Feb. 6, 2004
The No. 2 ranked Stanford synchronized swimming team began their season the only way they knew how: by sweeping all events at the William and Mary Invitational last Saturday, swimming to victory against the No. 12 ranked host team.
The cardinal snatched the lead at the start of the competition and never relinquished it, soundly defeating the east coast rivals who had little time to figure out what hit them. Stanford's A-squad set the tone for the ultimate triumph, snagging the top eight spots in the elements competition, which out-placed W&M and Mary Washington's best swimmers. Former member of the 2004 Olympic Team training squad, Katie Norris claimed the title in the event, followed by Samantha Bongiovanni-Duclos, Ashley McHugh, Jennifer Kibler, Cassidy Ramage, Courtney Penn, Shella Sadovnik, and Mari Maekawa.
The cardinal then proved their strength in trio and duet by placing routines first and second in each event. Bongiovanni-Duclos, McHugh, and Norris scored a 91 out of a perfect 100, with the trio of Kibler, Ramage, and Sadovnik four points behind. Bongiovanni-Duclos and McHugh secured another first-place ranking in duet, followed by teammates Maekawa and Penn in second, and the W&M's top duet in third. But the cardinal landslide did not stop there. Norris wowed the packed audience with an impressive solo to Cirque du Soleil, scoring a 94.83 to pummel W&M's Kim Marsh. Norris then paired up with teammates Bongiovanni-Duclos, Kibler, Maekawa, McHugh, Penn, Ramage, and Sadovnik to oust the W&M squad in the team routine competition, scoring a 94.33 to W&M's 83.83.
Naturally, these athletes are optimistic about the remainder of the season. "To come off with a win at our opening meet feels great," sophomore Ramage said. "It really gives us confidence going into our season, which is so important if we want to have what it takes to win the national championship." But when asked if the results of the invitational foreshadowed a 2004 NCAA Championship title, fellow sophomore Penn noted, "We swam really well for our first competition, but there are a lot of glitches in our performances that need to be worked out before we take on our top competitors. Fixing these issues needs to be our number one priority, and we can't let an overwhelming win like this make us lose sight of that."
The cardinal will be away this weekend, taking on No. 6 Texas and No. 7 Washington respectively. They come back for their first home meet of the season against No. 3 Alabama next week, on Valentine's Day at 11:00 in the Belardi pool at the Avery Aquatic Center.