Tennessee Sweeps Relays to Give ‘Dawgs All They Can Handle on Night 1 of Women’s SEC Championships

Night 1 of the 2013 Women’s NCAA Championships at the IUPUI natatorium in Indianapolis will have 6 finals:

  • 200 Free Relay
  • 500 Free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Free
  • 3 Meter Diving
  • 400 Medley Relay

The story of the morning is the Georgia Bulldogs moving up, and only one team seeming poised to go with them: the Tennessee Volunteers. The Arizona Wildcats, though, are making a play to punch out some serious relay points. With Margo Geer swimming just two individuals, and presumably five relays, at this meet, the Wildcats become contenders to play spoiler and steal a lot of the 6-per-relay bonus points that will go to the winners of each event: points that both Cal and Georgia could really use to establish their dominance in this meet.

Live results: http://www.swmeets.com/Realtime/NCAA/2013/
Live streaming: http://www.ihigh.com/indianasportscorp/.
Updowns after completion of day 1 of meet: http://swimswam.com/womens-ncaas-day-1-updowns-dawgs-pick-up-an-a-finalist-aggies-slip-in-prelims/

Women’s 200 Free Relay – Final

The Tennessee 200 Free Relay celebrates their victory on Thursday night. (Photo Courtesy: Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

The Tennessee 200 Free Relay celebrates their victory on Thursday night. (Photo Courtesy: Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

Tennessee and Georgia, the only teams with two swimmers in the A-Final of the 200 free relay, went 1-2 in this 200 free relay. Fast forward to the final leg. Arizona had the lead, but they front-stacked their relay with Margo Geer leading them off in 21.71. Tennessee was 2nd, and Georgia was 3rd.

First Arizona went by the wayside. That left it to the Vols and the Bulldogs to battle for the victory. A pair of superstars on the anchors: Kelsey Floyd against Megan Romano. Floyd split a 21.48 to hold off Romano and give the Volunteers the win in 1:27.14. Romano, meanwhile, was a 21.08 (unable to recreate her 20.9 from SEC’s) and the Bulldogs were 2nd in 1:27.38.

Believe-it-or-not, with all of the great swimmers and Olympians that have come through their program, that is the first relay victory in the history of the Tennessee women’s swimming program.

Arizona settled for 3rd in 1:27.51, with Stanford 4th in 1:27.90. Maddy Schaefer led them off in 22.01, with sub-22 splits coming from Andi Murez and Felicia Lee. Cal was 5th in 1:28.31, and a 21.72 anchor from Cal. They probably knew this wasn’t a winnable relay for them, but I think they’ll leave feeling like they could have been a little faster.

Texas A&M woke up in this finals session a little bit and won the B-Final in 1:28.89 – bettering their season-best time. The Aggies had a challenging first session, but early in these finals they look like they’ve refocused and are ready to turn things around. They subbed in Breeja Larson as the anchor of that relay, and she anchored in a crucial 21.96. With that swim, Larson established herself as the leader on this team for this meet; she seems determined to drag them to their full potential.

Women’s 500 Free – Final

USC's Haley Anderson gave a boost to Tennessee's title hopes when she knocked off the powerful Georgia group to repeat as the 500 free national champion (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

USC’s Haley Anderson gave a boost to Tennessee’s title hopes when she knocked off the powerful Georgia group to repeat as the 500 free national champion (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

We watch a lot of 500 freestyles here at SwimSwam. This was the best 500 freestyle race that I’ve ever watched, with 7 swimmers in this final coming into-and-out-of contention. At the finish, though, it was USC’s Haley Anderson who repeated as NCAA Champion in 4:34.66. She wasn’t the fastest through the middle portion of this race, but she was the fastest to 200 yards, and had the best last 50. In a middle-distance race like this, those are the keys.

Her winning time was 4:34.66; even with an arguably better field this year, that’s actually a few tenths slower than her winning time from last season. The race was very tactical though. She pushed harder than she usually does early in the race; this one was all about placing, not records.

Meanwhile, we saw one more example of why it’s so hard to win four career titles in the same event at this meet. Allison Schmitt had never lost this 500 free (she won it her first three years before last year’s redshirt), but finished 6th in this race in 4:36.73. This is the second-straight season that we’ve seen a Georgia swimmer with a chance at pulling off four-straight, but coming up short (Wendy Trott was runner-up in the mile last season).

Aside from not getting the win, this race still went very well for Georgia, however. Amber McDermott, who led with 100 yards to go, was 2nd overall in 4:34.86 and Shannon Vreeland was 3rd in 4:35.95.

Arizona freshman Bonnie Brandon is becoming more-and-more known for these distance freestyles, in addition to her primary 200 backstroke. She was 4th in 4:35.96. Such an impressive time here means big potential for that 200 back on Saturday – perhaps even mixing it up with the likes of Pelton and Beisel for gold.

Indiana’s Lindsay Vrooman was 5th in 4:36.41, and UNC’s Danielle Siverling ran out of steam on her last 100 to finish 7th in 4:37.57.

Tennessee’s Lindsay Gendron looked like she still had a lot of adrenaline going from the relay win, but after 250 yards was pretty much gassed and finished 8th.

Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry gave the Aggies a second B-Final win in as many events, swimming a 4:36.53. She sort of got hung on a slow heat in the morning, but even this time is shy of the 4:33 she was mid-season.

Florida’s Jess Thielmann was 10th overall in 4:38.10. Both Georgia and Cal moved up a few spots in that B-Final.

Women’s 200 IM – Final

Liz Pelton (left) and Caitlin Leverenz (right) embrace calmly after going 1-2 in the 200 IM: a big boost to the Bears' three-peat title chance. (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

Liz Pelton (left) and Caitlin Leverenz (right) embrace calmly after going 1-2 in the 200 IM: a big boost to the Bears’ three-peat title chance. (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

Just as Georgia had their day in the 500 free, the Cal Golden Bears fought back to show that they’re still the defending champions until they’re beaten. Caitlin Leverenz jumped way up from prelims and won the NCAA title with a 1:53.39, followed by her freshman teammate Liz Pelton in 1:53.82.

Leverenz once again won this race on the breaststroke, but it wasn’t how she’s done it in past years. Her split on that third 50 was 32.11 – almost exactly a second slower than she was at this meet last year. The result was a pace far off of her NCAA record pace from last year of 1:51.77.

Stanford’s Maya DiRado went out very hard in this race; under American Record pace at the halfway mark in fact. Her breaststroke seed was only 6th-best, though, and she couldn’t muster up enough energy to hold off Pelton at the touch. She was 3rd in 1:53.86. In three attempts at this race for the junior, she’s been on the podium three times (2nd in 2011, 3rd last season).

USC’s Stina Gardell was 4th in 1:54.49, and Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel 5th in 1:54.65. Beisel continues to have a hard time on day 1 of these NCAA Championship meets, though this is still markedly better luck than she had as a freshman and a sophomore.

Just as Cal moved up, Georgia took some spots too, with Melanie Marglis touching 6th in 1:54.71 (she was the last swimmer into the A-Final this morning.)

Columbia’s Katie Meili was 7th in 1:54.72, which rebroke her own Ivy League Record.

Notre Dame sophomore Emma Reaney won the B-Final for the 2nd-straight season, this time with a 1:55.06 – faster than she was last year. Her focus as a junior and senior will have to be getting those times going in the morning. North Carolina’s Cari Blalock was 10th overall in 1:55.86 – which was another second off of her previous best coming into the meet. She dropped a total of three seconds in the two rounds of this race combined.

Women’s 50 Free – Final

Arizona's Margo Geer flashes a "WC" after the Wildcat won her first career NCAA Championship in the 50 free (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

Arizona’s Margo Geer flashes a “WC” after the Wildcat won her first career NCAA Championship in the 50 free (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

Arizona’s Margo Geer matched exactly her 50 freestyle prelims swim, posting another 21.73 in the 50 free for her first career NCAA title (either individually or as a relay).

After a lot of shaking back-and-forth, this 50 free final went fairly close to expectation, especially at the top. Georgia’s Megan Romano was 2nd in 21.88, but then in a bit of a surprise it was Tennessee’s Faith Johnson who took 3rd in 21.89 – just a freshman.

Tennessee reaffirmed that relay victory from earlier in the meet with two swimmers in the top four of this 50 freestyle; Caroline Simmons tied for 4th in 22.01 with Stanford sophomore Maddy Schaefer.

Wisconsin’s Ivy Martin was 6th in 22.03, followed by Kasey Carlson and Chantal van Landeghem from USC, and Georgia, respectively.

The only swimmer who didn’t match-or-improve her prelims swim was Schaefer, and she was off by just a minuscule .02.

Natalie Hinds, a Florida freshman, won the B-Final in 22.12, making this a “true flighting,” where the whole A beat the whole B. That’s pretty rare at these NCAA Championship meets.

Tiffany Oliver gave Florida State a little bit of a lift by getting her hand on the wall in 22.23 for 10th; Arizona’s Megan Lafferty was 11th in 22.33.

1 Meter Diving – Final

Arizona’s Sam Pickens made it two-straight for the Wildcats, winning the women’s 1-meter springboard title with a score of 348.45. She front-loaded her most difficult dives and handled them beautifully; on her easiest dives she was unable to really get big awards from the judges, but it was on those middle-of-the-road numbers that she made her way to this title. That included finishing with a 61.20 on an inward 1 1/2 somersault pike.

Minnesota’s Maggie Keefer, the Big Ten champion, took 2nd in 338.20. For Tennessee, things continued to break their way: Jodie McGroarty was diving her first ever NCAA final as a senior, and came through with a clutch 3rd-place performance in 335.75. That just held off UMass’ Michaela Butler by three-tenths of a point for the podium finish.

Missouri’s Loren Figueroa was 5th in 327.55, with Tori Lamp, also from Tennessee, 6th in 312.10.

Diving results can be seen here.

Women’s 400 Medley Relay – Final

The Tennessee 400 Medley Relay victory was another big upset on night 1, though it probably shouldn't have been. (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

The Tennessee 400 Medley Relay victory was another big upset on night 1, though it probably shouldn’t have been. (Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

The Tennessee women knew what needed to happen to change this 400 medley from “disappointing” at SEC’s to “magnificent” at NCAA’s. They needed a better breaststroke leg to give Kelsey Floyd a chance to run down Texas A&M, and to give Lindsay Gendron a chance to hold off Margo Geer. They needed Lauren Solernour to stay close and go under 53 on the backstroke leg.

Both of those things happened. Solernou was a 52.88, and sophomore M0lly Hannis was a 57.38 on the breaststroke. By the time Kelsey Floyd and her best-in-the-field 50.98 butterfly leg, Lindsay Gendron anchored in 47.27 as the Volunteers took their second ever relay win in 3:28.51 – just missing the American Record by two-tenths.

(Editor’s digression – How about the Volunteers taking their first ever relay victory to start the session, and then their 2nd to end the session? It reminds me of the 2010 Texas A&M team, who got their first ever individual swimming national title from Julia Wilkinson in the 100 free, and then the very next race got their 2nd from Alia Atkinson in the 200 breaststroke).

Arizona, meanwhile, took 2nd in 3:28.83. They had four very good legs in their relay of Lauren SmartEllyn BaumgardnerMegan Lafferty, and Margo Geer; they just couldn’t find the few tenths they needed here-or-there to pick up the win. Geer had the only sub-47 anchor of the field, finishing in a 46.61 (with a great reaction time).

Cal was 3rd in 3:29.47, with Bootsma splitting 51.27 on the butterfly leg. Stanford placed 4th after swapping out Maddy Schaefer for Maya DiRado on the backstroke. The result was about an eight-tenths of a second faster of a result.

A&M would end up 5th after leading halfway, touching in 3:30.63. Breeja Larson split 57.24 on the breaststroke leg – just a tenth faster than Tennessee’s Hannis, and the two had about equal reaction times. That should mean another great 100 battle between the two on Friday.

Georgia was just 6th, even with a 47.0 anchor from Allison Schmitt, and Texas was 7th in 3:32.35. Sarah Denninghoff was a 51.90 leadoff for the Longhorns.

Auburn won the B-Final in 3:31.40.

Team Standings

Stay tuned for a more complete analysis of team standings, but for now, here is the top 10 after one day of competition:

1. Georgia 163
2. Tennessee 150.5
3. Arizona 127
4. California 102
5. Stanford 90.5
6. Southern Cal 90
7. Florida 74
8. Texas A&M 72
9. Texas 65
10. Minnesota 41

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7 years ago

That 5 Free ruined my Pick ’em predictions… Allison Schmitt -____-

Reply to  Niemannator
7 years ago

same… had sarah henry there too

Reply to  LNeidigh
7 years ago

I had Schmitt, Henry, Anderson. Also the 200 IM I had Leverenz, Beisel, Pelton.
Whats up with all the Olympic medalists not fulfilling my predictions?

Reply to  Niemannator
7 years ago

Maybe the post Olympic year slowed them down a bit.

Reply to  Niemannator
7 years ago

Yeah, post-Olympic let-down, some of them had to taper for short-course worlds, etc.. By the way, I just watched the video on Leverenz, she has a cold. She was lucky to eke out the victory over Pelton.

7 years ago

Missy Franklin did a 4.34.62 a few weeks ago and had no one pushing her…will be interesting to see what Teri has her swim….

7 years ago

Cal’s drop to 5th place in the 200 Free relay must be disappointing for the Bears. They will have to HUGE day tomorrow if they want to get back into the meet. Right now, I don’t think they have enough guns to put them into contention against Georgia. Kudos to the Bulldogs for their AM finishes (2) 8th place qualifiers helps a lot. Momentum is definitely with GA.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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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