A Final and score the points for my team as an A finalist. It was just a very happy moment for me.”

Kosturos was also a part of the 400-yard medley relay team that broke the school record with a time of 3:32.53 and earned a fourth-place finish in the event. The relay team consisted of Kosturos, freshman swimmer Eva Carlson, junior swimmer Gabby Dang and senior swimmer Claire Grover.

Kosturos said she felt tired prior to the relay but knew she had to swim the best she could for her team.

“I ended up swimming way faster than I did in my individual final,” Kosturos said. “We were all kind of in shock that we had gone as fast as we did, considering how tired we were and how much all four of us had been swimming.”

The Bruins saw 45 finalists during the meet as well as many season-best and personal-best times and scores.

Wolfrum said the team’s performance was the result of pre-championship meet training but also the way the team approached the competition.

“I saw this team step up and race their faces off for each other,” Wolfrum said. “We knew we were in a team battle. We knew we wanted to beat the Arizonas, and that was really our focus for this whole meet. … That pride carried us to the next level.”

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Sabrina Baker | Sports contributor
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
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