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Bruins Finish First at UNLV Invite

Dec 19, 2021
Delaney Smith (photo: Harry Bugarin)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The UCLA swim team finished in first place by a wide margin over a five-school field at the 2021 UNLV Swim Invitational this weekend, posting a score of 1,322 and winning 15 of 19 events overall.

The host Rebels (1,055.5) were the only other squad to finish above the thousand-point mark.

UCLA won all five relay races, and received individual wins from seven different swimmers. Senior Delaney Smith (200 IM, 200 free), senior Claire Grover (50 free, 100 free), and junior Sophia Kosturos (100 fly, 100 IM) all logged multiple individual event wins.

The Bruins are next in action on Saturday, Jan. 8, hosting UC San Diego in a dual meet at Spieker Aquatics Center.

1. UCLA - 1,322.0
2. UNLV - 1,055.5
3. Pacific - 517.5
4. Fresno Pacific - 192
5. The Master's University - 161


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 101.5-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

The UCLA swim team continued its dominant outing at the 2021 UNLV Swim Invitational on Saturday, winning six of seven events and increasing its lead to 909-697.5 over the second-place Rebels.

Through two days of competition, the Bruins have won 10 of 12 events, including all four relays.

UCLA started the Saturday finals session by taking home a win in the 200 medley relay, with the Bruin As posting a time of 1:37.86 (the best time for UCLA in that event so far this year). The UCLA Bs weren't far behind, taking third-place with a time of 1:41.38.

The Bruins had just one racer compete in the 400 IM in senior Ella Kirschke, but that was all UCLA would need to take the win as Kirschke beat out the field in the finals at 4:18.22. It was her best time in that event this season.

Junior Sophia Kosturos (53.73) captured a win in the 100 fly for the Bruins, heading a four-Bruin A Final that also featured strong performances from sophomore Crystal Murphy (54.11, second), junior Brooke Schaffer (55.47, sixth), and freshman Ana Jih-Schiff (55.85, eighth). Jih-Schiff notched a best time in the 100 fly during prelims (55.06), while freshman Ashley Stenstrom went a personal-best 57.11 in the finals to earn 13th place.

The Bruins went 1-2-3 and placed five swimmers in the A Final of the 200 free finals, including podium finishes from senior Delaney Smith (1:48.73), sophomore Sam Baron (personal-best 1:49.77), and sophomore Maddie Wright (1:51.21). Junior Lauryn Johnson (1:52.38, fifth) and sophomore Maya Wilson (1:53.78) rounded out the A final contingent.

Freshman Eva Carlson (1:00.90) and Jih-Schiff (1:02.14) placed 1-2 in the 100 breast finals to give UCLA another win. The 100 breast was a dominant event for the Bruins, who made up half of the top-10 finishers and seven of the top-12. Sophomore Maddie Smith (1:05.24) posted a PB to take 12th place.

UNLV's Kate Afanasyeva picked up the win in the 100 back to deny a Saturday sweep for UCLA, but the Bruins had the next five finishers in that race and all but two of the competitors in the A Final. UCLA was led in the 100 back by runner-up Gabby Dang (54.02) and third-place finisher Katrina Sommer (55.21), who both notched best times.

The Bruins closed out Saturday with a first-place result in the 800 free relay at 7:19.16. Kirschke led off with a 1:48.52 for UCLA to record the fastest split of any swimmer in the race.

UCLA wraps up the UNLV Invite on Sunday, with scheduled events to include the 1650 free, 100 IM, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, and 400 free relay.

1. UCLA - 909.0
2. UNLV - 697.5
3. Pacific - 361.5
4. The Master's University - 126
5. Fresno Pacific - 111


UCLA closed the UNLV Invite on Sunday by winning five of seven events and cementing a first-place finish for the weekend. The Bruins ended the weekend with a team score of 1,322.0, nearly a 300-point margin over the runner-up Rebels (1,055.5).

The Sunday finals session started off with a comfortable win in the 1650 free for junior Stephanie Su (17:02.60), who finished over 45 seconds quicker than the runner-up.

The Bruins then had a dominant showing in the 100 IM, finishing 1-2-3-4 and placing six racers in the A Final. Kosturos (55.15) was the first-place finisher in the event, followed by Baron (55.55), Kirschke (56.34), and Murphy (57.39).

Sommer (2:00.90, third) was UCLA's top finisher in the 200 back, while MacEachern (2:01.38) notched a best time to take fourth.

The 100 free was another Bruin-dominated event, with 11 swimmers reaching the finals heats. Grover (49.39) paced the field in the A Final, which included four Bruins overall, and Carlson (51.36) went a best time to win the B Final. Grover, who also posted a season-best 49.16 during prelims, recorded her first two NCAA B Cuts of the season in the 100 free on Sunday.

Jih-Schiff capped off a strong weekend with her first individual event win of the invite in the 200 breast, posting a best time (2:14.44) to beat out the field. Herbert (2:15.83) placed third while Delaney Smith (2:18.62, fifth) and senior Emily Lo (2:18.82, seventh) also reached the A Final. Freshman Emma Matous (2:19.87) won the B Final of the 200 breast.

A third-place finish from Dang (2:02.76) highlighted the 200 fly – the final individual event of the weekend – for UCLA. She posted a personal-best 2:01.83 in prelims to reach the A Final.

The meet was closed out by a dominant UCLA performance in the 400 free relay, with the Bruins placing 1-3-4. The UCLA As paced the field at 3:18.16, the team's best time in that event this year. Grover's anchor leg of 48.71 was the fastest of any swimmer in the field. The Bruins As had three swimmers turn in sub-50 second splits – only other swimmer in the race accomplished that feat.