Pac-12 Championships set to kick off in Houston

Cougars will look to turn odd season upside down at Pac-12 tournament from Feb. 24-27



Current senior Mackenzie Duarte swims the butterfly portion of the first heat of the 400-meter medley relay on Sept. 29, 2019 at Gibb Pool.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

After an uncertain season filled with many stops and starts, the Pac-12 swim teams have made it to their biggest meet of the year, the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming Championships.

Although this meet is normally held at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington, the meet was moved to Houston, Texas, due to COVID-19 restrictions in King County.

“It’s going to be another adventure in a very different year,” WSU head coach Matt Leach said.

For WSU (4-1, 0-1), every moment in the pool, both during practice and in meets, has been working towards this tournament.

“We’ve been preparing really well, I’m excited to see what our young women can do,” Leach said.

Although the WSU swim team is a young one with several freshman, they have proven to step into a large role on the team. The four seniors, which include the team’s three captains, have also left a major mark on the team and will look to keep breaking WSU and personal records.

“All year we’ve leaned on our seniors to help with this process, and they’ve done such a good job,” Leach said.

Seniors Chloe Larson, Mackenzie Duarte and Taylor McCoy are the top three swimmers coming into the Pac-12 Championships. All three of these seniors have had some strong swims in the four meets this season.

WSU also has four freshmen who have been great for the Cougars this season: Josie Liebzeit, Hailey Grotte, Kiana Swain and Kaya Takashige. All four of these freshmen will look to continue their impressive swims in this championship meet.

The season was split into two halves due to COVID-19, as WSU had two meets in November before finishing their season in January and February. Their only meet against a Pac-12 team this season came against Utah on Jan. 15, as they lost 140-118.

WSU swimmers will be in the pool with the back-to-back Pac-12 Swimmer of the Week, Cal Golden Bears’ junior Isabel Ivey. Ivey is currently ranked second nationally in the 100-free, fourth in the 100-backstroke, seventh in the 100-fly and sixth in the 200-individual medley in the country.

Several teams such as Cal and Stanford have had strong teams in the past and are looking to continue to have a strong presence for this upcoming meet.

The Cougars will dive into the championships at 4 p.m. Wednesday and will start at the same time every day through Saturday. The meet’s stream can be accessed on the Pac-12 website, and the live statistics can be followed through