The middle night of racing at the women’s NCAA Championships starts at 7 PM Central tonight, with Georgia looking to extend its lead after a big first day. Stanford hopes to stay hot after sweeping the relays on night 1, and Cal will have its stable of 100 backstrokers pushing to get the Golden Bears back into contention.
We’ve also got a rematch of Missy Franklin vs. Brittany MacLean in the 200 free after MacLean won a touchout for the NCAA record in the 500 last night.
Women’s 200 Medley Relay – FINALS
The Stanford women completed their sweep of the medley relays, though no record this time, with a 1:34.95 to win the 200 to begin the Friday night finals session. The team of Felicia Lee (23.56), Sarah Haase (26.77), Nicole Stafford (23.32), and Maddy Schaefer (21.30) combined for the win, though they didn’t get an NCAA Record this time as they did in the longer 400.
What’s really intimidating about that relay is that they only graduate Lee, and their medleys should actually get scarier next year with the addition of swimmers like Janet Hu and Simone Manuel, among others.
Tennessee, the defending champions, took 2nd in 1:35.32, with a 26.40 split from Molly Hannis. Florida was 3rd in 1:35.42 with a 21.29 Natalie Hinds anchor and a 22.71 Ellese Zalewski fly split, and neither of those splits was the beneficiary of any particularly impressive exchange.
The Georgia women, with the title in site, were fairly safe on their starts, which is right where they need to be, and took 5th in 1:35.98. Texas took 6th in 1:36.69, Virginia took 7th in 1:37.21, and NC State finished 8th in 1:37.73.
The USC women, with Kendyl Stewart appearing to feel significantly better in the evening session, won the B Final in 1:36.20. Stewart split a 23.20 on her fly leg, which was the third-fastest of the entire field. Carlson also split 25.78 on the breaststroke leg, which as far as we can tell is the fastest breaststroke split in history.
Women’s 400 IM – FINALS
Stanford head coach Greg Meehan hammers his swimmers on their walls, on their turns, on their underwaters. It’s been obvious all weekend in Felicia Lee’s swims, and coming off of the final turn of the women’s 400 IM, it was obvious for Maya DiRado. The senior DiRado swam a 3:58.12 in the 400 IM, just three-tenths shy of the American Record, and won her second individual NCAA title of this meet.
This race was a battle the whole way between DiRado, Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel, and Georgia’s Melanie Margalis. Beisel came out of the breaststroke first, but it was her and DiRado nose-to-nose for the first 75 yards of freestyle. But then, coming off of the final wall, DiRado just bounced like it was a trampoline. It wasn’t even her streamline that was so particularly great, but she was in and off of that turn in an instant, and by the time her feet hit the wall she had about a yard on Beisel, and wouldn’t relinquish it.
Beisel took 2nd in 3:58.54, and Margalis was 3rd in 4:00.30.
Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry and Cammile Adams, both National Teamers, were 5th and 6th respectively in 4:02.88 and 4:03.16.
Georgia’s Amber McDermott was 6th in 4:05.16, USC’s Stina Gardell was 7th in 4:07.34, and Celina Li was 8th in 4:08.02.
Georgia continued to move up, with Nicole Vernon winning the B-Final in 4:05.88, and Hali Flickinger finishing 10th in 4:06.18.
Women’s 100 Fly – FINALS
This women’s 100 fly almost became the biggest “where did that come from” NCAA title we’ve seen in a while, as SMU’s Marne Erasmus held a sizable lead on everyone but Cal’s Cindy Tran at the turn. But Erasmus tightened up at the finish, and Stanford’s Felicia Lee, with the advantage of fantastic underwaters probably leaving her just a little bit more on her last couple of strokes, winning in 50.89.
Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell, the fastest seed out of prelims, took 2nd in 51.0, and Erasmus took 3rd in 51.10.
UCSB’s Andrea Ward took 4th in 51.47, giving the Gauchos their first All-American since 2009.
Florida’s Ellese Zalewski add about three-tenths from prelims to place 5th in 51.50. Tran slid all the way to 6th by the final touch in 51.64, with Princeton’s Elizabeth Boyce (51.66) and Cal’s Farida Osman (52.25) rounding out the A-Final.
Denver’s Sam Corea won the B-Final in 51.62. Her fastest time, and the school record, coming into this season was just a 53.20. Liberty’s Jess Reinhardt took 10th overall in 51.72, making her the second All-American in school history.
Women’s 200 Free – FINALS
Missy Franklin, one of the greatest female athletes on the planet, set Minneapolis on fire with a blistering new NCAA Record, American Record, U.S. Open Record, and fastest of all-time swim in the 200 yard free, posting a 1:40.31 to win.
As they say in golf, sometimes, you have to let the big dog eat. While ‘team’ is very important in college swimming, as it is in all team sports, when it’s time, the stars have to take over. It was clear from the beginning of this race, that this was Missy’s moment – she split 23.4 on her first 50, and a 48.7 in her first 100 yards. That time was her first career NCAA title, in a relay or an individual swim. (Read more about her record-breaking swim here).
The rest of the field was almost lost behind her, but Shannon Vreeland took 2nd in a fantastic 1:42.26 for 2nd, and Lindsay Gendron took 3rd in 1:42.55.
Georgia’s Brittany MacLean took 4th in 1:43.30, with a 25.8 last 50 yards. For reference, that’s the same split in which she closed her winning 500 free on Friday – which highlights just how well she closed her 500.
Penn State’s Alyson Ackman, a two-time Big Ten Champion, took 5th in 1:43.81. As compared to last year, when she took 37th, another year’s experience has done wonders for her carrying her speed through to NCAA’s.
Texas A&M’s Lili Ibanez took 6th in 1:43.90, just missing Julia Wilkinson’s School Record; Cal’s Caroline Piehl was 7th in 1:43.98; and Georgia’s Jordan Mattern was 8th in 1:44.76.
Meanwhile, Stanford’s Lia Neal won the B-Final in 1:43.82, followed by fellow freshman Chelsea Chenault of USC (1:44.25).
Women’s 100 Breaststroke – FINALS
Coming out of prelims, this women’s 100 breaststroke, this race was wide-open. In finals, though, Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson closed the door on her second 50 with a total time of 57.23, splitting 27.0/30.2 en route to her 3rd-straight title in this event.
Right with her at the turn, though, was a crew of the best women’s breaststrokers we’ve ever seen at the NCAA level, certainly if you take time without context at least. Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Emily McClellan placed 2nd in 57.76, Notre Dame’s Emma Reaney was 3rd in 57.79, and USC’s Kasey Carlson took 4th in 58.47. Note that the swim for the senior McClellan would have broken the NCAA Record as it stood when she enrolled at UW-Milwaukee, which is a significant milestone for her.
Stanford’s Katie Olsen took 5th in 58.70, leaving her as only the second Cardinal swimmer in history under 59 seconds (behind only the great Tara Kirk). Tennessee’s Moly Hannis placed 6th in 59.66, Alabama’s Kaylin Burchell was 7th in 59.84, and SMU’s Tara-Lynn Nicholas was 8th in 1:00.44.
With 7 under a minute in the A-Final, plus 6 more under a minute in the B-Final (led by Indiana’s Bronwyn Pasloski in 59.39), we’re creeping ever-closer to a point where all finalists go under a minute in this event. In fact, only one of the 16 finalists didn’t break a minute in either round.
Women’s 100 Back – FINALS
Texas A&M senior Paige Miller, who we didn’t even pick to be in our top 8 (though A&M fans knew better), just missed her leadoff split from the relay, but in yet another great finish at this meet just snuck past Cal’s Cindy Tran for a 50.81.
Stanford’s Felicia Lee took 3rd in 50.91, but had the best back-half of the field again in this race, coming home in 25.89.
Indiana’s Brooklynn Snodgrass took 4th in 51.05, and Virginia’s Courtney Bartholomew was 5th in 51.12. Bartholomew had the fastest in-season time in the country this year, and wound up not too far off of that in finals.
Cal’s Melanie Klaren took 6th in 51.32, and Florida Gulf Coast’s Kira Toussaint was 7th in 51.81 for honors of highest-placing freshman. Auburn’s Emily Bos wound up 8th in 51.84.
In the B-Final, Georgia won another heat, though not having any scorers in the A-final, with a 51.47 from Olivia Smoliga. Florida’s Sinead Russell finished 10th in 51.82.
Women’s 3-Meter Diving – FINALS
The flood gates are open for Georgia diving. When senior Laura Ryan transferred in from Indiana prior to last season, the Bulldogs didn’t have a single NCAA diving champion (on the women’s side) in their history. Now, Ryan has won two this year, and the platform (which was her best event last season) is yet to come.
Ryan posted a score of 423.15 on the 3-meter, which was over 20 points clear of Texas’ Maren Taylor. That’s a huge move-up for both swimmers as compared to last year, where Ryan took 13th and Taylor took 17th.
In 3rd this year was Southern Illinois’ Kaixuan Zhang with a score of 385.20, followed by Purdue’s Michelle Cabassol, UMass’ Michaela Butler, Illinois State’s Wenting Zhang, Texas’ Emma Ivory-Ganja, and Kentucky’s Christa Cabot.
The Texas women scored two in that A-Final, plus one in the B-Final, which is a good boost for their chances at top 10 finish.
Women’s 800 Free Relay – TIMED FINALS
Missy Franklin, after a relatively quiet first day of this meet, caught fire on day 2 of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Championships.
We’ll cut straight to the end of this race, where Stanford was charging hard on Georgia, and the two were each two seconds. It would have looked like it was a two-team battle, if you didn’t know that Cal’s anchor was Missy Franklin, who about an hour earlier had swum the fastest 200 yard freestyle in history.
To the amazement of all in attendance, Franklin split a 1:40.08 and made up the two-and-a-half second gap on both Georgia and Stanford to give Cal the win in 6:54.94.
Georgia, with a very good anchor from Brittany MacLean of 1:42.66, took 2nd in 6:55.09, and Stanford was 3rd in 6:55.62 with a 1:42.70 second leg for Maya DiRado.
After this year’s class graduates, it looks like MacLean is ready to take the mantle of the next great Georgia freestyler, as she’s shown that great improved speed that all of the Georgia middle-distance swimmers develop as their career goes on.
USC placed 7:00.18, with three of their four legs splitting under 1:45. Virginia was 5th in 7:01.81, and the home team Minnesota was 6th in 7:02.43.
The A&M women took 7th in 7:02.66 – which is an add of four seconds from SEC’s, so that’s their first relay miss of this meet. Florida rounded out the top 8 of this timed final in 7:03.83.
Top 5 team standings after day 2 are below. A full scoring breakdown after day 2 can be seen here:
1. Georgia – 369
2. Stanford – 297
3. Cal – 285
4. Texas A&M – 226.5
5. USC – 189