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UCLA swim and dive claims victory in first joint dual meet

Lauren Hallaselkä spreads her arms wide in preparation for a dive. The Finnish diver is in her freshman year for UCLA swim and dive. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)

By Felicia Keller

Oct. 28, 2023 4:29 p.m.

The Bruins won 12 events in the first joint dual meet for the swimmers and divers.

UCLA swim and dive (3-0, 1-0 Pac 12) claimed a 167.5-73.5 victory over Illinois (1-2) on Friday afternoon at Spieker Aquatics Center. Following the meet – which put UCLA’s all-time record against Big Ten competition at 5-1 – Illinois chanted “see you next year.”

“This team is training at as high of a level as I’ve seen since I’ve been at UCLA,” said coach Jordan Wolfrum. “I’m really proud of the progress that they’re making and the intensity that they’re training with.”

Ten individuals picked up wins for the Bruins, with the only repeat victors coming in the relays.

One of those winners, freshman Lauren Hallaselkä, took first place in the 1-meter diving event and second in the 3-meter, swapping finishes with junior Zoe Jespersgaard in the two events.

Friday marked the dive team’s first dual meet of the year – as there wasn’t a dive portion against Washington or UC Santa Barbara – and second overall meet following the season-opening Fresno State Invitational three weeks ago.

“It felt good to get all of my dives down,” Hallaselkä said. “Practice was good this week, so I think it reflected whatever I’ve been doing in practice.”

Despite taking place in the same pool, the swimming and diving ends possess different energies, with the platforms and boards side being much quieter.

Hallaselkä said she tries to tune out all of the noise during her dives while still supporting the swim team.

“I like to follow the swimming during the competition not whilst I’m diving, obviously, but around between rounds,” Hallaselkä said.

Reigning Bruin Culture Award winner senior Maddie Wright said the swimmers like to provide equal support for the divers.

“We are swim and dive and so I think it just makes us feel better when we’re all competing on the same day,” Wright said. “It’s definitely a good reminder that if people aren’t swimming, people are diving, so we’re always just trying to work on making sure we’re cheering for each other, so no one feels isolated.”

Wright, who finished in second as the highest scoring Bruin in the 100-yard freestyle, said she’s been working especially on her sprint capabilities recently.

During the moments in sprints where everything starts to burn, she turns to her own strength, she added.

“I really like to focus on my strength and my power,” Wright said. “I know I’m a strong person. So really just trying to use every fiber and really just pull down.”

With a slightly shorter format this week compared to the last few – just 11 swimming events instead of 14 – each Bruin competed in three events, rather than four.

Wolfrum said it changed the strategy of how they use certain swimmers in certain events.

“We had a conversation as a team this morning about getting intensity up being on it, and that the pace of the meet was going to go faster,” Wolfrum said. “They answered the call really well.”

The Bruins placed first and second in nine events on Friday, and with a 94-point victory, this meet marks their largest win of this season and ties last year’s largest margin.

UCLA will wrap up its dual meet schedule for the fall next weekend against Arizona and Arizona State.

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Felicia Keller
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
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