On an emotional Senior Day in front of an enthusiastic crowd of friends, family and supporters, the men’s swimming and diving squad hoped to build off of the energy at Avery Aquatics Center to defeat an intimidating USC team. Instead, the Cardinal helplessly watched as victory after victory slipped through their fingers. The No. 9 Stanford (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) dropped a heartbreaker to the No. 3 Trojans (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) by a final score of 156-139.
The Cardinal, which was riding high after its huge upset of No. 1 Arizona two weekends ago, was unable to use its momentum in its favor against a USC group that had been exposed by No. 6 Cal in a convincing defeat on Friday. Stanford swimmers were able to keep pace with the Trojans all afternoon but were never able to gain an extra edge, which cost them the victory on Saturday afternoon.
“The challenge for us today was to win events, and although we raced really well, we didn’t win enough races for the victory,” head coach Ted Knapp remarked after the match. “If you look at the races we lost, the differences between first and second place were very slim. That goes to show you how important the details in racing can be.”
It was apparent from the beginning that the teams were very evenly matched. The first event of the afternoon, the 400-yard medley relay, was decided by a margin of less than two-tenths of a second. Olympic bronze medalist Vladimir Morozov swam a powerful anchor leg for USC to finally overtake Stanford in the final seconds of the race. It was only a sign of things to come.
The very next event, the 1650-yard freestyle, was also decided by a mere one-tenths of a second as USC sophomore Cristian Quintero trailed Stanford sophomore Drew Cosgarea throughout the grueling 15-minute affair until the final leg, in which Quintero pulled ahead in the last few yards to clinch a victory.
It was more of the same in the third event of the afternoon, the 200-yard freestyle, when sophomore Thomas Stephens’ wild comeback was stopped short as he was touched-out by Trojan junior Dmitri Colupaev by a margin of seven-hundredths of a second.
Stanford could never overcome its painful early deficit despite strong performances from sophomores David Nolan and Kristian Ipsen. Nolan picked up victories in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley, along with a second-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke as he continued to impress by adding to his string of victories this season.
Ipsen dominated the diving boards all afternoon, as he completely blew away all competition en route to huge victories in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events. He has consistently given the Cardinal strong performances all season, and his dominance on Saturday further cemented his status as one of the best divers in the nation.
Seniors Mack Montgomery and Matt Thompson were able to leave Avery Center on a winning note, as they contributed the only other winning efforts for Stanford on Saturday. Montgomery and freshman Tom Kremer were able to hold the Trojans at bay in the 200-yard butterfly. Thompson also held a steady lead throughout the 200-yard backstroke and was able to hold through to the finish in a winning effort.
Head coach Knapp, reflecting on the competition and the remainder of the season, stated, “A win today would have been nice, but we have a greater goal in mind. Our competition will get more talented, and our seasonal plan is designed so we can move from training mode to racing mode.”
Stanford will look to get back to its winning ways in two weeks as it travels across the bay to visit No. 6 Cal (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) to wrap up the regular season.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at [email protected].