This was a championship meet unlike any other in the country. The higher point values and huge conference depth led to wild point swings throughout the meet, but it was a final day surge by Stanford in the mile swim, which outweighed Cal’s own fireworks in the 100 free, that made the difference on the final day of this meet.
Stanford, simply put, won this meet thanks to the strength of a ton of depth. They won only 5 events the whole meet, with three of them coming on the final day of competition to spur them on to a come-from-behind victory. This included a double-win from Kate Dwelley in the 200 free and 100 free. Stanford didn’t look as strong as Stanford usually looks at the Pac-10 Championships, but this should not be viewed as a bad thing. It appears as though the Cardinal have employed a bit of a paradigm shift this season, and chose not to rest as hard for conferences as they often do. The fact that they could still win this and save their big taper for NCAA’s bodes well for their chances at NCAA’s.
Cal’s relays were a huge surprise in this meet. We knew that they’d be good, but to beat the Stanford, USC, and Cal relays in 4 out of the 5 relay events surprised everyone. If they can perform as well in those relays at NCAA’s they will definitely be in contention for the team National Championship. If they want to win NCAA’s, they’re going to have to score a lot of points very early in the meet, because as we saw in this meet, their strongest events come prior to the last day.
USC was exactly what we thought they were. They won a ton of events, but didn’t have the kind of depth that it takes to win this type of meet. They did, however, win half of the 16 individual events. Don’t let the scores here fool you, USC will be as good as anybody in this conference at NCAA’s. Especially when led by the spectacular Katinka Hosszu, who put up winning times in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 fly that are better than those that anyone else in the country has put up this season. She’s gotta be the early leader for National Swimmer of the Year. They also have the edge over most of the teams competing for the NCAA title in that they have an outstanding diver, Tori Ishmatsu, who swept the springboard titles.
UCLA had an awesome performance to take 4th over Arizona. Part of this deficit was the result of Arizona DQ’ing the medley relay in the meet’s very first event, but even that wouldn’t have been enough to make up the difference. UCLA earned that 4th place finish with their highest point-total since 2006 and a total of seven school records. Arizona, simply put, didn’t look very good in their 5th place finish. But this was not wholly unexpected. Arizona rarely has much rest for Pac-10’s, and should never be underestimated in March.
Arizona State swam like a program possessed. They don’t have the depth of some of the top teams, but a third-place finish from their 400 medley relay and a meet title in the 100 breaststroke made this a very successful meet for them.
1. Stanford 1567.5
2. Cal 1545.5
3. USC 1309.5
4. UCLA 1099.5
5. Arizona 874
6. Arizona State 780
7. Washington State 297
8. Oregon State 289
Races You Need to Know About
-In the 200 yard backstroke, the rookies were on display. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d imagine that it’s not too common for the top 3 places in the same event at Pac-10’s to all be be taken by freshmen. For the top 5 places to all go to freshmen is simply unbelievable. But that’s exactly what happened in this 200 back. Add in two more freshman in 8th (Anna Senko-UCLA) and 9th (Cindy Tran-Cal), it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch these seven freshman develop together over the next 4 years. The pack will all be chasing Maya DiRado, who won the race in 1:53.04.
-In the 100 yard backstroke, USC’s Presley Bard was the heavy favorite as the fastest-returning 100 backstroker in the country. But “fastest-returning” doesn’t include freshmen, and that’s just what Cal’s Cindy Tran is. She swam a 51.22 that is one of the fastest freshman times ever, and is already faster than anyone else in the country has been this season. Don’t count Bard out at NCAA’s quite yet–her 52.23 was nowhere near what she’s capable of–but definitely put Tran on your NCAA radar.
-In the 400 yard IM, USC’s Katinka Hosszu swam a 4:00.04 that was .01 off of where she was at USA Short Course Nationals in December. This was an important confidence booster for her going towards NCAA’s, where she will be challenged by an impressively deep field, including Florida freshman Elizabeth Beisel who is already on the fast track for NCAA records down the line. Some people questioned how hard USC tapered for Nationals in December, but if you take Hosszu’s time here, and cross-reference it with some of the other USC times, Hosszu has 3:58 written all over her for NCAA’s.
-In the 50 free, Cal’s Liv Jensen is the defending NCAA Champion. She won that title with a 22.04. With the way this season has been going, a 22.04 would be lucky to final at NCAA’s this year. She showed that she is capable of stepping up her game just like everyone else in the country has done, and recorded the second-best time in the country this season at 21.73. Kate Dwelley from Stanford was no slouch either in 22.04 for second-place.
Swimmer of the Meet-Katinka Hosszu, Jr., USC-Hosszu swept three individual titles, in three awesome times. This included a 1:53.53 in the 200 IM, a 4:00.04 in the 400 IM, and a 1:51.85 in the 200 fly. While none of these were career (or even season) best times, they all ranked amongst the top 8 fastest swims (not swimmers) in their respective events of all-time. The 400 IM mark was the highest, at third best. This girl is on fire, and should be great at NCAA’s. She was the only swimmer in this meet to win three events, and one of only 3 swimmers in the meet to win two (along with Stanford’s Dwelley and USC teammate Haley Anderson).
Honorable Mention: Kate Dwelley, Stanford
Coach of the Meet-Lea Maurer, Stanford-This award doesn’t only go to coach Maurer because her team won: that would be too easy. Coach Maurer earned this honor on the strength of her development of a strong freshman class. This includes 200 back champion DiRado. Maurer has her team perched to take a run at an NCAA Championship in March.
Honorable Mention: Teri McKeever, Cal
Freshman of the Meet–Cindy Tran, Fr., Cal-Tran put up a great swim in the 100 back with a time of 51.22. She won the race by over a second, even against a great field. She not only won the race, she dominated it. She was fastest off the block, she was the fastest to every turn, and she was the fastest to the wall. In every facet of the race, she was the way better than the rest of the field. She also won the consolation championship in both the 200 back and 100 fly, meaning that she didn’t lose a single finals race the entire meet. That competitiveness is worth a lot at the NCAA level.
Honorable Mention: Maya DiRado, Stanford