The USC women’s swimming and diving team (8-2, 6-1) dominated in the pool Friday, capping off another successful regular season with a 181-119 victory against UCLA (6-4, 3-4) at the Spieker Aquatics Center.
Friday’s win gives the Trojans nine consecutive victories in dual meets against the Bruins, one short of their all-time win-streak in the series — USC defeated UCLA ten years in a row from 1994 to 2003.
“I am obviously proud of our team’s record,” USC’s tenth-year head coach Dave Salo said. “We knew they were going to come at us with everything they had, but we felt we would come away with a win.”
Though swim and dive meets consist of several different individual events, the victory was truly a team effort. USC’s “B” squad brought their A-game in the day’s opening event, when freshmen Hanni Leach, Kirsten Vose, junior Evan Swenson, and senior co-captain Lucy Worrall finished the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:38.27.
Vose wouldn’t stop there, as she broke the pool and meet records in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:44.07, a personal record. Her time was one of the fastest in the country, especially impressive because she has only swum this particular event a handful of times this season. Later in the day, she broke the meet and pool records in the 200-yard breaststroke.
Several other freshmen rose to the occasion alongside Vose: Elizabeth Stinson and Allie Wooden finished first and second, respectively, in the 1000-yard freestyle, and Madison Wright only missed a victory in the 200-yard butterfly by one-fifth of a second. Later, Destiny Nelson would take second place in the 200-yard backstroke and 400-yard individual medley. On the diving board, freshman Madison Witt led the charge for the Trojans, winning the 3-meter springboard and placing fourth in the 1-meter.
“We had some strong results from a lot of our kids,” Salo said. “We really showed a balanced effort to come away with the win.”
Junior Anika Apostalon was peerless in the sprints, winning the 50-and-100-yard freestyle races back-to-back. Senior Kasia Wilk finished second and third in those races, respectively.
The overall victory was never truly in doubt, but it wasn’t until senior co-captains Kendyl Stewart and Worrall delivered strong first and second place finishes in the 100-yard butterfly that the Trojans officially sealed the deal.
The Trojans would finish the meet the same way they started: with a commanding victory in a relay event. This time, the combined efforts of Apostalon, Swenson, Vose, and Wilk would be enough to beat UCLA by over a full second in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
With Friday’s victory, the Trojans improved their stock heading into the postseason, where they will once again face off with their toughest in-state rivals, Cal and Stanford.
“The women want to start a new streak,” Salo said. “We have a balanced team and can score a lot of points in every event … It will be a dog fight against Cal and Stanford, but the women are prepared and focused.”
USC won’t compete again until February 24th, when the Pac-12 championships begin in Federal Way, Washington, but the win against UCLA affords them some momentum moving into the competition. Depending on their performance in the conference championship, the Trojans may have the opportunity to take their prowess in the pool onto the national stage for the NCAA Championships, which begin in mid-March. USC last won a team NCAA title in 1985.