WSU freshmen make huge splash at Pac-12 Championships

WSU swim team rewrites record books



WSU swim competes in the Pac-12 Championship.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor

WSU swimming has not sent multiple swimmers to the NCAA Championships since 2009 and has never sent a freshman. At this year’s Pac-12 Championships, the Cougars sent, not one but two freshmen. 

The Cougars started out slow on day one but set five new WSU top-10 times on day two. Day three saw seven top-10 times recorded and 10 swimmers reach the night’s finals.

Day four was truly historic with six WSU top-10 times set and five finalists. That night, the 400-yard freestyle relay team of Angela Di Palo, Noelle Harvey, Hailey Grotte and Selena Duran set a WSU record at 3:17.76.

Also that night Dori Hathazi broke the 200-yard butterfly record at 1:55.92 and took seventh in the Conference and Emily Lundgren took third in the Pac-12 setting a WSU record in the 200-yard breaststroke at 2:08.33. 

Lundgren said the team’s attitudes were far better going into the meet.

“Everyone had a smile on their face, no matter what they did after the race. Everyone was there for everyone. We were one of the loudest teams on the pool deck,” Lundgren said. “We were always just supporting each other and I think that’s why we had really great results was because everyone kept a really positive attitude throughout the whole meeting.”

Sophomore Duran recorded four WSU top-10 times in three different events and was on the record-setting 400 freestyle squad. She said the team was mentally and physically prepared and they crushed it, but there was still room for improvement.

“All the team was cheering, and we’re more connected than in other years,” Duran said. “We maybe could do some things better, like maybe a few relays that we were really exhausted we could do so much better but still I think we crushed it.”

Head coach Matt Leach agreed that he wished the team started faster in the relays but said the team came back and got better which he is really proud of and excited by. The biggest key to this year’s success was leadership and culture, Leach said.

“Everyone who’s on this pool deck understands the workload we’re gonna do, they understand how important their relationships are and that they are gonna need to work on them, but they also understand that this isn’t just, ‘Oh show up and we’ll be great,’ it’s blood sweat and tears every day.” Leach said.

Lundgren and Hathazi’s amazing freshman seasons are a result of the system built and the captains who set the bar, Leach said. WSU has built a foundation where no matter how talented the classes coming in are, they are primed for success.

It was the most success WSU has had at the Pac-12 Championships as a team under Leach, which is exciting now and is even more exciting for the future.

The Cougar’s next competition is the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America National Invitational Championships Thursday–Saturday and then on March 15–18 WSU’s two star freshmen take on the NCAA field.