400 yard IM
Just like yesterday in the 200 IM, USC’s Katinka Hosszu lulled her copetition to sleep with a good, but not mind-blowing, 400 IM prelims swim. In finals, however, she turned her amplifier to 11 and planted a 4:00.04 on the field to open day 3 at the Pac-10 Championships. This time was just .01 off of her time from USA-Swimming Nationals in December, and means that she now has two out of the three fastest times ever swum in this event.
This was a deep field, however, and hers was not the only impressive time. Stanford freshman Maya DiRado had a gutsy, come-from-behind performance to finish second in 4:02.48. The swimmer she overtook for second-place was one of the best 400 IM’ers in the country: Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz, who predictably had a great breaststroke leg, but faded ever-so-slightly in the freestyle. She finished third in 4:02.72. Those two are now ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the country behind only Hosszu and Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel.
With four A-finalists, USC erased the deficit that they had behind Cal entering the day. They didn’t make up much ground on Stanford though, as the Cardinal had 7 total scorers.
100 yard butterfly
Two events down, two events won for USC on their bread-and-butter day at the Pac-10 Championships. This time, Lyndsay DePaul got in on the fun with a winning mark of 51.34. This is a personal best in an impressive career for the senior, and is the best time in the country this season.
Though DePaul won this race, she was USC’s only A-finalist, which was a bit of a hit for the Trojans. Cal, on the other hand, came through very strongly to take second and third place finishes from Amanda Sims (51.64) and Hannah Wilson (52.41). This was a race dominated by experience, as each of the top three finishers were seniors. Stanford’s top finisher was Sam Woordward in 6th (52.78) and Felicia Lee, the top freshman finisher, in 7th (53.22).
200 yard freestyle
Stanford’s Kate Dwelley had a great swim to win this race with a time of 1:44.61, which is ranked 8th in the country. Ironically after Stanford’s first individual event win of the meet, they actually lost their lead in the team scoring to Cal.
One of our keys indicators for Cal coming into this meet was how well Sara Isakovic would do in the 200 free. She had a great swim in 1:44.94 to take 2nd place, and thus it was no surprise that the Golden Bears have a lead in the team scoring after this race. Liv Jensen’s fourth place finish (1:45.98), and three B-finalists helped greatly in this effort. Arizona State, who is having a great meet save a DQ in the 200 medley relay, scored a 3rd place finish from Shannon Landgrebe in 1:45.26 and a 7th from Cassie Morrice: both of whom are sophomores. These swims were indicative of great things from the Sun Devils later on in the session, beginning with the…
100 yard breaststroke
This 100 breaststroke was a loaded field. With Ellyn Baumgardner from Arizona, Kasey Carlson from USC, Brittany Beauchan from UCLA, and Liz Smith from Stanford, there were plenty of big names in the race. But they were all upended by Arizona State’s Rebecca Ejdervik. The Pac-10 is known for a history of great sprint breaststrokers, and the conference has claimed every National Title in this event since Georgia’s Kristy Kowal claimed the title in 2000. There are a lot of great breaststrokers around the country, so it will be interesting to see if Ejdervik, or any of the other great swimmers, will hold up in Austin, but thus far her 58.90 is amongst the best. This is her second-straight title in this event.
USC ftreshman Carlson, the heir apparent to the throne in the conference, was second in 59.12: a career-best time. She was the only other swimmer under the minute barrier in a race that could’ve easily had four or five 59’s, with Baumgardner third in 1:00.25. A fourth from Liz Smith (1:00.91) and an 8th from Kerry Kraemer pushed Stanford back into the lead by 25 points. But this 25 point lead is almost immeasurable in a meet as tight as this one, where an event winner earns 32 points.
100 yard backstroke
Last year, Cindy Tran broke Natalie Coughlin’s 100 yard high school backstroke record as a senior at Edison High. Nine months later, after following in Coughlin’s footsteps to Cal, she is setting more records. She took down Ana Agy’s Pac-10 Championship record with a winning time of 51.22, which is the best time in the country this season. But hers was not the only great swim in this race. In fact, the top four swimmers all earned NCAA Automatic Qualifying times, though none were close to Tran. USC’s Presley Bard was second in 52.23, a second behind the winner, and Stanford’s Betsy Webb was third in 52.90.
Arizona got one of their better performances–in what has been a disappointing meet–from freshman Sarah Denninghoff, who took fourth in 53.00.
Besides the 200 free, we had highlighted this race as a key swing-event for Cal, and with three A-finalists, and seven total scorers, to take the first significant lead in this meet. After this race, they pushed their lead to nearly 50 points ahead of Stanford, and 130 ahead of USC.
Tori Ishmatsu took her second victory for USC on the 3-meter with a score of 357.95. Though USC is probably out of the Pac-10 race, she will be a key in their run for a National title.
Cal got a big assist from Arizona State, as Elina Eggers (336.95) and Brittany Jumer (327.65). Cal wasn’t ever going to contend for a top-3 finish in this discipline, but those two finishes pushed Stanford’s Meg Hostage down a few notches to 4th (321.20). Thanks to this, and an 8-9 finish from Kelsey Heiken and Kahley Rowell, Cal was able to maintain a sizable lead headed into a very important relay.
400 yard medley relay
Cal knew, based on what they had seen thus far in this meet, that they had a better 400 medley relay than their main competitor: Stanford. What they really needed in this race, to feel any sort of comfort going towards the final day of competition, was to pull off a win over a very good USC squad that has its eyes on a National Championship in this race. By doing so, they would pick up the truck-full of bonus points that come with winning a Pac-10 relay (8).
Cal had found out about an hour earlier that Cindy Tran was coming into full form, and she again bested USC’s Bard by a full-second. On the breaststroke, a swim that the Trojans had to have, freshman Kasey Carlson had an awesome split of 58.87 ahead of a 59.07 from Cal’s Leverenz. USC’s DePaul and Cal’s Wilson were pretty close on the fly leg, but on the freestyle leg, Cal had their ace-in-the-hole. Liv Jensen is one of the country’s best sprinters, and was third in the 100 free at NCAA’s last year. USC’s anchor, Katinka Hosszu, is one of the country’s best swimmers, but is not a natural sprinter. There was no contest between the two, and Jensen’s 47.51 put the race away for Cal.
Their 3:28.99 is the fastest Pac 10 Championship time ever: even better than the 2009 Arizona relay that went on to set the NCAA record, and is easily the best in the country this season. They overwhelmed the USC relay, that in 3:31.08 is still third in the country behind only Cal and Tennessee. Arizona State boosted Cal a little further when they finished 3rd in 3:33.99 (a top-10 time), pushing Stanford’s group down to 4th in 3:34.54.
Cal has a 57-point lead over Stanford headed into the final day of competition, but this should not imply any safety. Stanford will erase this lead after the first event, the mile, where they will have at least two in the top 8. Cal, on the other hand, only has one swimmer (Sara Sun) entered in the race, and even with a great taper she is unlikely to break into the top 10. From there, the fight to the finish will be on.
Stanford’s Maya DiRado and Cal’s Deborah Roth will be fighting for the 200 back title, though both could be upset by USC’s Presley Bard. For Stanford, any time they can keep Cal off of the top of the podium it’s considered a “win,” though the two teams should be about even in the scoring here.
There’s a lot of points to be earned or lost in the 100 free. Top seed Margo Geer, from Arizona, seems to be out of contention for this title (based on how she has swum so far), so Liv Jensen from Cal or Kate Dwelley from Stanford can swing things in their team’s favor by winning this race. After that, it will be a lunge for the finish. Stanford has five swimmers battling for A-final spots, Cal has four, and with a sprinkling of USC and Arizona swimmers in the mix, this race will be one of the meet’s most intense even in prelims.
Stanford has better depth in the 200 breaststroke, though Cal’s Leverenz will probably win. Cal’s got the better depth in the 200 fly. The platform should be pretty even. But it’s those sprint freestyles that will make the difference. Whichever team has the better sprinters will win this meet.
I think that Stanford, with slightly more depth and a huge edge in the mile, will probably come back and win this meet, but I won’t be surprised if it goes the other way, either.
1. Cal 1047.5
2. Stanford 990.5
3. USC 886
4. UCLA 689
5. Arizona 590
6. Arizona State 545
7. Washington State 223
8. Oregon State 215