UCLA Finishes Third at Pac-12s, Highest Since 2006
SATURDAY, FEB. 27
HOUSTON, Texas. – The No. 19-ranked UCLA swim & dive team secured a third-place overall finish at the 2021 Pac-12 Swimming & Diving Championships with a strong performance on the fourth and final day of the league meet. The third-place finish is the highest for the program at Pac-12s since the 2006 squad which finished runner-up.
The Bruins finished the meet with 14 individual A qualifiers, including a team-high three for junior Claire Grover. In addition, UCLA had the podium finishes in both the 400 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
Notably, freshman Sam Baron broke a school record in the 100 fly on Friday (51.65) en route to a runner-up finish in that race.
"I'm really pleased with how we performed as a team this week," said UCLA head coach Jordan Wolfrum. "It wasn't easy, especially with losing a huge chunk of training and not knowing whether or not this meet was even going to happen up until three weeks ago. But we knew the whole time that our goal was to have a great team finish and do our best in this moment. I'm unbelievably proud of this team and how we fought together to make this happen."
Entering Saturday with a solid lead over fourth-place USC, the Bruins only built on their lead over the course of the day after having six swimmers qualify for A Finals over five individual events.
The finals session started with a trio of Bruins finishing in the top-eight of the 1650 free, led by sophomore Stephanie Su who posted a lifetime-best 16:30.09 to finish fourth. Freshman Greta Fanta (16:41.43) also finished top-five while junior Katie Sulkevich tallied key points for the Bruins with an eighth-place result (16:48.11).
Junior Abriana Howard followed up in the 200 back by reaching her first career A Final, touching in 1:56.33 to place seventh. A trio of Bruins qualified for the 200 back consolation final, including junior Delaney Smith who was runner-up (10th overall) at 1:55.88.
Grover reached her third and final A Final of the week in the 100 free, placing sixth overall with a time of 49.12.
Junior Emily Lo was the Bruins' top swimmer in the 200 breast, taking 11th place with a season-best time of 2:14.21.
Fresh off her standout performance in the 100 fly, Baron notched another top-five butterfly finish after placing fourth in the 200 fly at 1:56.77. Four UCLA swimmers made the consolation final of that race, including 10th-place finisher Crystal Murphy (2:00.52).
Final Team Point Totals
1. California, 1519.5
2. Stanford, 1445.0
3. UCLA, 1169.0
4. USC, 1006.0
5. Utah, 951.5
6. Arizona, 827.0
7. Washington State, 533.0
FRIDAY, FEB. 26
Freshman Sam Baron set a school record in the 100 fly and junior Claire Grover recorded her third consecutive top-five finish in the 100 breast to highlight UCLA's third day of action at the 2021 Pac-12 Swimming & Diving Championships.
Baron, who was the seventh-place finisher in the 100 fly prelims, dropped over a second from her prelim time and over a half-second from her previous lifetime-best at 51.65.
That time bested the previous UCLA program record of 51.89, set in 2014 by Ting Wen Quah. It was also the first new individual school record in any event since 2019 (Sandra Soe, 1000 free).
Sophomore Gabby Dang joined Baron in the 100 fly A Final, UCLA's first event with multiple swimmers in the top final so far at this year's league meet. Dang ultimately placed sixth with a time of 52.58. It was her first career A Final at Pac-12s.
Grover – who has already reached the podium twice so far at this year's Pac-12s, in the 50 free and 400 medley relay – narrowly missed out another top-three finish, placing fourth in the 100 breast at 59.53. That time was a season-best and just three-hundredths of a second off her lifetime best. It was also the third consecutive top-five finish in the 100 breast for Grover at Pac-12s, following her third-place result as a freshman in 2019 and fifth-place effort in 2020.
Shaheen reached the platform finals via a 224.90 score in prelims, then matched her season-high score in the finals (229.20) to finish in seventh. It was Shaheen's second career A Final, and first on tower. Aurora Huxman (211.95, 11th) and Hannah Butler (151.75, 16th) both reached the platform consolation final, with Huxman logging a season-best score in the process. The divers were competing in Tucson, Ariz. at the University of Arizona.
Schaffer posted a lifetime-best 1:47.19 in 200 free prelims to reach her first career A Final. She responded with a 1:47.69 in the finals to take eighth place.
UCLA had three swimmers win consolation finals on Friday. Juniors Ella Kirschke (4:13.83) and Delaney Smith (4:14.30) were the top-two finishers in the 400 IM consolation finals to record top-10 results. Sophomore Rachel Rhee (1:01.49) was the winner of the 100 breast consolation final, and Sophia Kosturos (season-best 53.26) touched first in the 100 back consolation final.
The Bruins closed day three with a four-place result in the 200 medley relay, with the UCLA A team of Kosturos, Grover, Baron, and Schaffer touching in 1:37.99.
UCLA concludes the 2021 Pac-12 Swimming & Diving Championships on Saturday, with prelims starting at 8:00 a.m. PT and finals getting underway at 4:00 p.m. PT. Scheduled events include the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, and 400 free relay.
THURSDAY, FEB. 25
UCLA placed two swimmers in A Finals over four individual events on Thursday in the second day of the Pac-12 Championships, including a runner-up finish for junior Claire Grover in the 50 free.
Grover, who finished it a three-way tie for second place with a season-best time of 22.24, reached the 50 free podium at Pac-12s for the second time in her career. She was the third-place finisher at the 2019 league meet after recording a UCLA freshman program record time of 21.98. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native has reached the A Final of the 50 free in each of three collegiate seasons.
Fellow junior Delaney Smith also made an A Final, finishing seventh overall in the 200 IM with a season-best time of 1:58.47. It was Smith's second consecutive A Final at the league championship.
The Bruins started the second day of the Pac-12 Championships with three divers making the consolation final of the 3-meter diving championship, which took place in Tucson, Ariz. Sophomore Hannah Butler was runner-up in the consolation final, giving her another top-10 finish at Pac-12s after she placed sixth in 1M on Wednesday.
Butler posted a 303.15 in the 3M finals, marking the first time this season she surpassed the 300.00 point mark. It was also less than four points off her collegiate-best.
Sophomore Stephanie Su (season-best 4:49.58) was the Bruins' top finisher in the 500 free, placing fifth in the consolation final and 13th overall.
Junior Ella Kirschke also had a strong performance in the 200 IM, winning the consolation final with an B cut at 1:57.85. Freshman Sam Baron (2:00.21, 12th) and junior Abriana Howard (2:00.77, 14th) also reached the 200 IM consolation final.
Sophomores Sophia Kosturos (22.90, 15th) and Gabby Dang (22.95) both qualified for the 50 free consolation final, providing pivotal points for UCLA. Freshman Nora Clarkowski made the bonus final for the 50 free after winning a swim-off following a tie for the final spot in preliminaries.
The Bruins closed day two of Pac-12s with a fifth-place finish in the 200 free relay, with Grover, Kosturos, Dang, and Brooke Schaffer touching in 1:30.02, dropping four-hundredths of a second off the squad's previous season-best time in that relay.
The Pac-12 Championships continue on Friday with platform diving, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, and the 200 medley relay.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 24
No. 19 UCLA recorded its best finish in the 400 medley relay in over 20 years and sophomore diver Hannah Butler reached the 1-meter diving finals to highlight the Bruins' first day of action at the Pac-12 Swimming & Diving Championships.
Butler started off the day for UCLA by posting a score of 274.50 in the 1M prelims to reach the finals for the second consecutive year at the Pac-12 Diving Championships, being held this year in Tucson, Ariz. on the campus of the University of Arizona.
She went on to log a 278.30 in the finals to end up in sixth place. Elsewhere in 1M diving, sophomore Katie Shaheen finished 15th overall, and seventh in the consolation final with a score of 243.80. Freshman Aurora Huxman placed 19th with a 222.05 in the 1M prelims.
The swim portion of Pac-12s, being held in Houston, started off on Wednesday night with a pair of relays, the 800 free relay and 400 medley relay. The Bruins would go on to place top-four in both, including a third-place finish in the 400 medley relay. That represented the Bruins' first top-three finish in that event at the league championships since 2000 and the team's first podium in any relay since 2019 (200 free).
The third-place relay team consisted of sophomore Sophia Kosturos (53.84, backstroke), junior Claire Grover (59.91, breaststroke), freshman Sam Baron (51.71, butterfly), and junior Ella Kirschke (48.40, freestyle).
The Pac-12 Championships continue on Thursday with both swimming and diving events. Swim prelims start at 8:00 p.m. PT and finals start at 4:00 p.m. PT. In Arizona, 3M diving prelims start at 12:10 p.m. PT and finals start at 2:10 p.m. PT. Swim finals and all diving events can be streamed on the Pac-12 website or the Pac-12 Now app.