The dual meets may pile up weekend after weekend, but the Cardinal women’s swimming and diving team just keeps on rolling. For the second weekend in a row, No. 8 Stanford (8-1, 5-0 Pac-12) took tough back-to-back meets in stride, beating UCLA 164-134 and No. 7 USC 160.5-139.5 on the road.
Against the Bruins on Friday, the Cardinal swam to a record-setting night, shattering pool and meet records left and right. Senior sprint specialist Sam Woodward continued to make the best of her senior season by breaking both the pool and meet record in the 50 freestyle. En route to a victory in that event, Woodward’s time of 22.67 seconds easily shattered UCLA Spieker Aquatic Center’s previous pool record of 22.90. Senior teammate Betsy Webb also broke the old pool and meet record in the 50 freestyle, but finished second behind Woodward by two-tenths of a second. The 50 freestyle was one of two individual event wins for Woodward, who also won the 100 butterfly with a come-from-behind performance to touch out UCLA’s Yasi Jahanshahi.
But Woodward wasn’t alone on the action. Junior Andi Murez likewise broke the pool and meet record in the 100 freestyle, holding off Bruin swimmer Kathryn Murphy down the stretch. Sophomore Felicia Lee also broke the meet record in the 200 backstroke—a record that had been untouched since 1994—and in the process, smoked the competition field by almost three seconds.
While these Cardinal swimmers showed terrific mid-season speed, the toughest swimmer of the meet might have been sophomore Andie Taylor. Not only did Taylor win three individual events, but she also posted times that were faster than the NCAA “B” cut in two of the three events—the 200 freestyle and 400 individual medley.
On the diving board, sophomore Stephanie Phipps continued her dual-meet consistency by sweeping the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events. Her efforts on the board helped the Cardinal outscore a deep Bruins diving squad by a collective score of 21-17.
A day later, Stanford went into No. 7 USC’s McDonald’s Swim Stadium as a slight underdog according to the national rankings. But the Cardinal would have none of it, as the team started off the meet with a huge win in the 200 medley relay. The 1-3 finish in that event gave the Cardinal a 13-4 lead that was never relinquished.
Woodward had another stellar performance by winning a total of four events, including two relays. The senior led a critical Cardinal 1-2-3 sweep in the 50 freestyle. Six events later, Woodward dove into the pool again and essentially sealed the meet for the Cardinal with a victory in the 100 butterfly.
But the most intriguing matchup of Saturday was probably between Stanford’s Maya DiRado and USC’s Katinka Hosszu. The senior Trojan swimmer is one of the fastest and most versatile swimmers in the country. Hosszu is an Olympian who represented Hungary in 2008, a World Championship gold medalist, an eight-time All-American, a three-time NCAA champion in one year and the 2011 NCAA Swimmer of the Meet.
But swimming unfazed, the sophomore DiRado held her own in the three events that she raced against Hosszu. In the 200 individual medley, DiRado was just touched out by Hosszu, but the Cardinal swimmer defended her status as the country’s current fastest swimmer in the 200 backstroke by defeating Hosszu in that event by over a full second.
Although Stanford dominated most of the meet, there were a few events where USC put up a tough fight. USC certainly took advantage Stanford’s weak spot in the breaststroke events as the Trojans outscored the Cardinal 30-8 in those races. USC diver Victoria Ishimatsu swept the diving events, which helped the Trojans stay at least in contention throughout the meet. But even those advantages could not cancel out the Cardinal’s 1-2-3 sweep of the Trojans in three events.
Stanford’s current five-meet winning streak is a testament to its ability to respond under heavy pressure, limited rest and tough adversity. The team will now have two weeks of uninterrupted training before the showdown with its biggest rival, California. As luck would have it, Cal is currently the No. 1 team in the nation. But the past two weekends have shown that the Cardinal is capable of beating a higher-ranked opponent on any given day. If Stanford can beat Cal, the women’s team will end the regular season undefeated in Pac-12 competition.