LOS ANGELES, California, February 3. THE No. 16 UCLA women's swim and dive team stepped up for probably their best performance thus far this season, defeating the 14th-ranked Trojans at USC's home pool, 152-148. The meet was hotly contested all day long, with both UCLA and USC changing leads several times, but it all came down to the 200 Free Relay where winner took all, and the winner was UCLA. The Bruins picked up five Lexus Gauntlet points in the win.
The Bruins improve to 7-4 and 3-3 in Pac-10 competition and head into the post-season riding a huge wave of momentum as all sides of UCLA's team stepped up in today's win. The Bruins saw incredible success in diving with sweeps on both one-meter and three-meter, while in the pool, the Bruins swept the 50 Freestyle.
With USC up by one point heading into the final event of the meet, the 200 Free Relay, the Bruins had to win to capture the dual meet title, and they did as they led throughout the race, finishing in a time of 1:31.99.
"This was a great meet," said Head Coach Cyndi Gallagher. "Both teams stepped up, swam fast and made it exciting all the way through the meet. Our divers did great and we had a lot of swimmers step up in a big way today. We had huge performances from Katie Arnold, Anna Poteete, Katie Nelson and Jane Imagane. Our freshmen really did well too, especially Ashley Anlauf and Isabel Fischer.
"The relay started it off and then Nelson and Jane's performance in the 1650 really fired the team up."
The 200 Medley Relay team opened up the meet with the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA this season, 1:40.17.
Nelson and Imagane then kept it rolling with impressive performances in the mile. Nelson won the event, swimming the eighth-fastest time in the NCAA this season, 16:25.95, while Imagane, who trailed for the majority of the race, went all out on the final leg to finish second overall with a lifetime-best 16:30.04. Her time moved her to 17th in the NCAA this season.
Arnold had a huge day, winning both the 100 Backstroke and 50 Freestyle. Her time of 54.13 was an automatic NCAA qualifier, and her win in the 50 Free (23.13) led a Bruin sweep in that event.
Poteete, who was second in the 50 Free (23.20), won the 100 Freestyle in a time of 50.58.
In the 200 Fly, Shannon Hackett (2:02.05), Isabel Miesner (2:02.17) and Hope Thurman (2:04.06) all swam lifetime-bests as they finished second, third and fourth, respectively.
Chiemi Yamamoto swam the No. 22 time in the NCAA this season with her second-place swim in the 400 IM (4:17.55).
In diving action, the Bruins were unstoppable as they swept through both one-meter and three-meter with seniors Sara Clark and Amanda Blong each posting an individual win in the final dual meet of their careers.
Blong won 1M with a score of 271.49, while Clark was second with 269.55. Marisa Samaniego rounded out the top-three with her score of 265.12.
On 3M, Clark won with a score of 301.65, while Blong was second with 269.55. Samaniego again rounded out the top-three with her score of 266.77.
"We were very good today," said Dive Coach Tom Stebbins. "We finished how we thought we would and for the most part, we did a good job competing. We made lots of errors, but I'm encouraged by the quality of those errors. We can correct those next week before Pac-10's and hopefully get a good lead for the swimmers at the conference meet.
"This was a testament to all of the hard work these girls have put in all season long and we are really looking forward to the post-season." "I don't see why all three of them (Blong, Clark and Samaniego) can't be ultra competitive on both boards next week at Pac-10's. I've had more fun coaching this year then any other year, and that's in part to Sara and Amanda. It's great to see them both come away with wins today."
The divers will head to Pac-10's in Federal Way, WA next week, while the swimmers will compete at the conference meet in Long Beach, CA the following week as the post-season begins.