Cal Looks Energized; Takes Lead After Day 2 of 2011 NCAA's

This writeup was originally written and posted live, as the meet unfolded. For the highlights, just read the sections underneath the event names.  Items in italics are more details, and include recaps of B-finals. Also, be sure to scroll to the end to see which teams moved up and down on day 1.

It’s time for day 2 of the NCAA Women’s Championships. Georgia enters the session in the lead, though not by as much as they might have expected after Day 1. USC,

Cal, Stanford, and Arizona have been making up ground on the Bulldogs, but today is a big day for Georgia. They’ve got the 200 free, where they’re currently seeded 1-2-3, and the 800 free relay, where they already broke the American Record at SEC Championships. They will now take aim at the NCAA and U.S. Open Records at 6:52.59, owned by Cal. Nobody’s going to beat Georgia in that relay, but even more significantly, breaking that record could be a shot in the arm that this team needs for the last day of competition.

USC’s day is going to be defined by their need to win lots of races. They have a legitimate shot at winning 4 events, including the opening 200 medley relay. They’ll need all 4 of those wins to stay in the hunt here.

Cal has suddenly, in many peoples’ minds, become the favorite. This is a big day for the Golden Bears, and they have multiple A-finalists in the 100 fly and the 100 back.

The race of the night will come early in the session in the 400 IM. Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel, USC’s Katinka Hosszu, and Stanford’s Maya DiRado all look poised to possibly break 4 minutes in this race, which is an impressive benchmark. It’s hard to make any determinations based on prelims, because all 3 of them have a reputation for slow-playing the prelims. In an interview this afternoon, she admitted that she was disappointed and sort of gave up on the 500 free, her first race. She’s probably going to trail Hosszu in this race, so she’ll have to be careful not to give up again.

6:44 PM- 3M diving prelims are over, with Houston’s Lacey Truelove winning the consolation championship in 381.45. In team scoring, Georgia’s Hannah Moore placed 11th overall, to earn Georgia 6 points. Stanford almost matched that total thanks to a 13th (Meg Hostage) and 16th (Stephanie Phipps) place finish.

6:47 PM- USC’s Victoria Ishimatsu didn’t compete in the 3-meter after placing 4th overall last year. This is a peculiar, and hugely significant, development, as USC was counting on a lot of diving points from her in this meet. You’ll recall that yesterday, she had a below-her-standards prelims session on the 1-meter, but then came back with a huge score in finals that would’ve been good enough for second in the Championship Final.

6:54 PM- This should be a huge showdown. The top 3 seeds (USC, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M) are all spectacular in this all-out sprint race.

7:00 PM- Georgia’s looking good early in the medley. They need to move up a lot off of their 16th place seed.

7:02 PM- Minnesota holds on for the consolation championship thanks to a (not surprisingly) huge swim from Jillian Tyler. LSU takes second.

7:03 PM- USC needs a lead hitting the freestyle leg.

200 yard medley relay

Cal’s Teri McKeever is making a strong case for Coach of the Year. She switched her relay from prelims by replacing Amanda Sims, their best butterflier with Coleen Fotsch on the fly leg, and it paid huge dividends. Last year, the versatile Fotsch was the backstroke leg on this relay where they finished 4th. This year, Cal jumped from the 4th seed after prelims to take the win in this race handily in 1:35.03. Not only did that score them 40 huge points, it also got them an NCAA, American, and U.S. Open record. The old mark was set by Arizona in 2008 at 1:35.29. Fotsch’s butterfly split of 22.88 was the difference-maker in this race, and set Liv Jensen up to pull away in 21.11 on the anchor.

Wisconsin dropped over a full second in this relay to hold on to 2nd in 1:35.71. They too got their best swim from their butterfly leg that should’ve been their weakest. Rebecka Palm, the only swimmer on the relay who failed to make an individual final thus far, when she split a 23.01.

USC was in the lead in this race prior to the freestyle leg. Christel Simms was the only freestyler on the top 7 relays who failed to break 22-seconds, and it dropped USC to 3rd. Kasey Carlson, however, was fabulous in 26.24. That was a half-second faster than anyone else in this event, including Minnesota’s Jillian Tyler in the B-final! Auburn took 4th, and A&M took 5th.

In the B-final, Georgia jumped to 13th. That might not seem as impressive as the top-3 finishes from Cal and USC, but that’s still a significant improvement, and are important points for Georgia.

7:22 PM- Florida’s relay was originally DQ’ed but was reinstated after video review. That’s 4 points back in the Gators’ pockets.

7:24 PM- Georgia slipped a little in the 200 medley. Cal matched their seed, and USC picked up 14 points. Trojans looking strong.

7:26 PM- 400 IM B-final is in the water. Stanford’s Andie Taylor is outside smoking this race. That would be huge for the Cardinal.

7:27 PM- Georgia’s Melanie Margalis and USC’s Stina Gardell made big moves on the breaststroke to overtake Taylor. Margalis takes the win.

7:30 PM- It’s showtime. I’m sticking with my pick of Hosszu in a 3:59.

7:32 PM- Hosszu and Crippen out to a lead at the first half, as expected. Beisel’s move will be on the breaststroke and freestyle.

400 yard IM

This is a big showdown. Katinka Hosszu took a big lead after the butterfly and backstroke legs, her two best, just as expected. The question was whether or not Elizabeth Beisel would be able to run her down on the breaststroke and freestyle legs, as she did in prelims. The Florida freshman had a much better back-half than in the morning, but Hosszu was just not going to let anyone come close to her on this one. She won in 3:59.75, making her only the second woman ever (after NCAA Record Holder Julia Smit) to break 4 minutes in this event. Beisel was better here than in the 500, but still didn’t have the big taper that Florida is used to. She finished second in 4:00.87, which was just off of her SEC time. Another freshman, Stanford’s Maya DiRado, was 3rd in 4:01.o2. She caught Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz (4th-4:01.72) on the last 50 of the race: showing impressive endurance for a freshman.

Indiana’s Alyssa Vavra took 3rd in 4:04.30, which is a Big Ten Record for her. Sarah Henry lowered her own A&M school record by taking 6th in 4:05.30. Theresa Crippen was 2nd last year, but slid to 7th this season. Georgia’s Jana Mangimelli was 8th.

7:46 PM- Maryland’s Megan Lafferty win’s the B-final of the 100 fly in 52.28. She’s going to have a huge junior year next season.

100 yard butterfly

Cal’s Amanda Sims jumped out to a fast start in this race, and improved hugely on her prelims back-half to make sure that she didn’t slip off. Sims, the 2009 Champion, was still a bit of an upset in this race for Cal. Her winning time of 50.49 was even more impressive, and made her the 3rd-fastest 100 butterflier in history. Fast starts were the name of the game in this race, as Western Kentucky’s Claire Donahue, a USA-Swimming A-finalist in 2010, jumped out to a big early lead. She slipped a little on the second 50, but still took 2nd in 51.68. USC’s Lyndsay Depaul, who looked to be the favorite in this race, fell to 3rd in 51.74. She never was able to get her jets turned on off of the blocks, and by the time she picked up steam, she was too far back.

Cal got more big points with a 4th from Hannah Wilson in 51.82.

7:56 PM- At this point, USC and Cal have put some good distance between themselves and Georgia. Cal 208, USC 200, Georgia 157. But Georgia could make up all of that in the upcoming 200 free. They have the top 3 seeds, and Romano may slip off, but they definitely need 1-2 from Schmitt and Romano.

7:59 PM- Tennessee’s Lindsay Gendron takes the B-final in 1:43.75, which blew away her prelims time by a full-second, and would’ve put her in the hunt for the top 3 in the A-final. Vreeland slips to 10th; they probably were hoping for a win from her.

200 yard freestyle

Allison Schmitt picked up her second individual title of the meet to hold even with Hosszu for Swimmer of the Meet honors. She swam a 1:42.08 to repeat as the 200 free champion in the fastest time we’ve seen since Dana Vollmer broke the NCAA record in 2009. Lauren Perdue from Virginia, however, really stole the show in this race. She took this race out hard, which was her only choice if she wanted to win. Just before the last turn, however, Schmitt caught her, and once Schmitt catches you in the 200, you’re not getting the lead back. Perdue still finished in an awesome time of 1:42.51 to better her ACC Record by well over a second.

Morgan Scroggy, the top overall seed after prelims, made a hard push to catch Perdue, but came up just short in 1:42.56. This was a great, strategic race.

Georgia had the 1-2-3 seeds after prelims, and fell well off of that in finals with a 1-3-7. The 7th was Megan Romano, who has already had a long day, and still has an individual 100 back and the 800 free relay left to swim. Texas’ Karlee Bispo was 4th, and Sara Isakovic recaptures some of her 2009 magic for Cal with a 5th place finish.

8:11 PM- Georgia moved into 2nd after this race, but not by nearly enough. USC will likely catch them on the breaststroke. I like Stanford’s Smith to make a big improvement here, along with Minnesota’s Haley Spencer.

8:13 PM- Haley Spencer for Minnesota had a bounceback to finish in 9th at 59.92. This was a great swim for her, as she was expected to be under 1:00 in this race, though the 200 is her better distance. Liz Smith makes a big move to go from 15th to 11th.

100 yard breaststroke

We almost saw the upset of the decade in this 100 breaststroke. At Big 12’s, Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson had a bad final turn to lose this event. In this meet, she nailed her last turn, and almost looked like she was going to beat out record hopeful Jillian Tyler. Tyler, though, in the end had the form to pull away only in the last 10 yards and take the win in 58.39. That wasn’t her best time on the season, and was off of the NCAA Record that many hoped she would break, but still was a great finish. She went out incredibly hard, and just couldn’t hang on to be under record pace.

Larson finished second in 58.51. That makes her the 6th fastest in history, and by far the fastest freshman in NCAA history. Also, Larson is only 18, so that mark stands as a 17-18 National Age Group Record. Even more impressively, she only got serious about swimming 2 years ago! She wasn’t on ANYBODY’S radar coming out of high school in Arizona last year, but fits that perfect mold that A&M coach Steve Bultman absolutely loves: a late bloomer without much hype out of high school (ala U.S. Olympian Christine Marshall).

Ashley Danner from George Mason scored another big medal for the underdog conferences by repeating her top 3 finish with a time of 59.23. This just out-touched USC’s Kasey Carlson, who touched in 59.29. Cal and Georgia had no finalists in this race, which put USC right back in the team battle.

8:21 PM- Can’t get over how exciting Larson’s 100 breaststroke swim was. We’ve just seen the metaphorical birth of the next great American breaststroker.

8:24 PM- SMU’s Therese Svendsen wins the B-final in 52.35. Wyoming’s Kelsey Conci takes second just barely in 52.36. More great mid-major action.

8:25 PM- 100 back is up. Based on how things have gone, I can’t see anyone beating Cal’s Deborah Roth…except her teammate Tran.

8:26 PM- This event is a pivot-point of the meet. USC and Georgia need to knock off Cal, or they’re in serious trouble.

100 yard backstroke

Cal’s Cindy Tran entered the meet with the top time in the country. In prelims, she barely made the A-final, but we weren’t fooled. We saw her rock the 200 medley lead-off split, and she came out of this race totally on fire. She was in an outside lane, which in a race that’s as reliant on underwaters as this one is, can be a bit of an advantage. She took huge advantage of those underwaters, and won in 51.30. Cal’s strategy of having her scratch the 100 fly to focus on this race paid off big-time. Another great coaching move from Teri McKeever.

Tran’s teammate, and fellow-freshman, Deborah Roth was the top overall seed after prelims, and almost made a move on Tran at the half-way point. She came up just short, but was still 2nd in 51.51. Cal has themselves one heck of a tandem going forward, and Roth still has arguable her better event, the 200 back, yet to come on day 3. USC’s Presley Bard was 3rd in 51.62. Georgia’s Megan Romano was 7th.

8:34 PM- If I were a gambling man, I’d put the house on Cal right now. They’ve still got a ton of points left on the final day of competition, and already have a huge lead in the meet. Cal 261, USC 231, Georgia 228.5. Stanford is well-back in 169.

8:36 PM- Up next is 3-meter diving. None of the top teams have divers in this A-final, though Georgia already picked up 6 points and Stanford 5 in the Consolation final. Good chance to sit-back and enjoy the diving as an independent competition, outside of the context of team scoring.

8:42 PM- In the fight for top-10 finishes, Wisconsin holds on to 8th at 118, one point behind Texas (7th-119). Minnesota also just back in 116 (9th) followed by A&M (10th-114). Texas will have the best 800 free relay, followed by A&M. Those two should be 7-8 after Day 2. Wisconsin has no 800 free relay, and will fall out of the top 10 as Florida will move in.

8:47 PM- This is Kelci Bryant’s event to lose. She should be NCAA Diver of the Year. She started off slow, but did the same yesterday. She should make it up. Duke’s Abby Johnston looks very good early on with the lead at 141. Bryant’s 7th at 119.2. Ohio State’s Bianca Alvarez, who was runner-up in this event in 2008 as a freshman, is second in 135.5.

8:56 PM- Bryant is creeping up after round 3, only 25 points behind Johnston now. Bryant’s probably the only one who can catch Johnston, barring her missing.

9:02 PM- Bryant now all the way back to 2nd, still 23 behind Johnston. Johnston is giving up any ground.

9:06 PM- Florida’s Monica Dodson sitting in 6th. Gators should be in top 10 after tonight.

9:10 PM- Bryant makes up a few more, but is still 20 back of Johnston. She’ll take it if she is safe on her last dive. Bryant solidly in second. Metz from Purdue should be 3rd.

9:16 PM- Mertz has a low DD, but great form to likely finish 3rd. Bryant finishes out her NCAA career with a runner-up on the 3-meter, and Johnston holds on for the title. Johnston 409.35, Bryant valiant effort for 2nd in 395.85, Mertz 3rd in 373.90.

3-meter diving

Kelci Bryant was everyone’s favorite on the 3-meter. After winning the 3-meter last year, and the 1-meter on Day 1, she looked good to win again. But she had a very poor first dive, that left her at the bottom of the standings. She fought and fought and clawed back into the race, but couldn’t climb any higher than 2nd. This was because Duke’s Abby Johnston was incredibly consistent, and won Duke’s first NCAA diving title in 209.35.

9:19 PM- Now it’s time for the 800 free relay. I’m not feeling a U.S. Open Record for Georgia here, based on a little slippage in the individual 200. Very well could dip into a 6:52 though. At this point, Cal’s gotta be the favorite for 2nd, with Florida not far behind.

9:26 PM- Remember, the 800 free relay is a “timed final,” so teams can move between heats. 1st heat is as important as 3rd.

9:28 PM- Besides Ejdervik’s DQ in the 100 breaststroke, Arizona State has been having a great meet. They should win this 1st heat and score some points.

9:32 PM- If there’s a glimmer of hope in this relay, remember that 3 out of Cal’s 4 relay swimmers were in the group that broke the U.S. Open Record in 2009. Only replacement is Dana Vollmer.

9:35 PM- Heat 2 of 3 in the water. Lindsay Gendron and Katinka Hosszu out early to the lead. Neither looks worn after great swims earlier in the session.

9:39 PM- A&M’s swimmers are racing this all with their upper bodies. Hardly any kick compared to other leaders.

9:41 PM- Lauren Perdue another awesome swim on Virginia’s anchor leg. UNC and Auburn both DQ’ed the 800 free relay. That hurts a lot, this is a relay that it just doesn’t make sense to DQ.

800 free relay

Georgia knew they were going to win this relay. They already set the American Record at SEC’s, and swapped out a few swimmers since then. Notably, Megan Romano and Shannon Vreeland both swam their way onto this relay. The race stayed surprisingly close, but Georgia still won handily in 6:55.40. Overall, Georgia looked flat in this relay, after an understandably long session for them. Cal, on the other hand, looked really good, yet again. They didn’t really get into the race until the halfway point (Texas and Arizona both front-loaded their relays), but made it count at the end. Sara Isakovic on the 3rd leg split a great 1:43.2 to put Cal on Georgia’s hip. Though Schmitt proceeded to put Liv Jensen away on the anchor, Cal clearly had way more energy at the end of the session.

Out of the second heat in this timed final, USC did themselves a little bit of a favor. They were able to move up to 8th overall. Virginia was the really impressive team in that 2nd heat, though. They finished 6th overall in 7:03.04, giving themselves a bit of a pick-me-up after a slow meet to this point. Virginia’s Lauren Perdue actually had the fastest split of the entire event with a 1:42.72. After a runner-up finish in the individual and now that swim, she’s set herself up for a great 100 free tomorrow.

Overall Standings and Thoughts

Cal has an overall lead after day 2, which was not unexpected. It was a bit of a surprise that it’s this big, at 20 points, despite some good Georgia diving performances. It doesn’t appear right now as though the Bulldogs can catch call, but USC is surprisingly still in this meet at 42 points back. They’d really be in it if it weren’t for the unexplained absence of their best diver on the 3-meter, but if she’s back on the platform tomorrow, they could still have a shot at Cal. USC is expected to have their best day on the final day of competition, and are seeded to outscore Cal in swimming by 25 points. Of course, with how Cal has been swimming, it seems that they’ll be able to move up as much as USC can, but it’s just enough doubt to keep the book from shutting on this one.

Florida had a better Day 2, though probably still not what they had hoped for. Thanks to a pair of A-finalists in the 3-meter, Texas held on to 6th place. The Longhorns will expect a lot of diving points on day 3 as well, so their swimmers might be doing just well enough to put them in the top 5 at the end of the meet. Arizona fell off of their torrential pace from day 1, and could have another slow day tomorrow. Stanford has a great final day ready, and should stay put in 4th.

Minnesota stayed in 8th, and though they have quite a few points coming their way in both the 200 breaststroke and the 1650 on Saturday, they won’t have diving or a medley relay. Auburn wasn’t hurt a ton by their DQ’ed 800 free relay, but slipped to 9th, and the final day is not a great one for them, aside from the sprint freestyles. A&M is holding on to 10th by the skin of it’s teeth over Wisconsin, and both of those squads will have great final days.

Scoring-number in parenthesis is how many points the team has improved or fallen off of their seeds after 2 days. This excludes diving points.

1. Cal Berkeley 295 (+56)
2. Georgia 274.5 (+33.5)
3. USC 253 (+47)
4. Stanford 192 (+20.5)
5. Arizona 184 (+65.5)
6. Texas 172 (-46)
7. Florida 149 (+4.5)
8. Minnesota 139 (+23)
9. Auburn 127 (-32)
10. Texas A&M 124 (-27.5)
11. Wisconsin 118 (+29)
12. Tennessee 101 (-47.5)

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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