LA MIRADA, Calif.-- It was a fitting end to an impressive meet. On Saturday the Azusa Pacific women’s swimming and diving team elevated itself to sixth place at the Pacific Coast Swimming and Diving Conference championships to close the season with one of the program’s best finishes.
The Cougars, who had already seen three school-records fall through three days of the meet, saw one of the team’s best performances to open the night, before edging out NCAA Division I Pepperdine by 17.5 points to claim sixth place at the 13-team meet.
“It was a great week for Azusa Pacific swim. The girls exceeded all expectations, and were extremely impressive each and every day. They’ve trained so hard for so long, so it’s nice to see it all come to this,” said head coach Tim Kyle. “It’s been such a long season and they’ve been in the pool early every morning to prepare for this. I’m proud of the way they competed, and I’m happy with how well we did.”
Things looked good early for the Cougars as Mikaela Fuller posted Azusa Pacific’s top-swim of the meet, finishing in second place in the 1650 free with a time of 17:31.60 to kick off the day. The freshman came within 14 seconds of the program’s all-time record to register one of the school’s best finishes ever at the conference championships.
“For her to come in second against a field as loaded as that is amazing. She swam against division I athletes and beat them, and she’s only a freshman. It says a lot about how hard she trained and how talented she is,” said Kyle.
Victoria Hodge took 10th place in the race, recording a personal-best 18:13.00, while Haley Stevens took 26th with a mark of 19:04.58.
In the 200 back Anna Eckberg grabbed 10th place with a season-best 2:13.00, and Malerie Morgan finished in 14th at 2:15.16 in the final swim of her career. Kristen Fredricks (2:22.14), Karley LeQuia (2:23.94), and Stacy Lee (2:24.46) rounded out the Cougar swimmers at 28th, 29th, and 30th respectively.
A day after breaking the program-record in the 200 free Quinn Robertson recorded a personal-best in the 100 free, touching at 52.38 to take 11th place. Angela Kanigowski continued her comeback with a 53.87 to grab 16th, while Ingrid Caredenas placed 20th with a time of 53.32. Erica Knudsen swam a time of 54.30 (27th), and she was followed by Taylor Rogers (56.38), Lauren Turner (56.26), Jazminne Robles (58.14), and Lindsay Luebker (1:02.25).
Simone Garcia, who broke two of her own school-records this week, continued her strong swimming with a team-best 2:26.29 in the 200 breast to place 14th. Cameron Hagen, the Cougar record-holder in the 200 breast, grabbed 15th with a time of 2:26.80, while Corinne Vierra finished in 40th (2:46.66).
In the 200 fly Madelyn Mooers recorded a time of 2:16.70 in the final (15th), after registering a season-best 2:14.80 in the prelims. Kaitlyn Lee swam a time of 2:19.88 in the race to take home 18th.
Azusa Pacific closed the meet in the 400 free relay, where the ‘A’ team of Alyssa Hickman, Knudsen, Kanigowski, and Robertson took eighth (3:33.19). The Cougars’ ‘B’ team of Fuller, Hodge, Turner, and Rogers touched at 3:43.19 to place 16th.
Azusa Pacific closed the championships with 655 points, beating out the likes of Pepperdine, Alaska-Fairbanks, and UC Santa Cruz to post the program’s second-best finish in sixth place. The Cougars took home fifth in 2011.