Feb. 3, 2009

Courtesy of Stanford Athletics

STANFORD, Calif. - In a meet that was not decided until the last few events, the No. 2 Stanford women's swimming and diving team (19-0, 6-0 Pac-10) pulled away late for a 163-137 victory over No. 12 USC (5-1, 4-1) in a Pacific-10 Conference dual meet held at the Avery Aquatic Center. The meet was contested in a 25-yard short course format, and featured 14 swimming and two diving events.

With today's victory, the Cardinal women have won 18 straight Pac-10 dual meets, and have defeated 40 of its last 41 opponents in head-to-head competition. Stanford is also undefeated in its last 16 home dual meets.

Prior to the first event, Stanford honored its five seniors competing in their final home meet - swimmers Andrea Axtell, Caroline Bruce, Madeline Rovira and Laura Wadden, along with diver Sarah Ohr. Through their first three seasons, this quintet has combined for 18 All-America honors, two individual NCAA championships and eight individual Pac-10 titles, while helping the Cardinal improve one spot each year at the NCAAs - from fifth in 2006 to fourth in 2007 and third in 2008.

Today's meet was tightly contested throughout, with USC holding a 116-110 advantage after 12 events. However, Stanford outscored the Trojans 53-21 over the final four events to remain undefeated.

The late Cardinal charge began in the 13th event - the 100 fly - when Stanford finished first, second and fourth. Junior Elaine Breeden won with a NCAA "B" standard time of 53.22, followed by fellow juniors Kelley Hug (54.24) and Nilasha Ghosh (55.51).

Following a 15-minute break, Stanford used its Olympic duo of junior Julia Smit and Breeden, along with standout sophomore Liz Smith, to sweep the top three spots of the 200 IM. All three posted solid NCAA "B" times, with Smit touching first in 1:58, Smith placing second (2:00.18) and Breeden finishing third (2:00.47).

In the final swimming event, Stanford sealed its victory behind a winning performance of its "A" 400 free relay. Sophomore Kate Dwelley, freshman Betsy Webb, Rovira and Smit won with a "B" time of 3:21.76, while the "B" relay of junior Whitney Spence, Ghosh, Hug and freshman Jessica Rodriquez added the final points with a third-place finish (3:26.55).

Stanford relied heavily on its sprint freestyle swimmers today, winning all three events. Dwelley earned the first Cardinal victory of the day by winning the 200 free with a "B" time of 1:47.44, before finishing first in the 100 free with a "B" standard of 49.67. Freshman Sam Woodward finished second to Dwelley in both events (1:48.67 and 49.80), but won the 50 free with a time of 22.79. That effort led a Cardinal sweep of the top three spots, as Webb placed second (23.30) and Rovira finished third (23.54). Rovira also logged a fourth-place time of 51.01 in the 100 free.

The Cardinal victory would not have been possible without the contributions of its divers, who took three of the top five spots in both competitions. Sophomore Meg Hostage won the 1-meter with a season-high score of 281.25, which was also well above the "A" Zone qualifying standard. Ohr (263.85) and junior Carmen Stellar (257.33) each recorded "B" Zone scores to finish third and fourth, respectively. Cardinal divers then finished second through fourth in the meet's 14th event - the 3-meter competition. Stellar led the way with a "A" score of 291.06, while Hostage was third ("B" 277.05) and freshman Mary Beth Corbett was fourth ("B" 273.68).

Stanford also received individual scoring efforts from Spence (3rd - 16:43.22) and freshman Angela Duckworth (4th - 17:07.51) in the 1,650 free; Rodriquez (5th - 1::51.18) in the 200 free; Smit (2nd - "B" 53.72), Webb (3rd - "B" 54.82) and Hug (5th - 55.98) in the 100 back; Smith (3rd - 1:03.14) and Caroline Bruce (4th - 1:03.90) in the 100 breast; Wadden (5th - 2:02.22) in the 200 fly; Wadden (2nd - 1:59.49), junior Meredith Ayres (4th - 2:03.05) and junior Michelle Liu (5th - 2:03.55) in the 200 back; Smith (2nd - 2:13.79) and freshman Jamie Bruce (4th - 2:16.70) in the 200 breast; and Dwelley (2nd - 4:51.08), Spence (3rd - 4:52.52) and Rodriquez (4th - 4:53.88) in the 500 free.

In perhaps the most exciting race of the day, Breeden finished second in the 200 fly with an "A" standard time of 1:45.50 - a mere .24-second behind USC's Katinka Hosszu.