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Bruins Set Pair of School Records in USC Dual

Feb 12, 2022
Ella Kirschke (photo: Don Liebig)

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA swim and dive team battled No. 11 USC over a two-day dual meet at Spieker Aquatics Center this weekend, enduring a 242-130 loss but setting a pair of school records, logging five event wins, and racking up a slew of best times and NCAA B Cuts.

Five separate Bruins recorded individual event wins over the course of the meet, including sophomore Sam Baron (200 fly), senior Claire Grover (50 free), freshman Paige MacEachern (400 IM), junior Gabby Dang (100 fly), and junior Hannah Butler (1-meter diving).

UCLA set program records in both the 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay, notching one new school-record on both Friday and Saturday. The Bruins opened the meet by posting a new program standard in the 400 medley relay at 3:33.17 (besting the previous time of 3:33.81), then followed that up with a 1:36.72 in the 200 medley relay on Saturday (previous record was 1:36.92).

The record-setting relay squads were mostly the same, with junior Sophia Kosturos swimming the backstroke, freshman Eva Carlson handing the breaststroke, and Grover anchoring freestyle. Baron swam the butterfly in the 400 medley, with Dang handling the 200 medley.

In the first individual event of the weekend, MacEachern paced the Bruins with a third-place finish in the 1650 free (16:45.06).

UCLA picked up plenty of points in the 200 free thanks to a 2-3-4 finish from Rachel Rhee (1:47.06), Ella Kirschke (1:47.70), and Delaney Smith (1:48.66). All three times were season-bests, with Rhee's representing a new best time and an NCAA B Cut.

Butler secured a runner-up finish in the first diving event of the meet – 3M. She posted a score of 289.95, not far behind winner Madison Huitt (299.63) of USC.

Kosturos (53.62) was the Bruins' top finisher in the 100 back, notching a season-best time and an NCAA B Cut to take third. Mia Chang (54.76) also went a season-best to take fifth.

The 100 breast was highlighted by freshman Ana Jih-Schiff (1:01.83), who went a best time to secure her first NCAA B Cut of the season in that event. Carlson (1:01.00) was UCLA's top finisher, taking fourth and logging a B Cut of her own.

The 200 fly brought UCLA's first event win of the weekend, with Baron (1:56.47) beating out the field by nearly two seconds. It was also a season-best for Baron and an NCAA B Cut.

Grover (22.13) had a standout sprint in the 50 free to score a second consecutive event win for UCLA. Her time was a season-best and almost certainly secures her a spot at the 2022 NCAA Championships. Dang (22.88) and Maddie Wright (22.94, best time) also scored for the Bruins.

Ella Kirschke was UCLA's top racer in the 200 IM beating the two-minute mark (1:59.85) to take third.

Butler (298.05) and freshman Zoe Jespersgaard (279.08) wrapped up day one of the competition with a 1-2 finish in the 1M.

Day two of the meet opened up with UCLA's record-setting performance in the 200 medley relay. They finished just over a second behind USC's winning quartet.

The first individual event of Saturday – the 400 IM – was arguably UCLA's best collectively as Bruins placed four of the top-five swimmers. MacEachern (4:15.01) touched first but Kirschke (4:15.74), Katrina Sommer (4:20.52, best time), and Emma Matous (4:28.04, season-best) all had notable performances as well.

Grover went a best time of 48.62 to take second place in the 100 free, and she was followed closely by Kosturos (49.08), who logged a season-best and an NCAA B Cut. Rachel Rhee (49.61) just missed out on scoring but did post a season-best time.

The 200 backstroke was highlighted for UCLA by top-finisher Delaney Smith (1:58.68, third) and Abriana Howard (1:58.05, season-best).

Jih-Schiff picked up another best time in the breaststroke on Saturday, going a 2:12.37 to lead UCLA and pick up an NCAA B Cut.

Stephanie Su (4:55.70, third) and Taylor Schaffer (5:02.77) each had season-best times in the 500 free, with the latter also setting a new lifetime-best.

Dang brought home another win for UCLA by posting a best time of 52.35 in the 100 fly, which was also an NCAA B Cut. Baron (52.72) also had a season-best time and a B Cut.

The Bruins wrapped the two-day meet with a 3:16.08 in the 400 free relay, the best of any UCLA quartet so far this season.

UCLA is next in action at the 2022 Pac-12 Championships, which run from Feb. 23-26.

Follow @UCLASwimAndDive on Twitter for all team updates.