2024 Women’s Pac-12 Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap


Day 1 Finals Heat Sheet

The 2024 Women’s Pac-12 Swimming and Diving Championships — the last ever in conference history — kick off on Wednesday night at the Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.

The USC women enter this year’s meet owning 10 of the 18 top-seeded times in the Pac-12 as they seek their first conference title since 2016. Two-time defending champion Stanford is without Torri Huske and Claire Curzan, but the Cardinal should still vie for another Pac-12 crown along with Cal.


  • NCAA record: 1:31.51, Virginia – 2023 NCAA Championships
  • Pac-12 record: 1:33.11, Stanford – 2018
  • Meet record: 1:34.13, Cal – 2018
  • NCAA ‘A’ cut: 1:36.24
  • Time to qualify for 2023 NCAAs: 1:36.96

Top 8:

  1. Cal – 1:33.89 *Meet record
  2. USC – 1:34.52
  3. Arizona – 1:36.90
  4. Arizona State – 1:37.50
  5. UCLA – 1:37.68
  6. Washington State – 1:39.79
  7. Utah – 1:40.30

DQ: Stanford – 1:35.67

Dave Durden‘s Cal squad hit the ground running with a 200 medley relay victory over top-seeded USC in a fun battle that came down to the final leg.

Cal senior Isabelle Stadden (23.64 backstroke), senior Jade Neser (26.24 breaststroke), and junior Mia Kragh (22.42 butterfly) put the Bears ahead of the Trojans by .29 seconds heading into the freestyle anchor leg. Then Cal junior Stephanie Akakabota stepped up when it mattered most with a 21.59 free split, outdueling USC fifth-year Vasilissa Buinaia (21.93) to clinch the win in the opening event.

Stadden was within a tenth of her personal-best 23.57 from NCAAs last year. Neser got the better of Trojans star breaststroker Kaitlyn Dobler (26.50) by a couple tenths in an impressive performance for the South African standout.

The Bears’ winning time of 1:33.89 was more than half a second clear of the Trojans, in the process lowering their Pac-12 Championships meet record of 1:34.13 from 2018.

USC seniors Caroline Famous (23.73 back) and Anicka Delgado (22.36 fly) joined Dobler and Buinaia on the Trojans’ runner-up relay that touched the wall in 1:34.52. USC has been as fast as 1:34.07 this season at the Texas Invitational in November.

Sophomore Natalie Mannion (24.53 back), freshman Lucy Thomas (26.58 breast), sophomore Lucy Bell (22.91 fly), and junior Amy Tang (21.65 free) appeared to help the Cardinal to hold off Arizona by just a couple tenths, but Stanford was ultimately disqualified, seemingly on its final leg.

The Wildcats went with Paige Armstrong (24.88 back), Maddy Ahluwalia (27.19 breast), Julia Heimstead (23.11 fly), and Julia Wozniak (21.72 free) for their 3rd-place showing in 1:36.90.

Arizona State junior Erin Milligan had the second-fastest freestyle anchor in the field at 21.65 behind Akakabota’s 21.59. The Sun Devils placed 4th in 1:37.50 just barely ahead of UCLA’s 1:37.68.


  • NCAA record: 6:45.91, Stanford – 2017 NCAA Championships
  • Pac-12 record: 6:45.91, Stanford – 2017
  • Meet record: 6:49.42, Stanford – 2017
  • NCAA ‘A’ cut: 7:00.86
  • Time to qualify for 2023 NCAAs: 7:05.59

Top 8:

  1. Stanford – 6:53.33
  2. Cal – 6:56.81
  3. Arizona State – 6:58.41
  4. UCLA – 7:02.72
  5. Arizona – 7:09.02
  6. Washington State – 7:13.62
  7. Utah – 7:14.56

DQ: USC – 6:57.88

After a DQ in the 200 medley relay, Stanford bounced back with a victory in the 800 free relay courtesy of sophomore Natalie Mannion (1:43.67), junior Lillie Nordmann (1:43.38), junior Aurora Roghair (1:43.41), and sophomore Kayla Wilson (1:42.87). Mannion shaved almost a full second off her previous-best 1:44.61 from last month.

In a stunning reversal of fortunes, USC’s top-seeded relay consisting of Buinaia, sophomore Claire Tuggle, sophomore Justina Kozan, and freshman Minna Abraham was disqualified, leaveing the Trojans in last place after the first night of action.

Cal’s quartet of freshman Ava Chavez (1:45.64), fifth-year Mia Motekaitis (1:44.29), fifth-year Rachel Klinker (1:44.12), and junior Leah Polonsky (1:42.76) earned a runner-up finish for the Bears. Polonsky had the fastest non-disqualified split in the field as USC freshman Minna Abraham‘s 1:42.45 split will not count officially. Cal finished the first finals session at the top of the team standings thanks to a 1st-place finish in the 200 medley relay and 2nd-place effort here.

Arizona State’s team of sophomore Ieva Maluka (1:44.14), senior Lindsay Looney (1:43.25), sophomore Charli Brown (1:45.58), and senior Molly Batchelor (1:45.44) was the only other squad under eight minutes with a time of 6:58.41.

UCLA didn’t hit the NCAA ‘A’ cut with its 4th-place finish in 7:02.72, but the Bruins did drop seven seconds off their season best to dip under last year’s invite time of 7:05.59.

Team Scores After Day 1

  1. Cal – 120
  2. Arizona State – 106
  3. Arizona – 104
  4. UCLA – 102
  5. Washington State – 96
  6. Utah – 92
  7. Stanford – 64
  8. USC – 56

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1 month ago

hodges split would’ve put sc in 2nd if they weren’t disqualified

1:43.9 out of the b relay out 50.01

1 month ago

DQ in a 800 free relay? That hurts! smh

1 month ago

USC 4 sec gain in 8 free…

Last edited 1 month ago by Noah
Fast and Furious
1 month ago

That’s a crazy split by Polonsky

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

some concerning results from USC, you know my kneejerk reaction is to say they might not be fully tapered but this was their first opportunity to win the conference in years so you’d have to think they’d wanna taper for this opportunity, right?

I miss the ISL (go dawgs)
1 month ago

why was stanford DQed? i watched the race 5 times and didnt see a false start anywhere. illegal touch, illegal dolphin kicks?

1 month ago

How does a team get on the podium with 3rd place results appearing on meet mobile and somewhere between between diving and the 800 free relay suddenly get called a DQ? Did they over celebrate?

1 month ago

For the record the original result with Stanford at 3rd was “official” and Stanford was on podium. Don’t know what happened later on.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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