In the first tri-meet of the season, multiple freshmen found a place on the podium.
UCLA swim and dive (1-0) traveled to USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center to compete Friday and Saturday in its first tri-meet of the 2021 season against Arizona (1-1) and the host USC. The meet came a week after UCLA secured a victory in its first meet of the season against Fresno State.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, UCLA’s swimmers competed safely, recording the top time in eight of 17 events throughout the tri-meet.
Of the eight, several Bruin freshmen earned event wins, including swimmer Sam Baron – who had a pair of first-place finishes in both the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly events. A two-time Washington state champion before arriving in Westwood, Baron attributed much of her performance to the team culture.
“My teammates have really helped, and I helped them in fly, and it gives me more confidence in my butterfly,” Baron said. “I’ve been given more opportunities to focus on my fly events at practice, which helped me build my confidence in my events.”
In addition to Baron’s performances, fellow freshman Greta Fanta finished first and second in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,000-yard freestyle, respectively. She too attributed her motivation to coach Jordan Wolfrum’s approach and mindset concerning the season and racing.
“With each opportunity we’re given as a team, we have to give it our 100%, because we don’t know how many more opportunities to race we’ll be given,” Fanta said.
Wolfrum said she is pleased by the freshman class for its mindset, determination and willingness to succeed.
“I think that our entire freshman class has handled (the transition to college and new COVID-19 restrictions) like absolute champs,” Wolfrum said. “They’ve got high goals. They have high standards, and they like to compete.”
Several of the returning UCLA swimmers finished at the top of the podium, including junior Claire Grover in the 50-yard freestyle and sophomore Gabby Dang in the 100-yard backstroke.
The meet was not scored in the traditional fashion, with only individual event times being recorded, as opposed to team totals. In addition, the tri-meet included no diving events.
Wolfrum said the change in scoring had no effect on her team’s game plan, and the Bruins were thankful and focused on another opportunity to race and compete.
“It didn’t change anything about how we approached the meet,” Wolfrum said. “Other than that, (it) gave us a chance to really focus.”
UCLA is slated to continue its shortened season next weekend with a trip up to Avery Aquatic Center to face Stanford in its next dual meet.