This recap is being updated live as the meet happens. It will be finalized with scores after the meet is over. For up-to-the-minute analysis, follow @braden_keith on Twitter.
The final night of the NCAA Championships may or may not live up to the high standard of the second night, where 4 NCAA Records were broken, but day 3 is title night. Titles are won and lost on this final day, and huge recruiting tools are gained or lost with every position in between.
The race-within-the-race on this final night was for Swimmer of the Meet honors. Katinka Hosszu of USC, Megan Romano of Georgia, and Caitlin Leverenz of Cal each entered this meet with one NCAA Record, one win, and one runner-up finish in this meet. The final day was hopefully to serve as a tie-breaker in that battle, with a record meaning basically automatically taking the honor. Romano didn’t win her final-day individual event, but was the most important relay swimmer of the trio. Leverenz and Hosszu both won, but neither broke a record (though one of the two was very close).
Stay tuned for tomorrow, as we’ll hand out some awards, wrap up thoughts on the meet, and begin really tearing into the men’s competition.
Women’s 1650 Free
The four-peat for Georgia’s Wendy Trott was not to be on this final day of competition, though the record-breaking did get to a successful early start. Not only did North Carolina sophomore Stephanie Peacock pull an upset, she broke the NCAA Record that was held by the legend Janet Evans for 22 years to the day – the oldest record on the books. Peacock touched for the win in 15:38.75 to break Evans’ 15:39.14.
That means that Peacock broke a record that was set before she was even born. That’s amazing given the progressions that have been made in swimming. It’s even more impressive considering that this mile is a new event for Peacock this year. Up until this season, the longest she went comfortably was the 500 free (though she’s showed a lot of potential in that race too). Her meteoric rise is almost unbelievable. She had only swum this race a handful of times in her life until this year, and now she’s the fastest collegian in history. She doesn’t have the traditional smooth distance-swimmer’s stroke, but she can fight for almost 16 minutes to an unbelievable swim.
Trott can’t be too disappointed by the result, though. She put herself in a great position to win by hanging with Peacock throughout the race (even with Peacock pushing the pace early), She touched in 15:38.94, which is also under the old NCAA Record. Trott swam her race, but this year it just wasn’t enough.
This is the third race of the meet where multiple swimmers have broken the NCAA Record.
This mile was supposed to be the best race for USC’s Haley Anderson, the 500 champion, but oddly she didn’t have the endurance and fell off of this pace fairly early in the race. She would take 3rd in 15:43.44. That puts her 7th on the all-time list.
Minnesota’s Ashley Steenvoorden took 4th in 15:44, but she was forced to swim out of the morning heats in this race. She would’ve been within striking distance of 3rd with any sort of target. Georgia’s Amber McDermott took 5th in 15:51, and Cal ended without any scorers, which put the Bulldogs back in the team competition as they would pull within 33 points of the lead.
Further down, A&M got two big scorers in Maureen McLaine in 7th (15:57) and Ashley Adams in 13th (16:21). Adams is the twin sister of Cammile Adams, and has proven to be a real bonus pickup for Steve Bultman. Auburn also picked up a pair from a 15th-place swim by Katie Gardocki.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel was well in control of this race. At least she thought she was, until the 175 yard mark where she saw Stanford’s Maya DiRado in lane 1 turning nearly-identically with her. But Beisel had just enough time to really turn her jets on and take her first NCAA Championship with a win in 1:50.58. Like we saw from her in the 400 IM, she failed to beat her time from the SEC Championships so there was some disappointment with the time (she said as much in post-race interviews), but it was a positive ending for what has been a tough meet for Beisel (including that now-infamous DQ in her first race).
DiRado would finish second in 1:51.42, and breaks her own Stanford record by half-a-second.
Missouri’s Dominique Bouchard, so well-known for her back half speed, was able to drop time from prelims (and had the best closing 100), but the full-second deficit to Beisel was too much for even her to overcome. She touched 3rd in 1:51.68. With Missouri’s relays making big improvements, Bouchard had a lot more responsibilities at this year’s meet than last, so swimming this well at the end is still good to see.
Florida’s Teresa Crippen took 5th in 1:53.00. She’s capable of way faster than that, so it felt like she may have been saving up her speed for the 200 fly final. Virginia freshman Ellen Williamson took 6th in 1:54.04, continuing in a good recent tradition for the Cavaliers in the backstroke races.
Notre Dame’s Kelly Ryan, part of a young Irish core in South Bend, took 7th in 1:54.16.
Women’s 100 Free
Aside from those cheering for the girls she beat, I think that every college swimming fan has to be happy for the way this 100 free turned out. Auburn’s Anna Vanderpool-Wallace, after struggling for most of this meet, finally got her NCAA Title in her last individual chance with a 46.88 win in this 100 free.
The difference between the Vanderpool-Wallace we saw in this race and the one we saw in the rest of the meet was her turns. Even though she was in a dead-heat at the final turn against the much-bigger Megan Romano, You could see an intensity in Wallace’s final push. The technique didn’t even look that great underwater, but it worked for her. She held her speed without tightening up, and drilled her way to a winning mark of 46.88. Though that’s not the fastest time ever, it is the fastest time to ever win an NCAA Title.
The Pac-12 may be the best conference in the country, but the SEC has the most free speed – the conference has won 7 NCAA Titles in this 100 free since 2000.
Not that Romano’s swim was anything short of spectacular either. She touched in 47.01, and is now the 3rd-fastest 100 yard freestyler in history (and a Georgia Record). Arizona’s Margo Geer took 3rd in 47.14, which is a new Arizona Record. Karlee Bispo broke the Texas record in 47.41.
50-meter champion Liv Jensen took only 5th in this 100 free in 47.69. Would have expected a bit faster from her after the 200 she had, but this is the first less-than-awesome she’s had this entire meet.
The entire A-final of this race was under 48 seconds (as was B-Final winner Betsy Webb of Stanford in 47.99). That’s the first time in history that has ever happened, including the rubber-suited year of 2009 (which suddenly doesn’t look all that fast). Stanford looked really good headed towards the 400 free relay with the 8-9-10 finishers in this 100 freestyle.
Women’s 200 Breast
Just like we talked about in the 200 IM, where Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz crushed the NCAA Record, if you can’t beat her headed into the last 50 breaststroke, then you can’t beat her. That showed up again in this 200, where she dominated the field in 2:04.76. She had the best opening 100 (1:00.43) and the best closing 100 (1:04.33) to touch in 2:04.76. That’s excruciatingly close to a new NCAA and American Record, just missing Rebecca Soni’s 2:04.75. She’ll have another year to get that record, but if she doesn’t i+t’s going to hurt for a little while.
Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson was the 2nd seed after prelims, but she looked like a whole different swimmer in this race. It appeared as though, by trying to go faster, she ended up going slower. She was about 3 yards shorter on her start (she was at or just beyond the 15-yard mark in prelims), and looked much less relaxed here than she was in the morning. She was a second slower on the front 100 alone. This looked like a case of a swimmer overthinking her race, and was maybe a reminder that Larson, for as good as she is, is still an inexperienced swimmer. The longer the race is, the more experience counts.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Haley Spencer, the defending Champion, was just the opposite. For the 2nd year in a row, Spencer came from behind to nip Larson (though this time for 2nd) with a 2:07.24. Larson was 3rd in 2:07.44.
Louisville’s Gisselle Kohoyda was 4th in 2:07.87.
Purdue freshman Emily Fogle has torn up the school record books this season, and she rebroke this record once again with a 2:08.28 to win the B-Final.
Women’s 200 Fly
Katinka Hosszu was very patient in this race through 75-yards – well behind her winning pace from last year. But it was a confident patience. She lurked for the first part of the race, but on the turn at the 100 yard mark (she is very fast from through walls from hands to feet) she took the lead, and it was pretty evident that she wasn’t going to give it back. This record was never in danger, but Hosszu cruised to a comfortable win at the end of an emotional meet in 1:51.32. That’s three-tenths faster than she was last year, in what was a much more mature swim.
She passes the eye test as being in much better physical shape than she’s ever been before (she’s slimmed down a lot for the Olympic year), and she’s now a good contender for her first Olympic medal.
Texas A&M’s Cammile Adams repeated in 2nd with a 1:52.40 (a new school record). She still didn’t live up quite to the long course standard she set at this year’s Austin Grand Prix, but she will be a big-time favorite in this race next year as a junior.
Tennessee’s Kelsey Floyd held on strong for 3rd in 1:54.28, joining the great Tennessee 200 fly tradition. She beat Cal’s Sara Isakovic in 1:54.38. Tanya Krisman gave USC a second swimmer in the top 5 in 1:54.64, and Caroline McElhaney of A&M was 6th in 1:55.23.
Florida’s Teresa Crippen finished a disappointing 8th in this race to end her college career. She was visibly upset by the result on the post-race medal stand.
The B-Final was won by West Virginia’s Amanda Nugent in 1:55.17.
Women’s Platform Diving
IUPUI’s Chen Ni took the platform title in 343.50, to match her win in the event as a sophomore in 2010. Ni, who has one of the most spectacular entries in the world, now has the only two NCAA Titles, in any sport, for IUPUI.
In 5th place was Cal’s Kahley Rowell. Cal coach Teri McKeever had to be pleased just having a diver in this meet, but to have Rowell make the top 5 on this platform (Cal doesn’t even have a platform, but travels twice a week to use Stanford’s) was huge for the Bears. She’s only their second NCAA qualifier ever, and first in 20 years, but she adds a new edge to this team. By simply finishing their 5 legal dives in this event, she clinched the National Title for the Cal Golden Bears, regardless of a DQ or anything else in the last race.
Women’s 400 Free Relay
The meet wasn’t in question, but there were some bragging rights up for grabs in this 400 free relay. Stanford didn’t have the superstar sprinter that the other top 5 in this race did, but they were so incredibly well-balanced that it didn’t matter. They went 48.25 (Sam Woodward), 47.61 (Maddie Schaeffer), 47.65 (Andi Murez), and 47.26 (Betsy Webb) to not only take away the event title from Georgia, but also take away their American Record in 3>10.77. That beat the Bulldogs’ 3:11.03 set at last year’s meet.
Georgia, meanwhile, finished 3rd in 3:11.56. They did get a 46.11 anchor from Romano – which is the 2nd-best relay split in history (after only her own anchor from the 400 free relay), but wasn’t enough to chase down either Stanford or Auburn. In uncharacteristic Georgia fashion, what they actually lacked in this race was enough freestyle depth to put that 4th leg together. Last year, they had enough to overcome that (with Schmitt and Morgan Scoggy as their bookends), but this year, it cost them.
Coming back and chasing-down Arizona anchor Margo Geer was Auburn’s Anna Vanderpool-Wallace in a 46.36 anchor (en route to a 3:11.49 team mark, .07 ahead of Georgia). Momentum is a wholly underrated value in college swimming, and Vanderpool-Wallace rode that momentum to a pair of fantastic swims at the close of this meet. That was huge for them, as combined with Tennessee’s 7th-place finish in this race, the result gave Auburn a 7th-place tie in the team-scoring race with their SEC foes.
Arizona finished 4th in 3:11.57. Geer led them off in a 47.40, and junior Monica Drake also had a great swim of 47.9.
Cal really had nothing to swim here for other than the title, but they still went fairly safe with their starts (after some controversy in prelims where some observed them jumping a start in this relay). On a 47.0 anchor from Jensen, they took 5th.
This meet was pretty much settled on the first day of competition. As often happens in these meets, the natural ebb of the meet brought the Bulldogs closer and further away, but the math never really was going to work out in their favor. Cal becomes incredibly scary now that they’ve found a diving program, and they took their 3rd title in 4 years.
USC capped an outstanding meet with a 3rd-place finish. This was the overall team performance that the Trojans needed at last year’s meet, when they entered as title contenders and with even more talent.
The top 5 at this year’s meet was identical to last year’s, with the pattern being broken only by A&M in 6th. The Aggies DQ’ed their 400 free relay, but it ultimately didn’t affect the final standings.
1. Cal Berkeley 412.5
2. Georgia 366
3. Southern Cali 325.5
4. Stanford 318
5. Arizona 299
6. Texas A&M 262
7. Auburn 249
7. Tennessee 249
9. Texas 201
10. Florida 160
Top 4 standings, in pictures: