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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Finnegan finishes first

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

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 meet, Finnegan kicked it into turbo speed.

“I couldn’t see [Mack] at all,” Finnegan said. “I didn’t breathe. 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 Wildcat women’s swimming and diving team to a 142-139 victory over the Bruins on Friday, Nov. 8.

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 12 of 14 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 nine 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. She doesn’t expect the 1750 yards she swam this meet to have an effect on her performance against USC on Saturday.

“I’m tired currently, but tomorrow I don’t think it will have that much of an effect on me,” Brandon said. “It’s never easy, but tomorrow I don’t have the 1000 so things will be a little easier.”

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 Hajdinak 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 Cyndi Gallagher, UCLA’s head coach. “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, coach DeMont emphasized the unity that the team has as a whole.

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

The Wildcats turn around to join the men’s team Saturday, Nov. 9, as they take on USC at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center at 1 p.m.

— Follow Nicole Cousins @cousinnicole

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