Women’s swim and dive wins conference opener

After defeating Arizona on Friday, the Trojans also won their second conference meet against ASU the following day.

Women’s swim and dive is just getting acclimated to a new season and they’ve already swept the first leg of Pac-12 competition. (Gina Nguyen / Daily Trojan)

The No. 7 Trojans traveled to Tempe and Phoenix this weekend, claiming victory over Arizona and No. 21 ASU in their first two Pac-12 dual meets.

The team racked up 159 points against the Wildcats and 189 points against the Sun Devils on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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Making a splash Friday afternoon at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center in Tempe, seniors Caroline Famous, Kaitlyn Dobler, and Anicka Delgado and graduate Vasilissa Buinaia opened the meet with a 3:31.58 400-yard medley relay, setting the tone for many more victories. 

In the 1000-yard freestyle, junior Marlene Kahler blew past her competition, winning the event by five seconds with a time of 9:59.63.

Freshman Lilla Minna Abraham (1:44.45) and sophomore Claire Tuggle (1:48.24) took the top two spots in the 200-yard free while Famous tallied more points for the team after winning the 100-yard backstroke in 52.18 seconds.

Junior Alice Waldow added to the Trojans’ score count with a third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke. She set a personal best of 54.97 seconds in the event. 

Dobler returned to the pool to sweep the breaststroke events, touching the wall in 58.54 seconds for the 100-yard and 2:11.05 for the 200-yard.

USC fell to ASU in the 200-yard butterfly, one of the few events the Trojans did not take first place in. 

Heading into the 50-yard free, Buinaia, Famous and Delgado saw a podium-perfect finish, locking in the top three spots in the event.

Bunaia recreated that magic in the 100-yard free alongside Abraham and sophomore Hannah Kuechler, recording another 1-2-3 finish for the Trojans. 

Making her Pac-12 debut, Kuechler gave her competitors a performance to remember, setting a personal best of 49.73 seconds in the 100-yard free.

Sophomore Justina Kozan had a strong day, taking the 200-yard backstroke in 1:56.57 and the 500-yard free in 4:44.52.

To round out the day’s competition, senior divers Allison Ward and Farrah Volpintesta placed second and third in the 3-meter diving, respectively. Volpintesta also came third in 1-meter diving, adding another three points for the team.

With a win under their belt, the Trojans trekked north to Phoenix Saturday to face off against the ASU Sun Devils at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. 

The Trojans opened strong after the fierce foursome of Famous, Dobler, Delgado and Buinaia reunited to swim to victory in the 200-yard medley relay.

Though Kahler was unable to win the 1000-yard free again after her impressive performance the day before, Kozan stepped up for the Trojans, clinching third place with a time of 9:42.53.

USC dominated the 200-yard free with Abraham (1:43.35), Tuggle (1:45.26) and Kuechler (1:46.51) in another 1-2-3 finish for the team.

Famous returned to the water to take the 100-yard backstroke in 51.48 seconds, improving her winning time from the day before.

The breaststroke events were once again both won by Dobler who also recorded faster times of 57.61 seconds (100-yard) and 2:08.55 (200-yard).

Buinaia (22.35), Famous (22.64) and Delgado (22.69) gave another stellar performance in the 50-yard free on Saturday, securing the team’s fourth top-three sweep of the weekend. 

In 1-meter diving, junior diver Grace Lee recorded a first place finish with a score 26 points higher than that of second-place ASU sophomore diver Amayah Wiley. 

Buinaia and Abraham repeated their first and second place finishes in the 100-yard free clocking in at 48.16 seconds and 48.65 seconds, both improvements from Friday.

Freshman Macky Hodges won the 200-yard backstroke with a season best of 1:54.92 while Famous set a personal best of 1:56.40 coming in second.

As though four wasn’t enough, Volpintesta, Lee and freshman diver Lily Castanon procured one more top three sweep in 3-meter diving with more than 800 points combined.

The team approached the end of the meet when Delgado won the 100-yard fly (52.54) and Abraham set a personal best winning the 200-yard individual medley (1:57.32).

The team finished up their weekend the same way they started with a 3:15.52 win in the 400-yard relay, this time freestyle.

Next up, the Trojans will travel to Austin on Nov. 15 to compete in the Texas Longhorn Invitational through Nov. 18. USC’s Uytengsu Aquatic Center will host the Trojan Diving Invitational Nov. 17 to  Nov. 19.

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