Senior Maya DiRado led the charge for Stanford women’s swimming and diving by collecting three individual conference titles, while junior Katie Olsen earned two titles and seniors Felicia Lee and Stephanie Phipps notched one apiece at the Pac-12 Championship Meets over the weekend. Despite the strong individual performances, however, the Cardinal was ultimately surpassed by the rival California Golden Bears as it failed to defend its 2013 conference championship, accumulating a total of 1,364.0 points to the Bears’ 1,552.5.
The Cardinal started the meet strong with a solid victory in the 200-yard medley relay in a school-record 1:35.74 as the team of Lee, Olsen, freshman Nicole Stafford and junior Maddy Schaefer triumphed over Cal thanks to a ferocious breaststroke leg from Olsen that paced the Cardinal and ultimately gave it a large enough cushion to emerge victorious.
That was only the beginning of Olsen’s successful performances; she went on to sweep the breaststroke events with times of 59.17 in the 100 and 2:08.39 in the 200, the latter being the third-fastest time in Stanford history. In the 100, she barely out-paced Kasey Carlson of USC after having been neck-and-neck with the senior through the first 50 yards. In the 200, she was even with USC’s Stina Gardell for the first 100 yards before pulling ahead in the second half as Gardell grew fatigued and slowed down. She eventually beat Utah freshman Stina Colleou by seven-tenths of a second.
“Today, entering the breaststroke, I just wanted to go out there, have fun and feed off of the energy of my teammates and kind of just go out and race and I was very happy,” Olsen said to the Pac-12 Networks. “I was actually pretty surprised – but pleasant surprise. Stanford has kind of this fire that we race with, and we really need to kind of go into the session with that fire and go out there and race and have fun.”
DiRado, meanwhile, claimed her individual titles by sweeping the individual medley (IM) events and swooping to a solid victory in the 200-yard butterfly. In the 200 IM, DiRado fell behind Gardell and Celina Li of Cal early before catapulting herself to victory with a powerful freestyle leg. Meanwhile, her second consecutive victory in the 400 was all but clinched after the first 100 yards, as she built a lead that she never relinquished as she finished in 4:01.72. Her victory in the 200 butterfly was largely due to her ability to sustain her pace throughout the race, as she took charge in the second half of the race with no 50-yard splits exceeding 30 seconds to cruise to an easy victory in 1:53.60.
“I was excited to defend my title in the 400 IM,” said DiRado to the Pac-12 Networks. “I might have gone out a little faster than I normally would. I just wanted to get it done…I’ve never won both IMs in the same meet. I’ve never won the 200 IM, either. It’s nice and hopefully it’s a good sign for things to come at [the NCAA Championships].”
Senior Felicia Lee continued her stellar season with an individual title in the 100-yard butterfly while also setting a new school record of 51.29 in the 100-yard backstroke in a losing effort to Cal sophomore Rachel Bootsma. She was also a participant in the 400-yard medley relay, in which she, DiRado, Olsen and freshman Lia Neal set a new school record with their time of 3:29.65.
Neal also impressed in her first Pac-12 Championship, notching a pair of runner-up performances in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle events behind Cal freshman and Olympic teammate Missy Franklin.
Phipps won the 1-meter diving event with her score of 332.25 but was unable to defend her conference title in the 3-meter event, losing by just nine points to USC’s Haley Ishimatsu.
Moving forward, the Cardinal will look to head into the NCAA Championships in three weeks with confidence after its impressive showing at the Pac-12 meet. The NCAAs will take place in Minneapolis, Minn. starting on March 20.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.