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UCLA swim and dive narrowly falls to top-5 competitors Stanford, Cal

Graduate student Brooke Schaffer stretches her arm up through the air for a freestyle stroke. Schaffer won both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle on Friday against Stanford. (Michael Gallagher/Daily Bruin)

Swim and Dive

No. 4 Stanford127
No. 5 California155

By Aaron Doyle

Feb. 4, 2024 12:09 p.m.

Heading into Saturday’s final event, the score was tied. With one event to go, the score was tied 132-132.

Just the day before, the Bruins found themselves in a similar situation. Up against a top-five team, unranked UCLA was toe-to-toe with a Pac-12 rival.

“Whatever happens, go down swingin’,” said coach Jordan Wolfrum. “That was the job.”

Despite going down to the wire, UCLA swim and dive (5-3, 3-3 Pac-12) fell to both No. 4 Stanford (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 California (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) on Friday and Saturday, respectively. While the swimmers were busy at Spieker Aquatics Center, the divers competed at a quad meet against Cal, Stanford and No. 7 USC (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12), which was later factored into dual meet scores.

Wolfrum said facing the tough competition of ranked programs builds confidence going into the back end of the season.

“Our expectation always going these meets is to be as competitively excellent as we can be,” Wolfrum said.

The Bruins ultimately fell short in the finals standings against the then-undefeated Cardinal, losing 127-111 but taking home six of 13 titles in the process.

UCLA started off by claiming a top spot on the podium in the 200-yard medley relay. Graduate student Brooke Schaffer, sophomore Fay Lustria and juniors Eva Carlson and Joanie Cash contributed to the 1:39.55 effort, out-touching the Cardinal by less than a second.

Schaffer recorded two individual event wins in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles. The Mountain View local had a strong finish in the shortest event on the day, where she won by 0.28.

In the 100-yard butterfly, graduate student Aislinn Walsh won the event with a 54.35, with Cash claiming second just behind her.

On the diving side, sophomore Eden Cheng, junior Zoe Jespersgaard and graduate student Savana Trueb found success in the diving events Friday and Saturday.

Cheng topped the podium in the 1-meter, with Trueb and Jespersgaard finishing behind her in third and fourth, respectively. In the 3-meter, Jespersgaard notched the highest finish for the Bruins, taking second behind USC’s Nike Agunbiade. Cheng took third, and Trueb finished outside the podium, taking seventh. The divers’ performances contributed a total of 31 points to the Bruins’ meet against the Golden Bears and 32 points against the Cardinal.

On Saturday, the Bruins kicked off the day, taking first and second place in the 400-yard medley relay. Freshman Sarah Bennetts, sophomore Rosie Murphy, Cash and Carlson topped the podium, out-touching the A squad by just 0.24 seconds.

Junior Paige MacEachern and sophomore Ashley Kolessar each claimed a title in the distance races, winning the 500-yard and 1000-yard freestyles, respectively. The duo each also notched a pair of podium-place finishes in those same events.

“Coming off the 1000, I knew that I had to fight a little more than I probably wanted to,” MacEachern said. “I was proud of myself for staying in the race and finding that gear change to bring it on and beat the girl next to me.”

With just one event left, the Bruins were tied with the Golden Bears, 132-132, with the top finisher of the 200-yard relay taking home the win for the team.

Recording a time of 1:31.54, the Bruins fell short by 1.02 seconds, claiming second place.

“Brooke has been in those situations and has been prepared for these moments,” MacEachern said. “Every single year you’ve (Schaffer) came in and inspired, and helped other people to get to where you (Schaffer) are right now.”

Following her event-winning performances Friday, Schaffer took second in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, recording times of 23.12 and 50.10, respectively.

Despite the losses this weekend, Wolfrum said the team culture has helped the Bruins rise to the occasion.

“We’ve got leadership on this team. We’ve got strong values,” Wolfrum said. “That’s what we do. Do it day in and day out, and then we get to shine in moments like this.”

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Aaron Doyle
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