Haley Anderson is a fast-starter in this mile; she knows that she can be, because she has the endurance to hang on. This year, though, without Stephanie Peacock or Wendy Trott to pace with, Anderson had to be the rabbit and take it out be the one who set the early speed.
She slid into that role perfectly, and for the first half of this race split almost identically as she did in 2012 when she was the runner-up.
Georgia sophomore Amber McDermott was the swimmer who hung on her hip for the first 1000 yards of this race, but as McDermott fell off, Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry, the top seed coming in, and Florida’s Jessica Thielmann came up to challenge.
At the end, Henry was the only one who could stick with Anderson until the wire, and though she had the better closing 100 yards of the two, Anderson had just enough of a lead to win with a 15:45.98. Henry was 2nd in 15:46.41 – just missing her mid-season best time (though she’ll end the year have the best time overall this season).
Indiana’s Lindsay Vrooman never quite challenged for the lead in this race, but she had a relatively strong close to take 3rd in 15:50.73 – rebreaking her own school and Big Ten Records in the race.
McDermott fell back to 5th place, improving one position over her finish at last year’s meet with a 15:52.52. Recovering from a wrist injury earlier this year (though we don’t know exactly how severe it was, it did cost her a few meets), that’s a spectacular finish. Florida’s Alicia Mathieu was actually the highest-placing Gator in 15:52.88, and she outsplit freshman teammate Jess Thielmann by two seconds on the last 50 to move up that spot. Thielmann was 6th, followed by Georgia’s Brittany MacLean in 7th in 15:54.63. MacLean was the fastest swimmer out of the morning heats.
A&M’s Maureen McLaine rounded out the first-team All-Americans with a 15:56.80 for 8th place, and then the times fell to a 16:04 from Arkansas’ Lauren Jordan in 9th.