Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz didn’t want to wait until Friday’s 400 IM, the most-hyped race of this meet, to take her first NCAA Championship. She got that out of the way early by winning the women’s 200 IM in an American, U.S. Open, and NCAA Record (basically, the fastest time ever) swim of 1:51.77. That made dust of the old record of 1:52.31 set by Stanford’s Julia Smit at Pac-12’s in 2010.
It’s clear when looking at the comparative splits where Leverenz won this race and took the record – the breaststroke. She was slower than Smit (and runner-up Katinka Hosszu – whose time of 1:51.80 was 2nd-best ever) in almost every phase of this race except for the breaststroke, and Smit herself is a very good breaststroker. The gap was that big though, to still give Leverenz the record. What’s really exciting for her is the 28.47 split on the backstroke – that’s been the part of the IM’s where she’s gotten hung-up in the past, and now it’s actually a strong leg for her. She was only a 29.8 on that backstroke leg last year. It will be interesting to see if she maintains that backstroke speed in the 400, where Hosszu still has to be the favorite.
Smit: 24.27, 52.95 [28.68], 1:25.06 [32.11], 1:52.31 [27.25]
Hosszu: 24.39, 52.29 [27.90], 1:25.01 [32.72], 1:51.80 [26.79]
Leverenz: 24.75, 53.22 [28.47], 1:24.34 [31.12], 1:51.77 [27.43]