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No. 19 UCLA Notches Last-Second Win Over USC, 151-148

Feb 13, 2021

Day 1 Results | Day 2 Results

LOS ANGELES – The No. 19-ranked UCLA swim and dive team captured a dramatic win over crosstown rival USC on Saturday afternoon, clinching the 151-148 victory on the final relay of the two-day meet.

The final competition of the 2020-21 regular season for both programs, the decision represented the first dual-meet win for the Bruins (2-1) over the Trojans (0-2) since 2007.

"The defining factor, when it came down to it, was the amount of heart and belief on this team," said UCLA head coach Jordan Wolfrum. "The whole meet was back-and-forth with exceptionally fast racing on both sides of the pool, but there was an 'it' factor with our team this weekend – the energy was exceptional, we were loud and proud – and it was the result of a really challenging year where they've all being grinding together. It was nice to see them have a little reward for the work they've put in this season."

The two teams battled to a 144-138 score in USC's favor over the first 15 events of the weekend, meaning that the victor of the meet would come down to the final event – the 400 free relay.

The decisive race was extremely close throughout, with UCLA maintaining a small lead over the first two legs before Kaitlyn Dobler split a 48.29 on the third to put USC ahead by a quarter-second going into the anchor leg.

From there, junior Claire Grover flew off the blocks and swam her first 50 yards in 22.60 – the best 50 yard split of any swimmer during the relay – to take the lead by a fraction of a second heading into the home stretch. With USC's Anicka Delgado hot on her heels, Grover held on for the win, touching in 3:15.80, just 0.04 ahead of USC's 3:15.84.

Grover's anchor split of 48.04 set a new best time for her in the 100 free – shattering her previous PR of 48.74 – and was the fastest split of anyone in the relay.

Her heroics were set up by a pair of clutch wins from Bruin freshmen.

After USC won the first three events on Saturday, Greta Fanta got things turned around for UCLA by swimming a collegiate-best 4:51.61 to win the 500 free. Sophomores Stephanie Su (4:53.78) and Daniella Hawkins (4:54.14) placed 3-4 to capture critical points for UCLA.

In the next event, Sam Baron set a PR in the 100 fly (52.18) to capture another win for the Bruins and clip into the deficit. Sophomore Gabby Dang (52.82) was runner-up in that event, helping the Bruins pull within one point heading into the final two events.

The Trojans won the penultimate event – the 200 IM – to extend their lead but juniors Ella Kirschke (1:57.69) and Delaney Smith (1:58.63) placed 2-3 to mitigate the damage and set up the 400 free relay dramatics.

UCLA and USC ended the first day of competition tied at 84-84, with the Trojans taking five events compared to the Bruins' four.

The Bruins looked to have been gifted a big win in the meet's opening event when USC was DQ'd in the 200 medley relay, but that decision was later overturned and the Trojans picked up the full 11 points.

Kirschke secured the first win of the weekend for the Bruins in the 200 free, recording a B cut and season-best time at 1:46.15.

Sophomore Sophia Kosturos followed up with a season-best time to win the 100 back (54.05), one of three Bruins to finish at 55 seconds or below. Later on, Baron clinched the 200 fly (1:55.66) to give her a sweep in the butterfly events, a career-first.  

Grover capped day one with a 22.55 in the 50 free, once again edging out Delgado (22.60) for first place.

The diving portion of the meet was highlighted by a 2-3 finish in 1M by sophomore Hannah Butler (282.10) and Katie Shaheen (249.40).

Shaheen ultimately ended up in third-place for all three diving events, and was UCLA's top finisher in 3M (250.40) and platform (226.80), the latter of which was not counted in the dual scoring.

After a week off, the Bruins begin postseason competition with the 2021 Pac-12 Championships from Feb. 24-27. The Swimming Championships will be held in Houston, Tex. on the campus of the University of Houston, while the Diving Championships will take place at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.

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