Saturday, April 13

UCLA swim and dive to compete in its last-ever Pac-12 championship


UCLA swim and dive athletes huddle up. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)


The Bruins are headed to their last-ever Pac-12 championship.

UCLA swim and dive (5-4, 3-4 Pac-12) will compete in the multi-day meet format from Wednesday to Saturday in Federal Way, Washington. The field will consist of seven other Pac-12 teams, three of which rank top-10 nationally – No. 4 USC (9-0, 6-0), No. 5 Stanford (6-2, 4-2) and No. 7 California (7-1, 5-1).

The bout will mark the Bruins’ last in the conference before moving to the Big Ten. Coach Jordan Wolfrum said the finale adds an additional layer of emotion to the athletes.

“Whatever you do here is kind of stamped in history,” Wolfrum said. “And that gives it a little extra something special. If you can win an event, or make a final, or get on the podium, it’s the last one of those and it will live in the history books forever and ever.”

UCLA competed against three of its upcoming opponents in dual meets this season, where each affair was decided by 30 points or less in the opposing squads’ favor.

Junior Ana Jih-Schiff said the narrow finish of the meets gives the team confidence.

“Even though they are ranked top-10 and ranked ahead of us, I think the rankings don’t matter that much,” Jih-Schiff said. “It still goes to show that if we all put in a lot of work, and we all do our individual parts and pieces of the meet, then we can end up having a good turnout at the end.”

Under Wolfrum, the Bruins have consistently placed in the top-four at the Pac-12 championships, including last year when they took fourth overall.

Wolfrum said her goal for the team is to get better year by year.

“We have a team goal to score more points than we did last year,” Wolfrum said. “To hold or move up in our team position. We finished fourth last year. Top-four finish is always the goal.”

For some athletes, such as freshman Sarah Bennetts, the last Pac-12 championship will also be their first.

“I’m really excited for it,” Bennetts said. “I’m a little nervous, but I think it’s going to be really cool to be a part of.”

Olympic swim trials are looming on the horizon. That said, since the Pac-12 championship format is in short course yards, and the Olympic Trial time qualifications are in long course meters, swimmers cannot obtain qualification times during the Pac-12 championship meet.

Wolfrum said there will be a last-chance meet on Sunday where swimmers can swim in meters to try for trial cuts, but the team isn’t focused on that.

“The fact that this is a short course championship gives it this kind of isolated little bubble where the only thing we are focused on is the team race, Pacs and NCAAs,” Wolfrum said. “We really get to focus on this specifically, and I think that gives it both some freedom to go race as a team as opposed to individuals and also a real dialed-in focus on this specific meet.”

Sports contributor

Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.


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