2015 Pac-12 Swimming (W) & Diving (M/W) Championships preview
Year in and year out, Pac-12 women’s swimming sports some of the best swimmers in not just the United States, but on the international level as well. The 2015 Pac-12 Women’s Swimming Championships will again showcase several NCAA standouts and Olympians from all over the world. As of Feb. 16, five teams were ranked in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Top-25 poll, including three in the top 11 and two in the top three.
CALIFORNIA, the reigning Pac-12 champion and the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, is aiming for its fourth Pac-12 team Championship. The Bears have been a force in collegiate swimming over the past six years, winning three NCAA team titles in that span, including back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. Cal finished its regular season slate going 8-1 with its only dual loss coming at the hands of No. 6 Texas. Led by World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, Cal is poised to pick up its second Conference championship in three years. Franklin’s 200 IM time is only bested by her teammate, Elizabeth Pelton, who clocked the nation’s best time 1:52.93.
STANFORD, the nation’s No. 3-ranked team and and winner of 19 Conference titles overall, finished the dual season with an unblemished 7-2 record that featured wins over five ranked teams this season, including road victories over No. 11 Arizona and No. 25 Arizona State. The Cardinal finished as the NCAA championship runner up a year ago and this year welcome some new talent into the mix. Freshman Simone Manuel has come in and made an immediate impact for the Cardinal, setting Stanford records in the 50, 100, and 200 free. Manuel’s 50-free time of 21.59 and 100-free time of 46.62 were the fastest in the nation this year.
No. 11 ARIZONA finished the dual season 6-3 and hits the pool for championships following a win over No. 25 Arizona State. Bonnie Brandon proved to be once again be one of the Conference’s best in the backstroke, posting the Conference’s third-best time at 1:52.98. Brandon and teammate Tjasa Oder hold two of the nation’s top five times in the 1650 free. Oder finished as the runner up in the event at last year’s championships, where the Wildcats finished fourth.
No. 12 USC closed out the year with a win over rival No. 16 UCLA. The Trojans will rely on key swimmers like junior sophomore Kendyl Stewart, who finished as the runner up in the 100 fly at the league Championships last year and was the Pac-12 Champion in the 100 fly in 2013. This year Stewart posted the nation’s fastest time in the event. In the diving well, junior Haley Ishimatsu, the reigning national champ, will look to defend her platform title from last year’s Pac-12 Championships. Ishimatsu took honors as the Conference’s diver of the month twice this year.
The No. 16 UCLA Bruins finished fourth at Championships last season and this year enter as the nation’s No. 17 ranked team. The Bruins finished the year on a three-game losing streak, after starting the year winning six of its first seven. In the pool, UCLA is led by sophomore Linnea Mack. Mack collected top five finishes in all eight events she swam at the 2014 AT&T Winter National Championships, setting three school records and helping the Bruins to a first-place showing in that meet. On the platform, Maria Polyakova takes the lead after earning honors as December’s Pac-12 diver of the Month.
UTAH’s squad comes in having closed the year out with wins in two of their final three meets. Stina Colleou has proven to be one of the Conference’s best in the breast stroke. Colleou recorded speedy times in both the 100 and 200 breast, recording the Conference’s fifth fastest time in the 200 this season. Amanda Casillas proved to be one of the league’s most consistent divers this season. She placed second in the three-meter against Denver (290.03) and third at the USAF Invite (311.55), which had over 55 competitors in the event.
ARIZONA STATE’s women’s squad wrapped up the dual season with a 4-7 record, notching victories in the pool over UNLV, BYU, Oregon State and Utah. The Sun Devils feature one of this nation’s and Canada’s best divers in senior Hailey Casper. This year Casper placed second in the 3-meter Championships at the 2015 Winter National Canadian Diving Championships.
OREGON STATE went 2-12 in dual play, with their only victories coming against non-conference opponents Seattle Liberty and Idaho. Oregon State’s team losses came despite outstanding individual performances, particularly from junior standout Sammy Harrison, who recorded the Conference’s second fastest time in the 1000 free this year and finishing the year winning multiple events in each of the Beavers’ last three meets.
WASHINGTON STATE ended the dual season with a 6-3 dual record and bounced back from a tough Pac-12 season a year ago when they finished 3-6. The Cougars closed the year out on a six-game dual meet winning streak. Senior Nicole Proulx, a freestyle specialist, will play a key role as one of WSU’s leading swimmers.
PAC-12 MEN’S DIVING CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
The men’s diving competition is set to feature some of the top talent in the nation. STANFORD standout and Olympic medalist Kristian Ipsen, another top returner in the Pac-12, will try and defend his 1-meter championship from last year’s event. ARIZONA STATE freshman David Hoffer came in and found immediate success taking Pac-12 diver of the month twice and will compete alongside his teammate, and last year’s platform champion Luke Clohessy. ARIZONA junior Rafael Quintero,will look for a win after placing in the top three in in all three diving categories at last years championships. The rest of the field has plenty of talent to challenge the reigning champions, including USC’s Collin Pollard, who placed first in the 1-meter and at the competitive Bruin Diving Invitational. Other notable talent includes UTAH’s Jacob Crayne, the 1-meter winner US Air Force Academy Invitational.