WSU Swimming Begins Season in Los Angeles

Curtis Calhoun | Evergreen women's swimming reporter

The Washington State University swimming team will begin its 2014-15 season in Los Angeles this week. The Cougars will compete against USC in a dual meet on today at 7 p.m., and then travel to Westwood to face UCLA on Friday at 1 p.m.

The Cougars lost to the Trojans 146-116 in their first home meet last season. WSU sophomore Haley Rose Love, junior Frederikke Hall, and senior Alison Mand highlighted the competition for the Cougars with a first-place finish in the 200-meter medley relay event.

WSU welcomed UCLA to Gibb Pool in Pullman for back-to-back dual meets last season, but failed to make a splash against the Bruins losing 133-67 and 142-80 respectively. Mand earned a first-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle race, and senior Nicole Proulx won the 100-meter freestyle event during the competition.

Swimming head coach Tom Jager, a former two-time Olympic gold medalist, enters his fourth season at WSU after coaching for seven years across the Palouse at the University of Idaho. Jager and the Cougars are mentally and physically ready to begin their season against nationally recognized Pac-12 opponents.

“When you lead off against some of the best teams in the country, it’s like jumping off of a cliff,” Jager said. “You better hope you can swim, and our team can swim, and we’ll do a great job at it.”

Coach Jager is accompanied by assistant coach Adriana Quirke, and Coordinator of Operations and WSU alumna Kelsey Bruggman. Quirke enters her seventh season as a member of Jager’s coaching staff, while Bruggman will begin her first season at her position.

Jager, a UCLA alumna, is excited about the opportunity to face his alma mater.

“We always love swimming against those guys,” Jager said in an interview with wsucougars.com. “They’re great competition and they’re building every year, too. The Pac-12 conference is getting faster and faster every day.”

Mand is one of the key leaders on this year’s team, and is excited to begin her final season at WSU against high-caliber competition.

“We always have a great time racing in California, and it’s going to be a highlight of the year.” Mand said. “We know we’re better this year, and we’re more than ready to show that.”

The team returns 13 swimmers from last year’s squad, featuring three seniors. The team also features six new student-athletes, including freshmen Anna Brolin, Hannah Bruggman, Jessica Marston, Monica McNamara, Rachel Thompson, and Talisa Wibmer.

Assistant coach Quirke is excited about the new swimmers on this year’s team, and believes that their transition period to competing at the collegiate level won’t be a difficult one.

“I think we have some great freshmen leaders,” Quirke said. “We’re just going to let them go, and see what they bring and adjust if we need to.”

After opening their season in Los Angeles, the team will return home to Pullman to face the Arizona Wildcats on Friday, Oct. 17 at 5:00 p.m.