Stanford reclaims title, takes 2016 Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championship
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - In a close battle, Stanford men’s swimming came out on top on Saturday night, winning the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2012.
The Cardinal put together a total team-effort from start to finish, scoring the most points without winning the most races. Stanford took first in just three races over the weekend, but made the podium in 12 of 18 events, giving them 808 points for the win.
“I wasn’t sure if we were gonna win any events,” head coach Ted Knapp admitted. “We knew last year we graduated some real star power and we knew that, to win this meet, you don’t necessarily need the stars, but we need to have a complete team.”
After losing so many seniors, Knapp said that the depth of his team was key to success. And after a disappointing 2015 Pac-12 Championship meet, the Cardinal have had just one thing on their minds for the last year.
“I’m not gonna give them one of those ‘kipper’ pep talks the night before. I think it’s too late at that point. We started talking about this meet this point last year.
We’ve been talking about it, we wanted a different outcome, we were determined, and we really are enjoying the result.”
Senior Sean Duggan echoed Knapp’s “team first” sentiments.
“The big theme this week was doing it for the guy next to you. We’re doing it for the team. Everybody knew their place, knew their job, and everybody executed what needed to be done.”
Some younger swimmers gave the Cardinal its three race wins over the weekend. Freshman Sam Perry won the 50 and 100-yard freestyle while sophomore Liam Egan brought home the longest race, kicking Saturday night off with a win in the 1650 free.
“Sam had an incredible meet, and we can’t say we’re too surprised,” Duggan shared. “He works hard day-in and day-out…We knew he had something special in him, and we were really happy to see that he got what he deserved.”
Despite being only a sophomore, Egan came into the 2016 Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championship hungry for a win, and attributes their success to the family mentality.
“We knew that last year didn’t go the way we wanted it to, so early on in the year we decided that this was gonna be it for us. We got behind each other all year.
Distance group really respected what the sprinters were doing, sprinters really respected what the distance guys were doing, and we just got after it.”
The win meant a lot to the entire squad, since no one on the current team had ever won a Pac-12 title. After a run of 31 consecutive conference championships from 1982-2012, the Cardinal have been blanked the last three years.
To bring the hardware back to Stanford was important.
“It was the experience of a lifetime,” Duggan said. “I’ve been waiting four years, and we couldn’t do it without the younger guys…We gave them the encouragement, but they came in ready to roll.
After such a deep tradition of winning, and being a little short of our goal the last couple years, it means a lot, especially to the seniors, to get back on top.”