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UCLA at the UNLV Invite - Day 1

Dec 17, 2021
Delaney Smith (photo: Harry Bugarin)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The UCLA swim team got off to a hot start on day one of the 2021 UNLV Swim Invitational, winning four of five scheduled events and jumping out to a 95.5-point lead over the field.

The Bruins started the first finals session of the weekend with a solid showing in the 200 free relay, taking the first and third-place spots led by a 1:29.92 from the A relay squad of junior Sophia Kosturos, junior Brooke Schaffer, senior Claire Grover, and junior Gabby Dang. At 21.86, Grover's split – the penultimate leg– was the fastest of any swimmer in the race.

Schaffer paced the Bruins in the 500 free – the lone event UCLA didn't win on Friday – with a personal-best time of 4:57.22, good for fifth place. Junior Stephanie Su (5:00.16) just missed the five-minute mark to take sixth place, and senior Katie Sulkevich (5:06.75) also reached the A Final, taking seventh. Freshman Emma Matous set back-to-back PBs in the 500 free, including a 5:07.12 in the finals to take 14th.

UCLA had a dominant showing in the 200 IM, as the Bruins finished 1-2-3 and had all but one of the competitors in the eight-person A Final. Senior Delaney Smith paced the field in the 200 IM finals at 1:58.51, and she was joined on the podium by teammates senior Ella Kirschke (1:59.20) and freshman Ana Jih-Schiff (2:00.06), the latter who recorded a personal-best time. Freshman Paige MacEachern (2:00.92) also recorded a PB to take fifth place, and she was followed in succession by freshman Mia Chang (2:03.58), sophomore Crystal Murphy (2:05.16), and freshman Bailey Herbert (2:08.34). Katrina Sommer's 2:02.68 was good enough to win the B Final, while Murphy (2:03.27) and freshman Joanie Cash (2:12.86) both set new best times during prelims.

The Bruins had a similarly strong showing in the 50 free finals, with UCLA swimmers making up half the A Final, and a Bruin winning each of the three finals heats. Grover (22.41) edged out her previous season-best to win the race overall, and Kosturos (22.60) set a new personal-best to take runner-up and record her first B Cut in the 50 free this year. Dang (23.05) and junior Rachel Rhee (23.33) also made the A Final, while sophomore Sam Baron (23.27) and freshman Eva Carlson (23.90) won the B and C Finals, respectively.

UCLA finished up day one with a first-place result in the 400 medley relay at 3:37.72.

1. UCLA - 405.0
2. UNLV - 303.5
3. Pacific - 134.5
4. The Master's University - 62
5. Fresno Pacific - 50