WSU swimming leaves Idaho in its wake with record-setting times

The Cougs celebrated senior night with their best performance of the season



WSU women’s swimmer Kaya Takashige swims in a butterfly race during an NCAA women’s swim meet against University of Idaho, Feb 3.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor

It took 40 years for the Cougs to set a record in Gibb Pool. On senior night, they got six.

The theme of the meet was pure dominance, as WSU (1–5) took first place in all 14 events and won initially by a staggering margin of 219-43, but officially 162-92, with some races being omitted from the final score as is the courtesy in blowouts, head coach Matt Leach said.

“This is by far the best team performance that I’ve been a part of,” head coach Matt Leach said. “I’ve been a part of a few programs that have gone all the way through winning and this is probably the most important and most impressive for me.”

The 200-yard relay team kicked it off setting a new pool record at 1:40.44. Next would be sophomore Angela Di Palo setting the record in the 200-yard freestyle at 1:48.14.

WSU women’s swimmer Angela Di Palo dives into the water during an NCAA women’s swim meet against University of Idaho. Feb. 3, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Freshman Anna Rauchholz set the 100-yard backstroke record at 54.10. Freshman Emily Lundgren set the record in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:01.41 and in the 200-yard breaststroke at 2:12.87 before the 400-yard freestyle relay team set the new record at 3:21.08.

It was a special night for the seniors not only getting recognized but showing out. Fifth-year Rebeca Oviedo Cardenas finished third in the 500-yard freestyle and team captain Jewel Springer won the 400-yard individual medley at 4:20.77, a WSU top-10 all-time finish.

It was on her radar, but she did not expect to go that fast tonight, Springer said.

WSU women’s swimmer Jewel Springer celebrates senior night with her family before an NCAA women’s swim meet against University of Idaho, Feb. 3, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

“During the race, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s probably decent,’ but when I finished and saw the board, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’ it’s like perfect timing and sets me up for my after season goals,” Springer said. “It was so nice having my family here supporting me on senior night and I thought it was gonna throw me off because I was crying a lot before my race, but maybe I just need to uncontrollably ball before all my races because it worked out ok.”

WSU women’s swim team encourages their teammates during an NCAA women’s swim meet against University of Idaho, Feb 3. 2023 at Gibb Pool in Pullman.

Senior captain Mikaela Kirton and senior student coach Michee van Rooyen were honored as well. As for other top performers, the list goes on, including second and third-place finishers in every race for WSU, except for four where Idaho took third.

Other winners include freshman Dori Hathazi in the 100-yard butterfly at 58.82 and the 200-yard butterfly at 1:57.24, fellow freshman Kirsten de Goede in the 50-yard freestyle at 23.43, Di Palo, who recorded her second win in the 100-yard freestyle at 50.26, junior Kiana Swain in the 200-yard backstroke at 2:00.54 and Lundgren, who got her third win of the night in the 100-yard individual medley at 57.44.

Freshman Lauren Willie also got her first career win in the 500-yard freestyle at 4:52.17.

The atmosphere and the occasion seemed to provide extra incentive for the team and now they are looking as sharp as ever, Leach said.

“In one of our team talks we talked about that, if we have to have a senior night every night for you guys to get up and perform for each other we will do it, but it goes back to team performance, it goes back to setting the seniors off the right way, you know, the band that was here, the drum line, that’s awesome,” Leach said. “Our young team is starting to figure out how to perform for each other and not just make it an individual sport … not just learning how to walk, but learning how to run, which is scary and fun.”

The WSU swim team now has a week off from competition before they head to the Pac-12 Championships Feb. 22–26 in Federal Way.