Coach Bob Bowman doesn’t want Arizona State swimming to be a top-25 NCAA team.
He wants them to be an elite program in the top 10.
USC, a historically-great swim program with nine national championships, fell for the first time in Tempe since 2003 Friday. The Sun Devil men picked up the 184-109 victory by winning 12 of 14 events– exactly what the Trojans did to ASU last year in Los Angeles.
USC sophomore Victor Johansson, the reigning champion in the Pac-12 in the 500 freestyle, added nearly 30 seconds to his personal best, opening a window for ASU senior Ben Olszewski to step into the spotlight.
Olszewski, sporting a thin mustache over his lip, hadn’t won the 500 freestyle in a dual meet since the team travelled to Tallahassee to swim Florida State over a year ago. The Scottsdale native and Horizon alumnus took the 500 and 1000 freestyle in convincing fashion, and was one of four ASU swimmers to win two or more individual events.
The dominant #10 USC women’s team proved its worth Friday, though. Senior Louise Hansson, the NCAA champion in the 100 and 200 butterfly won both of her individual events- just as sophomore Isa Odgers, junior Marta Ciesla and senior Naomi Gowlett all did. The points added up for USC, as the Trojan women won 184-113.
Junior Emma Nordin was a break in the clouds for the ASU women’s side. She won the 500 and 1000 both Friday and Saturday vs. UCLA. She spent the summer training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado, and this weekend allowed her to show her improvements. Junior Erica Laning joined her on the podium in other distance events, as the two continued to prove the potential of the women’s distance core.
The opening half of Saturday’s matchup against the Bruins seemed promising- specifically, the opening 400 medley relay. Senior Chloe Isleta gave the ASU-A relay the lead on the first leg, although UCLA sophomore Claire Grover, a Scottsdale native, overpowered ASU senior Silja Kansakoski. The UCLA relay held the lead until about 10 yards remained in the race, when the 6-foot-4 ASU senior Cierra Runge powered ahead to win the race in a photo-finish, .02-seconds.
In the end, the UCLA side’s strength in breaststroke and butterfly overpowered Arizona State. The early freestyle events looked positive for ASU, especially with a 1-2 punch coming from Runge and Laning in the 200 freestyle.
200 FR: Runge Takes it in 1:49.51, Erica Laning just behind her at 1:49.96. Close finish as Laning led for 175yds of the race! pic.twitter.com/riCYQZRuPv— Zach Keenan (@kachzeenan) November 2, 2019
In the second half of the meet, Claire Grover, freshman Sophia Kosturos and senior Amy Okada all the stroke events, including a 1-2 finish from Kosturos and junior Jennifer Lathrop out-touching backstroke specialist Isleta in the 200 back.
“Our sprinters lifted weights this morning and swam in the afternoon,” Bowman explained after the USC meet Friday. “We didn't prepare for this in any way. So I feel good about that. And that means when we do prepare, we might have even more in the tank,” Bowman said.
His sights are set on the higher goal- the Pac-12 Conference meet in the spring. The team shares the similar mentality, as the dual meet record takes a backseat.
“It feels good [to win],” Ben Olszewski said after finishing perfect in individual events Friday. “We just need to focus on Pacs. Pacs. That’s the main goal.”
As the men’s team advances to 2-0 in dual meets, the women drop to 1-2 after the weekend.
Say goodbye to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center for now- the next home meet isn’t until Northwestern visits from Evanston in January.