Pac 10 Women’s Swimmer of the Week: Andi Murez (Stanford)
Pac 10 Men’s Swimmer of the Week: Cory Chitwood (Arizona)
Stanford Women Exact Small Revenge Against Champs
In a big-time tri-meet in Palo Alto, the Stanford Cardinal Women established themselves as early NCAA contenders by winning 258-153 over Michigan and 227-175 over Teresa Crippen-less Florida, despite exhibitioning the last 3 events of the meet. Florida also beat Michigan 286-124.
The showdown between Florida and Stanford, who were first and second respectively at NCAA’s last season, was a showcase of the young talent that will be vital to each team’s success this season.
Stanford got big wins from sophomore Andi Murez in the 100 freestyles. In an interesting twist, there was a 50, 100, 200, and 500 freestyle contested on each day of the two-day meet, and Murez won the 100 twice. Her 50.18 from day 2 finished the weekend as 10th best in the country.
Her teammate Felicia Lee, who I’m a huge fan of, won the 100 fly in a great sub-55 swim, at 54.99.
The individual race of the night was the 100 backstroke. At the turn, Stanford’s Betsy Webb, her hugely underrated freshman teammate Maya Dirado, and Florida’s Lily Ramirez, who sneaks under the radar as the third fastest 100 backstroker in Florida history, were neck-and-neck at the halfway mark of the race. Coming home, however, Webb turned on the jets and touched the wall in 55.33, an NCAA B-cut. Dirado was just behind her in 55.47, and Ramirez was third in 55.75.
Day two began with high drama in the 200 medley relay. The squad from Stanford took an early lead on the strength of a great backstroke split from Betsy Webb of 26.38. Stanford then extended their lead in both the breaststroke and butterfly legs, seemingly putting the race away. That was until Florida’s Sarah Bateman, who has looked very impressive early this season, hit the water on the anchor leg. She charged hard, turning in a very fast split of 22.41, but Stanford’s Kate Dwelley just barely hung on to give Stanford a win by .02 seconds in 1:43.80. This excitement set up for a great second day of racing, highlighted by some great performances from Elizabeth Beisel.
Beisel easily earns swimmer of the meet honors for her dominating performance. The freshman has a legitimate chance to become a 4-time NCAA Swimmer of the Year if she continues to perform like she has early in this season. At this meet, she posted four event wins (200 and 400 IM, 200 back, and 400 free), including three season best times and nearly a fourth in the 200 IM.
Beisel now has top-three national times in all four of those events. In the 200 back and 400 IM, which she won by 7 seconds, she has the best time in the nation by a huge margin.
For Michigan, the best swim was from sophomore transfer Adrienne Bicek, who won the 200 fly in 1:59.41. They also got a won on day 2 freestyle from Natasha Moodie.
Florida and Stanford head to huge invites the weekend of November 19th. Florida will be swimming in the Georgia Tech Invitational and Stanford will travel to the Arena Invitational in Long Beach. Both of those meets have loaded fields and will feature near-NCAA level competition.
Arizona Sweeps Wisconsin in the Desert
The Arizona women, who were on upset alert against Wisconsin, pulled off a 158-104 victory, with the Arizona men cruising to a 187-74 win over the Wisconsin men.
The Arizona women were very strong in the freestyle events, where they swept all 6 races including the 200 free relay. Freshman Margo Geer swam season-best times to win the three shorter freestyles. This includes a 49.30 100 freestyle that is the best in the nation so far this year. Geer flew a little under the radar, but could turn out to be one of the more valuable freshmen in the nation, given the strength she brings to the Arizona relays.
Arizona’s Alyssa Anderson also won three individual events, the 500 free, 1000 free, and 400 IM, in season best times.
Despite a rather lopsided score, Wisconsin was not without many great swims. This includes double-victories from Maggie Meyer in the backstrokes and Ashley Wanland in the breaststrokes and a dominating performance in the 400 medley relay: an event that Arizona won a National Championship in last season.
In that 400 medley relay, Wisconsin swam a time of 3:40.13, which leaves them with USC as the two elite medleys in the nation, over 2 seconds faster than everyone else in the nation.
The Arizona men took the meet handily, winning 10 out of the 13 events. Cory Chitwood, who is a favorite to sweep the backstroke events at NCAA’s, went a season’s best time in the 200 back of 1:48.1. That time stands as 9th best in the nation, which bodes well for him as Arizona has the biggest taper amongst the top-tier teams every year. He also took the 200 free win.
The only three events that Arizona didn’t win were won by Wisconsin’s Daniel Lester. Lester, a sophomore from Australia who has two national-best times this year, won both butterfly events as well as the 400 IM. This leaves Lester with four top-11 nationally ranked times at the end of the weekend.
Arizona has back-to-back dual meets against USC (men and women) and UCLA (women only) next weekend before heading to the Texas Invite. Wisconsin’s next dual is against Northwestern, and they too will then head to Austin.
USC played rude hosts at their annual major diving invitational, where Harrison Jones and Victoria Ishimatsu won 5 out of 6 events. This lines up well for both teams to score big on the boards in March…The Cal women spent some time at the Olympic Training Center before knocking off Colorado State 134.5-104.5 on Teri McKeever’s birthday weekend.