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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Swimming and diving beat UCLA, lose to USC

Rebecca+Noble%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ABonnie+Brandon+swims+the+backstroke+against+USC+on+Saturday+at+home.++
Rebecca Noble
Rebecca Noble/ The Daily Wildcat Bonnie Brandon swims the backstroke against USC on Saturday at home.

It was the most highly-anticipated 22.74 seconds of Gracie Finnegan’s Friday.

The 21-year-old senior dove into the pool at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, with 17-year-old freshman Linnea Mack of UCLA right on her toes. Knowing that these next 50 yards would determine the winner of the meet, Finnegan kicked it into turbo speed.

“I couldn’t see [Mack] at all. I didn’t breathe,” Finnegan said. “I just tried to get my hand on the wall first and luckily I did.”

Finnegan finished the 200-yard freestyle relay with a split time of 22.74, the fastest split of the event, to give Arizona a finishing time of 1:32.16, edging out UCLA’s A-relay team by three-hundredths of a second. The victory led the Wildcats to a 151-149 victory over the Bruins.

Finnegan didn’t have to think twice about what she needed to do. She had it in her head the second she stepped up on the block.

“It was so close, I was just standing there and it was a weird calm feeling like, I need to win this so we can win the meet and that’s what happened,” Finnegan said.

UA narrowly led UCLA through 10 of 16 events, before UCLA’s senior Anna Senko, junior Noelle Tarazona, and freshman Ashley Tse swept the 200y individual medley race. With the two diving events completed, the fate of the dual meet rested on the nail-biting 200y freestyle relay.

“I’m happy with how they competed, they competed real strongly,” said interim head coach Rick DeMont. “The relays at the end showed the heart of the team. We’ve got good heart, so I was really pleased with that.”

The 200y freestyle relay team, comprised of Finnegan, sophomore Taylor Schick, senior Alana Pazevic, and sophomore Bonnie Brandon, was one of 10 individual first-place victories for Arizona.

Brandon was a huge contributor for the Wildcats, also sweeping each of her individual events, the 1000y freestyle, 500y freestyle, and 200y backstroke.

Senior Margo Geer also dominated her events, placing first in the 50y, 100y, and 200y freestyle, in addition to helping her 200y medley relay team of Pazevic and sophomores Emma Schoettmer — who also swept both breaststroke events — and Katja Hajdinjak dominate the race.

UCLA showed promise in both the 100y and 200y butterfly events, with Tarazona and sophomore Katie Kinnear finishing 1-2 in the 200y butterfly, and sweeping the 100y race.

“We’ve always been kind of good at butterfly, I don’t know why,” said UCLA head coach Cyndi Gallagher. “But Arizona has a tradition of having a lot of great swimming and swimmers, especially with Bonnie [Brandon], Margo [Geer], and Emma [Schoettmer].”

While the three had stand-out performances Friday, DeMont emphasized the unity that the team has as a whole.

“They were very key components, but the team did good,” DeMont said. “That relay was impressive and we are proud of all of them.”

After the win on Friday, Arizona swimming and diving was swept by USC on Saturday. USC defeated the men’s team 172-128, and the women fell in a 167-133 decision.

Brandon, Geer, and Schoettmer each swept their individual events again on Saturday, recording the only eight individual victories for the women.

For the men, senior Giles Smith did in fact compete in Saturday’s race even though it looked like he was suspended. He placed first in the 100y butterfly and 50y freestyle. Smith finished the 50y freestyle in 19.99, earning him a top-five time in the nation for the event.

Joining Smith in individual event sweeps were junior Kevin Cordes — who won the 100y and 200y breaststroke events — and sophomore diver Rafael Quintero, who earned first in the 1-meter and 3m diving events.

— Follow Nicole Cousins @cousinnicole

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