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UCLA swim and dive reflects on Claire Grover’s decision to return for 5th season

Senior swimmer Claire Grover smiles in the pool. Grover is returning for her fifth collegiate season for the 2022-2023 campaign. (Megan Cai/Daily Bruin)

By Kyle Boal

April 12, 2022 4:20 p.m.

After four years with the Bruins, Claire Grover has compiled record-breaking statistics.

The senior swimmer for UCLA swim and dive was a member of the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay teams that set program records. The 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier also holds the program’s fastest time for a freshman in three events.

But even after leading the Bruins in individual event wins over the last four years, Grover said there’s still more to accomplish.

“I’m just hungry for more,” Grover said. “I feel like my time swimming here is not done.”

Grover announced on April 5 that she will be returning for her fifth season with UCLA, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to all student-athletes because of the pandemic.

Coach Jordan Wolfrum wrote in a statement provided to The Bruin that she is excited for the senior to come back to the team for another year.

“We are thrilled to be returning Claire for a fifth season – she’s been an invaluable asset to our relays and has been a major impact to our Pac-12 and NCAA scoring,” Wolfrum said. “I know she has some unfinished business at the conference and NCAA level and I’m looking forward to seeing her continue to chase her goals with UCLA on her cap.”

After the Bruins took first place at the UNLV Invitational in December, Grover said she began thinking of returning. Competing for the second time after recovering from hip surgery in August and dealing with personal hardship in November, she earned first-place finishes in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.

As Grover continued to earn wins throughout the season, she said the decision to return to Westwood became clearer.

“I really want another year to keep cultivating relationships and get better at swimming because I do want to go professional after my time here,” Grover said. “This way, I have more time to keep getting stronger now that I’m healthy again, and just keep swimming with UCLA for another year because I genuinely love it so much.”

Expecting to be healthy during the offseason this year, Grover said she will be able to train in the pool and get stronger in the weight room to reach the goals she set for herself.

Freshman swimmer Eva Carlson said she looks forward to sharing moments in and out of the pool with Grover for one more season.

“Since I got here, she’s helped with the transition of moving from home, and then from a swimming performance standpoint, she’s always really motivational,” Carlson said. “She just always has a good attitude, which I think spreads to the other teammates as well.”

As a junior, Grover secured a personal-best time in the anchor leg of the final race of UCLA’s dual meet against USC, the 400-yard freestyle relay, to overcome a quarter-second deficit and defeat the Trojans in a dual meet for the first time since 2007.

At the preliminaries of the 2022 NCAA 50-yard freestyle, Grover recorded a personal-best 21.82 seconds to claim the second-fastest time in the event in school history and garner her second All-American title.

Reflecting on her time at UCLA, the four-time NCAA qualifier said her experiences as a student-athlete have been meaningful in both her personal and athletic development.

“I was able to grow and evolve as a person and an athlete into the person that I am today,” Grover said. “Every single practice are such meaningful things that are a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can never get anywhere else.”

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Kyle Boal | Sports senior staff
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women's water polo beat. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women's water polo beat. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
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