Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
During the busy NCAA season, we have a tradition with our Swim of the Week: using it to pick out ‘the swim that won the meet’.
Because the standout, record-breaking swims get so much coverage and attention already, we turn our focus to the team points race, and the event that ultimately flipped the meet. While Stanford’s victory wasn’t exactly a nail-biter, it was also much closer than last year. In fact, the Cardinal faced a 28.5-point deficit heading into the final day of competition.
Now, that’s not as grim as it sounds. We had long predicted Stanford to make a big run on the final day, with many of their best events lined up, and a ton of projected scoring depth. But paper points don’t get you anywhere at the NCAA level. Stanford still had to show up on Saturday morning.
That’s why the 200 back was so important. Beginning the final prelims session, Stanford needed a tone-setter. It’s often difficult to maintain energy on the fourth day of an intense, grueling competition. But Stanford’s 200 backstrokers showed up big in prelims. Coming in seeded 2nd, 5th and 8th, Stanford’s women qualified 2nd (Taylor Ruck), 4th (Lucie Nordmann) and 6th (Erin Voss). Both Nordmann and Voss dropped from seed in that prelims swim, and Ruck would drop time in the final.
With Cal only qualifying one athlete (16th out of prelims), Stanford assured themselves of gaining at least 25 points on Cal in finals of the 200 back. (Finishing 6th-7th-8th would yield 36 points to Stanford, while Cal could only get as much as 9 for winning the B final). Ultimately, in that finals swim, Stanford scored 46 to Cal’s 3, taking the meet lead for the final time.
Maybe most impressive is that this meet-turning event was carried out by two freshmen and a sophomore – Stanford relied heavily on its youngest swimmers in its third-consecutive title run. And with established stars like Ella Eastin and Katie Drabot actually falling short of their projected point totals, it was the young depth like Ruck, Nordmann and Voss who carried the day.
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