Women of Troy finish season strong

The USC women’s swimming and diving team swam circles around crosstown rival UCLA Saturday afternoon, outclassing the Bruins in Westwood for the third consecutive year, 164.5-135.5.

Dominating · Freshman distance swimmer Haley Anderson and the Women of Troy handily beat UCLA on Saturday. Anderson captured the 1650-yard freestyle in 16:17.81, nearly eight seconds faster than the field. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

The Women of Troy (11-2, 4-2) improved to 20-16 all-time against UCLA and finished their regular season ranked ninth in the nation. UCLA fell to 5-4 overall, 2-4 in the Pac-10, going belly-up in its last three dual meets of the year.

The emotion of the rivalry meet made for some of the best swimming of the season ­— the last for four USC seniors. The teams combined to set nine Spieker Aquatics Center records and 48 season-best times.

“Everyone brings their best to the UCLA meet,” said USC head coach Dave Salo. “That’s what makes it so much fun.”

Juniors Presley Bard and Lyndsay DePaul, sophomore Ania Kowalczyk and freshman Christel Simms set the tone early, opening with a season-best and pool-record 1:40.08 in the 200-yard medley relay. DePaul, Bard and freshman Haley Anderson all finished the day with two first-place finishes apiece to lead the Trojans.

Anderson earned her first win of the meet in the 1650-yard freestyle with a pace of 16:17.81, nearly eight seconds ahead of UCLA’S Samantha Vanden Berge. DePaul followed the performance with a 1:46.92 time in the 200-yard free, another first-place effort and a Spieker Aquatics Center record. Freshman Kate Shumway and senior Krissy Forelli added four points with third- and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

In the last dual meet of her career, senior co-captain Dina Hegazy swam a season best 54.72 in the 100-yard backstroke to take second place for the Trojans. Hegazy finished only behind Bard, who claimed her second pool record at 53.86.

Several freshmen made a splash in the final count as well, from both the platforms and the springboard. Jordan Danny improved her season-best by nearly three seconds with a second-place effort in the 100-yard breaststroke. Her third-place 2:13.18 swim in the 200-yard breaststroke was more than four seconds faster than her previous record. Freshman Ariel Rittenhouse had another big day on the 1-meter springboard, edging sophomore teammate Victoria Ishimatsu 301.13 to 299.78.

UCLA took the final event of the day, winning the 400-yard free relay consolation prize in 3:23.86. The Bruins’ time was enough to out-swim water, as USC was disqualified from the event.

The win will earn USC five important points toward the Crosstown Gauntlet, a trophy awarded annually to the university who wins the most head-to-head athletic matchups over the other. The Trojans currently hold a 35-25 lead in this year’s contest.

The Trojans start postseason competition Feb. 24 at the 2010 Pac-10 championships in Long Beach, Calif. The NCAA championships begin March 18 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.