Bob Bowman delivered a message to his team before the conference meet two weeks ago.
“We swim lifetime best times, that’s always my expectation.”
To answer his question, the Sun Devils’ 800 freestyle relay improved on their 2018 finish by more than ten seconds. Junior Cierra Runge led the charge with a new season-best time of 1:43.46, also scratching the previous all-time school record she achieved earlier this year. Sophomore Emma Nordin followed with a lifetime-best relay split, then junior Kendall Dawson and sophomore Erica Laning anchored for a back-half time of 3:32.20.
ASU finished 12th in the nation in the relay, a two-second drop from the 15 seed achieved at the Pac-12 meet.
On the second day of the meet, Cierra Runge attacked another ASU all-time record, this time in the 500 freestyle. Runge swam a 4:34.64 in the prelims, almost a half-second drop from her Pac-12 time, to take the first seed in the finals.
In the finals, the race appeared to be a dead heat. After the halfway point, sophomores Brooke Forde of Stanford, Paige Madden of Virginia and Mackenzie Padington of Minnesota joined Runge in emerging clear of the pack. Runge, who had an early lead, stayed on pace with her mark from the morning while Forde and Madden raced ahead.
Runge finished fourth in the final, adding .75 seconds to her prelim time, while Brooke Forde won the race in 4:31.34, a 3.63-second drop from her time Thursday morning.
The time swam by Runge is still good enough for first team All-American honors, on the bright side.
In the prelims of the 50 freestyle, senior Fanny Teijonsalo missed the B-final by .04 seconds, but her 22.13 swim is a lifetime best by .06 seconds, and the second fastest time in ASU history.
With two more days to swim, ASU has a wide array of opportunities for more lifetime bests. On Friday, they will arrive in the form of the 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and the 200 medley relay.