The USC vs. UCLA dual meet started off as a rather heated cross-town affair, with the host Bruins actually leading USC going into first diving break by four points.
By the end of the meet, though, both teams were wearing racing suits, and the Trojans swam their way to safety with a 165-135 margin. Almost every Pool Record was broken in the process.
Things started off well for both teams, with both A relays breaking the Spieker Aquatics Center pool record in the 200 yard medley relay. USC’s combination of Henriette Stenkvist, Kasey Carlson, Kendyl Stewart, and Kasia Wilk (that’s three sophomores and the senior Carlson) winning in 1:36.29. UCLA took 2nd in 1:38.38.
That relay was actually USC’s fastest of the season, and the fastest in the country so far this season. That’s despite using a different lineup than they’ve used all year, shifting Stewart to the fly leg and using Stenkvist on the backstroke leg. While they still gave up quite a bit of ground to UCLA and their backstroker Linnea Mack on that leg, an amazing 22.88 fly split from Stewart more-than-made-up for that.
UCLA took the 1st and 2nd place positions in the 1000 yard freestyles with a 9:42.97 from senior Lauren Baker and a 9:46.23 from sophomore Katy Campbell, both of which were under the old Pool Record. That swim from Baker pushes her into the 8th-best in the country this season.
UCLA pushed their lead further with a win in the 200 free from their best swimmer Ting Quah. She swam a 1:46.11 that broke Lindsey DePaul’s Pool Record, and was also the fastest time in the history of the UCLA – USC series. Kendyl Stewart took 2nd in 1:47.12, but UCLA earned 3 of the top 4 spots in that event.
UCLA ran their streak to three events in a row thanks to a 1-2 punch from their two backstroking freshmen, Linnea Mack (54.02) and Madison White (54.04).3rd went to USC’s Stina Gardell, a great IM’er, but a swimmer who we’ve found no record of a previous swim in this 100 back for, with a 54.82.
USC got back into the win column with Kasey Carlson swimming a 59.28. As an indication of how good she’s been this season, that breaks her 2012 Meet Record by over a second-and-a-half as compared to her swim here in 2012, and also broke Rebecca Soni’s record for the fastest swim in this series by almost the same amount.
The Bruins were back on top of the podium in the women’s 200 fly with yet another 1-2 finish. This time, it was junior Noelle Tarazona winning in 1:56.50, and her teammate Anna Senko taking 2nd in 1:56.85. That was Senko’s season-best time, and both times were very impressive for the Bruins in an event that they’ve been very good in recently as a program.
USC’s Chelsea Chenault, more typically a 200 freestyler, was 3rd in 1:57.01. As an indication of where she’s at, though not her primary event, that is a lifetime best for her (and she did swim that event at the Trojans’ mid-season invite, so it could be on her championship schedule.)
The two teams would trade wins through the first diving break, with USC sophomore Kasia Wilk putting up a season-best 22.24 in to win the 50 free, and UCLA senior Paulina Guzman besting Haley Ishimatsu on the 1-meter springboard.
Coming out of that break, USC took command of he meet once again. That started with another amazing swim and pool record from USC senior Kasey Carlson (47.78), followed by her teammate Wilk in 48.80. They were able to beat out UCLA’s Quah (49.44), with Carlson sprinting out to a big early lead and not looking back.
Next up, Stewart was a 1:53.54 in the 200 back. That’s an event in which she placed 4th at last year’s NCAA Championships, but with only one swimmer out of last year’s top eleven graduating, it will be a dogfight to maintain that spot this year.
She beat UCLA freshman Madison White soundly in that race; she was a 1:56.22 for 2nd.
USC won another race in the next event, event 11, the women’s 200 breaststroke, with a 2:09.86 from junior Andrea Kropp. That matches her mid-season swim from the UT Invite, and she was followed by teammate Meghan Hawthorne in 2nd with a 2:11.66.
Chenault picked up a win in the 500 free, and in the process crushed the pool record by three seconds with a 4:42.30. Senior teammate Lynette Lim was 2nd in 4:46.68, and UCLA’s top finisher was Kacey Milligan in 3rd in 4:49.28.
Stewart then added a 2nd win with a blazing 51.43 in the 100 fly (beating Quah (53.11) in Quah’s best event), then came an Ishimatsu win on the 3-meter and a Gardell win in the 200 IM (1:56.36) to complete a second-half event sweep of the individual races for the Trojans.
USC capped things off with a 1:29.13 in the 200 free relay, but it was not easily earned. UCLA was just behind in 1:29.36. Both teams’ splits below show how sharp each team looked at this meet:
- Carlson 22.17
- Wilk 22.20
- Swenson 22.63
- Tosky 22.13
- Quah 22.67
- Mack 21.91
- Murphy 22.19
- Dornick 22.58
Both teams will springboard off of this meet into the Pac-12 Championships with a lot of confidence. With still a month left until NCAA’s, however, it will take a deft touch by both coaches to maintain this speed through the end of the season.