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UCLA swim and dive kicks off 2024 with 2nd place finish at UCSD-Wisconsin tri-meet

Graduate student Brooke Schaffer reaches up and out of the water during a freestyle stroke for UCLA swim and dive. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Aaron Doyle

Jan. 7, 2024 4:11 p.m.

The Bruins returned to action following a seven-week break from competition.

No. 25 UCLA swim and dive (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) claimed second place Saturday afternoon in a tri-meet against UC San Diego (1-1, 1-0 MPSF) and No. 13 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten). The Bruins notched 17 podium appearances and three first-place finishes in the year’s first meet.

The Bruins kickstarted the day by claiming the top two spots in the 50-yard breaststroke. Junior Ana Jih-Schiff narrowly out-touched freshman Sarah Bennetts, recording times of 29.01 and 29.39, respectively. The duo also topped the podium in the 100-yard breaststroke, with Jih-Schiff taking first and Bennetts behind her in second place. The results marked the fifth race this season that Jih-Schiff and Bennetts have gone 1-2 in breaststroke events.

Coach Jordan Wolfrum said Jih-Schiff’s breaststroke performance was impressive.

“Her breaststroke was the fastest she’s ever been,” Wolfrum said. “It was a really strong day.”

Jih-Schiff racked up four podium finishes, more than any other Bruin at the meet. In the 100-yard individual medley, the junior was out-touched by Badger Phoebe Bacon, a 2020 Olympian and 2022 FINA World Championships silver medalist in the 200-meter backstroke.

“I think she (Jih-Schiff) came out with a lot of really good confidence,” Wolfrum said. “To compete up against some of the best in the country, it’s definitely good building blocks.”

After a breakout meet at the U.S. Open in December, where she broke the school record in the 50-meter freestyle, graduate student Brooke Schaffer chalked up two top-three finishes in the 100-yard and 50-yard freestyles, placing second and third, respectively.

“This year, she’s really leveled up,” Wolfrum said. “She’s gone into this year free and open, and excited to get a COVID year and see what she can do with it.”

The Bruins also earned top-three finishes in the butterfly events. Junior Joanie Cash and graduate student Aislinn Walsh took second and third place in the 100-yard butterfly, respectively. Cash placed second in the 50-yard butterfly with a 24.87 clip.

In the final event for the Bruins, senior Maya Wilson, junior Gizem Guvenc, Bennetts and Schaffer took second place in the 400-yard freestyle relay, falling short of victory by 4.04 seconds.

Looking forward, Wolfrum said the team is committed to tackling challenges one step at a time.

“Our team is really focused, they’re really dialed in, and ready to perform at a high level,” Wolfrum said. “We had a big meeting yesterday, talking about all of those pieces.”

UCLA is gearing up to compete in the Bruin Diving Invitational next weekend and a home meet against Utah on Saturday.

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Aaron Doyle
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