The meat of the 2014 Pac-12 Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships got underway on Thursday in Federal Way, Washington with the women’s 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and 3-meter springboard diving events.
This meet didn’t really have a clear tone in the first two sessions (Wednesday finals and Thursday prelims) like some of the other meets this weekend (Big Ten, ACC), and so we’ll look for that in tonight’s finals. Partially, that’s been because of how balanced this meet was on the first night, and was again on Thursday in the early session.
In the women’s 500 free, Arizona sophomore Bonnie Brandon began her meet with a 4:39.86 in the 500 free. If we presume that Brandon, who is already well-qualified for NCAA’s, is mostly training heavily through this meet as Arizona has done in the past, that’s a big opening individual swim for her to take the top seed.
USC’s Chelsea Chenault was the 2nd seed in 4:40.30, and Oregon State’s top swimmer Sammy Harrison knocked almost four seconds off of her lifetime best for a 4:42.03 and the 3rd seed.
Cal’s Melanie Klaren (4:42.20) and Missy Franklin (4:42.47) rounded out the top 5. The 6th seed goes to Utah’s Sami Zuch with a 4:43.38, which is a monstrous improvement over the 27th-place finish she had last year; remember that a female middle-distance freestyler is where Utah coach Joe Dykstra had such an impact at North Texas with their first NCAA qualifier last season when he was the head coach there.
Arizona State’s Tristin Baxter was 7th in 4:43.84, and UCLA’s Ally Loper was 8th in 4:44.20. Among other noteworthy times outside of the A final was Arizona freshman Tjasa Oder, who improved her season (and lifetime) bests by more than 6 seconds with a 4:44.77 for the 10th seed.
In the 200 IM, there was a tight grouping of five swimmers at the top of the seeding, all of whom could win this title. That starts with USC senior Stina Gardell (1:56.09) and Stanford senior Felicia Lee (1:56.59). Last year’s NCAA runner-up from Cal, Liz Pelton, is the 3rd seed in 1:56.65, and her teammate Celina Li sits 4th in 1:56.81.
Maya DiRado, who was the top seed coming in, is the 5th seed in 1:57.45.
This race is where Cal’s depth really shows. They’ve got half of the A-final, none of them seniors, with junior Caroline Piehl taking the 6th seed in 1:57.75 and Kelly Naze taking the 8th seed in 1:57.96.
Sitting in between them is USC’s Jasmine Tosky in 1:57.77.
Closing out the swimming in the morning session (the 200 free relay won’t be swum until finals) was a 22.00 from USC’s Kasey Carlson for the top seed in the 50 free, followed by a tie for 2nd between Stanford’s Maddy Schaefer and Arizona’s defending NCAA Champion Margo Geer in 22.07.
Both USC and Stanford put two swimmers in the top five seeds in this race, which should set up for a great 200 free relay in finals. Stanford freshman Lia Neal took 4th in 22.20, and USC’s Katarzyna Wilk was 5th in 22.28.
The 6th seed, and top Cal swimmer in the prelims, was freshman Farida Osman, followed by UCLA’s Linnea Mack (22.45) and Utah’s Traycie Swartz (22.47).
A 3rd USC Trojan is atop the A-final in 22.54 as the 9th seed.
Without diving included (we don’t have results for prelims of the women’s 3-meter yet) ups/mids/downs sit as follows:
Note: Ups means A finalists, Mids means B finalists, and Downs means C finalists. This is a quick way to look at who is positioned to score what points, given that there can be a lot of movement in finals at these meets.
USC – 5 up/4 mid/3 down
Stanford – 4 up/5 mid/7 down
Cal – 7 up/4 mid
Arizona – 2 up/3 mid/3 down
Utah – 2 up/2 mid/3 down
UCLA – 2 up/5 mid/3 down
Arizona St. – 1 up/3 down
Oregon St. – 1 up/1 down
Washington St. – 1 mid/1 down