Late January isn’t typically thought of as the ideal time for a swim — current water temperatures in Santa Monica are hovering around 60 degrees, but that isn’t keeping a certain group of elite swimmers out of the pool this weekend. Over the next two days, the USC women’s swimming team will compete against No. 2 Stanford and No. 7 California for the right to be called the best in the Golden State.
The No. 5 Women of Troy (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) are looking to sweep this weekend heading into their final regular season meet against No. 19 UCLA (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12), who will also face Stanford and Cal this weekend. This season, the USC team has been led by co-captains Kendyl Stewart and Lucy Worrall, both seniors who will be competing in their final career home meets.
Saturday’s meet against No. 2 Stanford (4-0, 4-0) will be preceded by a ceremony honoring 10 USC seniors, including Stewart and Worrall. Kasia Wilk, Brianna Weinstein, Joanna Stenkvist and Nikki Chang are the other seniors competing for the last time at home, while Sam Adams, Natalie Kalibat, Jacqui Suitt and Katherine Van Winkle will be honored as senior divers.
Tonight’s matchup against No. 7 California (5-0, 4-0) will feature some of the top athletes in the Pac-12, including Bears senior, Rachel Bootsma, who is a two-time champion in the 100y backstroke and ranks fifth in the nation this year for it. Senior co-captain Elizabeth Pelton is a star in her own right, currently ranked in the top 10 in five different events.
The Cardinal are currently undefeated, and the Women of Troy haven’t beaten them in a meet since 1996. The Cardinal swimmers are versatile and dominant; sophomore Janet Hu, junior Lia Neal, senior Sarah Haase and freshman Ella Eastin all own more than one national top 15 ranking. Haase and Eastin each have the top national ranking in the 100y breast and the 400y individual medley respectively .
The team currently boasts eight different swimmers in the national top 20, with some of them holding top 20 rankings in more than one event. Juniors Anika Apostalon, Chelsea Chenault and sophomore Hannah Weiss each have two top 20 rankings, while freshman Kirsten Vose currently claims a top 20 spot in three different events: the 200y breast, the 100y breast and the 200y individual medley. As a team, the Women of Troy are ranked third in the 400y free relay and medley relay, fourth in the 800y free relay, seventh in the 200y free relay, eleventh in the 200y medley relay.
The meet against Cal will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center and Senior Day will begin at noon on Saturday.