Despite a tight affair in the opening stretch of events, No. 3 Stanford women’s swimming (8-0, 7-0 Pac-12) pulled clear of No. 12 UC Berkeley (7-2, 5-2 Pac-12), recording a 161-101 victory at the Avery Aquatic Center on Saturday that secured another unbeaten regular season for Greg Meehan’s squad.
Just like the men’s team against USC last weekend, this last home meet of the year also provided the perfect stage to celebrate the squad’s fourth and fifth-year seniors: Kira Crage, Alex Crisera, Emma Wheal, diver Julia Wortman, redshirt senior Taylor Ruck and graduate students Lucie Nordmann, Allie Raab and Morgan Tankersley.
Earlier this week, Meehan said “this is the best meet that we’ve raced in a dual meet all year” — and the visiting Golden Bears capitalized on a Stanford disqualification in the opening 200-yard medley relay to get off to a dream start with a ‘1-2’ finish.
Unfazed, the Cardinal roared back in the very next event as sophomore distance specialist Aurora Roghair grabbed the win in the 1000-yard freestyle with a 9:50.38. The real race in that event was for the runner-up spot, where Tankersley (9:57.08) threw down a huge 56.82 final 100-yard split — the fastest in the field by over a second — to sneak ahead of Cal’s Fanni Fabian (9:57.22) into second place.
Later in the meet, Roghair completed the tough distance double once again, taking top spot in the 500-yard freestyle (4:47.37) ahead of freshman Kayla Wilson (second, 4:47.90).
Wilson had earlier won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:45.51, coming from behind with a field-leading 53.70 second 100 yards to shoot past Ruck (third, 1:47.67) into first place.
Next up was the 100-yard backstroke where, despite being edged out of first place by Cal’s Isabelle Stadden, the Cardinal’s stream of points continued as sophomore Torri Huske (52.45), junior Janelle Rudolph (54.56), Nordmann (54.58) and Crisera (54.71) grabbed second through fifth place.
Huske went on to win the 200-yard individual medley by a comfortable margin of nearly three seconds as she clocked in at 1:57.66. The sophomore was the only swimmer in the race under two minutes, while freshman Lucy Bell (2:00.96) took third.
That was Bell’s second podium of the day, having also finished third in the 100-yard breaststroke, behind Raab (second, 1:02.29) — who was twice Stanford’s top performer in the breaststroke events, as the fifth-year later went on to win the 200-yard breaststroke.
Behind Cal’s Leah Polonsky (sister of Cardinal men’s team sophomore Ron) at the halfway point, Raab came storming back to grab first place in 2:14.39, and was joined in the top three by sophomore Sam Tadder (third, 2:16.16).
Freshman Claire Curzan swept the butterfly events, putting up times of 1:54.42 in the 200 and 51.08 in the 100-yard butterfly. Both events saw Stanford take second place, too, through freshman Charlotte Hook (1:57.25) in the 200, and Wheal (52.62) in the 100.
Sprint star Wheal also won the 50-yard freestyle in 22.42, two tenths of a second ahead of second-place Huske (22.63), while a similar margin separated Ruck (49.77) and sophomore Amy Tang (49.95) in the top two spots of the 100-yard freestyle.
The Cardinal also grabbed two of the top three positions in the 200-yard backstroke, with freshman Natalie Mannion (1:56.17) and Crisera (1:56.18) in second and third place, respectively, separated by the finest of margins.
Closing out a win against their major conference rivals, Curzan, Tang, Wheal and Ruck clocked 3:15.58 for first place in the 400-yard freestyle relay, four seconds clear of Cal’s two teams tied at 3:19.99. Stanford’s second unit, consisting of Wilson, Tankersley and sophomores Lillie Nordmann and Anna Shaw, were a mere tenth of a second further back, at 3:20.09.
Following their undefeated regular season, the Cardinal are back in action with the four-day Pac-12 Championships, beginning Feb. 22 in Federal Way, Wash.