Friday evening saw the Stanford women’s swimming and diving squad travel to Washington State with the aim of extending both their unbeaten streak in the WSU match-up and their unblemished start to the season following a resounding season opening win over Utah.
And that is exactly what they did. Competing away from the familiar setting of the Avery Aquatic Center for the first time this season, the Cardinal overpowered the Cougars, with final team scores clocking in at 147-108. It was a day that ended with multiple venue records broken as Stanford’s streak of zero races lost came to an end, with the Cardinal missing some key performers in sophomore and US Olympian Torri Huske and graduate student Allie Raab. The Cougars put up a fight on their home turf, tasting victory in a handful of events through the likes of standout freshmen Emily Lundgren (100 and 200-yard breaststroke double) and Dori Hathazi (200-yard butterfly) — but the home team was, in the end, out of their depth against the current CSCAA and SwimSwam power rankings’ No. 2 ranked squad in the country.
Podium sweeps galore as Curzan and Nordmann break records
Stanford once again claimed all of the podium places in multiple events, with top-three finishes in the 50, 100, 200 and 500-yard freestyle events, as well as the 200-yard backstroke.
Senior Emma Wheal (23.51), sophomore Amy Tang (23.62) and graduate student Morgan Tankersley (24.03) took the top three spots over 50 yards, while the trio of sophomore Lillie Nordmann (1:48.86), freshmen Natalie Mannion (1:50.37) and Kirsti McEnroe (1:52.04) earned the 200-yard freestyle plaudits. Event winner Nordmann’s time was even quick enough to sneak under the previous pool record from all the way back in 2014 — one of two venue records broken on the day. Freshman and US Olympian Claire Curzan is the other new owner of a Gibb Pool record, with her 100-yard backstroke-winning time of 53.46 also earning her an NCAA “B” cut.
Swimming is notoriously a sport where the top performances are generally only achieved when swimmers have completed their season training cycles and are tapered, shaved and adequately rested to perform at their peak — but both Curzan and Nordmann were proud, and exemplary, of how the team banded together to crank out another dual meet victory in the midst of a grueling period of training.
“Our team is in a really hard training block right now, so I’m proud of how we stepped up and raced,” Nordmann said, explaining that she relishes these mid-season dual meets as opportunities to fine-tune racing strategies and “work on the details.”
“We are such a tight group this year, so I’m excited to see where this season will take us,” the sophomore added.
With her breadth of experience on the international stage for Team USA, it may be easy to forget that this was still only Curzan’s second ever college meet — and she too appreciates the in-season racing practice, even during these “difficult months” of training.
“The meet was really great practice for me to start getting used to the college dual meet setup, and getting excited for the majority of our dual meets in January and February,” she said. “The energy of the team is great this year, and that support from everyone always helps you swim fast when you’re tired”.
Curzan echoed her teammate’s pride in their squad’s handling of racing fast and staying positive during tough training, adding “I’m pumped for the rest of our season, and I’m really proud of our team for working so hard and creating a special team culture.”
The day’s other “B” cut was claimed by another Stanford Olympian, with Canadian redshirt senior Taylor Ruck winning the 200-yard backstroke in 1:56.82. Mannion (2:00.91) and graduate student Lucie Nordmann (2:00.74) took bronze and silver in that event on the day — but by then, the dual meet exhibition mercy rule had been enacted, meaning only Stanford’s top-scoring swimmer per event would score points as the meet result had already been decided.
This was also the case in the 100 and 500-yard freestyle, where the Cardinal touched the wall first, second and third but only counted the scores of their top finishers. Curzan again showed her stardom and versatility with a victory in the 100-yard event (50.08) as Lillie Nordmann also raced to her second win of the day over 500 yards in 4:53.00. The 100 saw strong performances from freshman Kayla Wilson (51.01) and junior Janelle Rudolph (51.59), while Tankersley (4:58.49) showed her range to swim sprint and distance as she touched second behind Nordmann in the 500, just ahead of freshman and fellow Card Sophie Duncan (5:00.61).
Meanwhile, Stanford only had one swimmer entered in the day’s distance event — but sophomore Aurora Roghair was all the Cardinal needed to secure the 1000-yard freestyle victory, clocking in at 9:59.55. Wheal’s second individual victory, in the 100-yard butterfly (55.29), and a win for freshman Gigi Johnson in the 200-yard individual medley (2:04.54) in the last two individual events marked Stanford’s other event winners.
Relay dominance continues as the Cardinal march on
Stanford is still yet to lose a relay this season as the Cardinal’s team of Tang, Rudolph, Wheal and sophomore Anna Shaw clinched the top spot in 1:42.48 in the meet’s opening event, the 200-yard medley relay, ahead of the Nordmann sisters, Johnson and Curzan (second, 1:43.70). Curzan, Tankersley, Roghair and Mannion then teamed up to close out the meet in style, out-touching the Cougars with a time of 1:33.75 in the 200-yard freestyle relay, which saw Curzan post a rapid 23.06 on the lead-off leg.
Another dominant display from Greg Meehan’s squad extended the team to a 2-0 record as they remain unbeaten in history against Washington State. Now, the Cardinal look ahead to a Nov. 4 showdown at San Jose State, with action getting underway at 1 p.m. PT.