Stanford’s strong start
To say it was a good week all around for Stanford swimming and diving could be classed as somewhat of an understatement. Just as the men’s team made a statement in their season opening win last Thursday, the powerhouse that is the No. 2 Cardinal women’s swimming and diving squad dove and raced their way to a 187-104 win over Utah. This first meet of the season marked a commanding performance that saw them extend their dual meet record against the Utes to 7-0.
Sixteen wins from 16 events speaks for itself as to the quality and versatility in Stanford’s squad. Leading the way was sophomore and reigning world champion 100-meter butterflier Torri Huske, who claimed two of those victories individually with her double header of the 100-yard backstroke (52.62 seconds) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:14.65). Huske also played a part in each of the Cardinal’s two first-placed relays on the day, the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. Speaking to SwimSwam, Huske echoed the preseason thoughts of head coach Greg Meehan when commenting on how her new freshmen teammates had “hit the ground running” — and just how well the new recruits are settling in became even more apparent after the season opening victory.
Freshman and US Olympian Claire Curzan — who will play a key role for Team USA at the 2022 Short Course World Championships in mid-December — joined Huske on the 100-yard backstroke podium (second, 52.64), and anchored the winning 400-yard freestyle relay team with the top-ranked split time off the day in 48.92. Curzan also brought home an individual title of her own in the 200-yard backstroke with a comfortable winning time of 1:54.77. Also tasting victory on their Stanford debuts were fellow freshmen Sophie Duncan (1000-yard freestyle, 10:07.22), Kayla Wilson (200 freestyle, 1:48.03), Charlotte Hook (200 butterfly, 1:57.39) and Gigi Johnson (100 butterfly, 54.34).
The win, over a Pac-12 rival, saw plenty of other podium finishes for Stanford’s freshmen and returning athletes alike — including first-placed performances in both the 1-meter (306.75) 3-meter (309.15) diving events for sophomore Maria Papworth.
“It was great to have the team get out there and compete today. The fall is a big training period and to break that up with a competition is always fun for them,” Meehan said, continuing that he was impressed with his athletes’ abilities to compete with intensity while also showing the accountability of elite athletes in sticking to their racing details.
The Cardinal climbs the national rankings
Already buzzing from their early season successes, both Stanford’s men’s and women’s programs received another boost to morale, and recognition of their strength in these NCAA showdowns. The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) — a committee of Division I coaches and a handful of media outlets — recently released their first dual meet rankings of the 2022-23 season, which saw Stanford’s women soar to second in the nation. The Cardinal men also improved on their national ranking from last season’s NCAA Championships to be polled as the sixth-placed team (based on dual meet strength) of all Division I programs.
Meehan was proud of Stanford’s high placings in the recently polled rankings but maintained that no amount of early season success and appreciation will distract them from their long-term aspirations. “It’s nice to be recognized [in the CSCAA rankings], but unlike most sports it doesn’t impact our postseason opportunities. We have to stay focused on ourselves, and what we are doing day-in and day-out”.
The Cardinal next compete when they travel to Washington State on Friday, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. PT (streamed live on the Pac-12 website), where Meehan’s squad will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.