By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, February 21. MORE than a dozen conference records fell at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Gainesville, headlined by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace's NCAA and U.S. Open record in the 100 free, to spark an exciting weekend of conference championship action. Here are a few highlights from some of the bigger meets. For complete results from all of the conference meets this weekend, check out the College Channel.
Atlantic Coast Conference
After trailing North Carolina by 37 points heading into the final day of competition, the Virginia Cavaliers mounted a furious comeback attempt in the final session and came away with their fourth consecutive and ninth overall women's ACC championship with 776 points. North Carolina (734) and Florida State (417) rounded out the top three teams.
Sophomore Lauren Perdue led the Cavaliers with two victories and was recognized as the meet's most outstanding swimmer for the second straight year. Her wins came in the 100 free (47.88) and 200 free (1:43.73)—both times were ACC and conference meet records. North Carolina's Carly Smith (100 back, 52.39; 200 back, 1:53.08) and Layne Brodie (200 IM, 1:57.56; 200 breast, 2:10.56) also won multiple events.
Big East Conference
Fired up by the home crowd in Louisville, the University of Louisville men's and women's teams swept the Big East conference championships on Saturday night. Notre Dame's streak of 14 consecutive conference titles, the longest conference championship streak in any sport and any league, came to an end as the Cardinal women won their first-ever conference championship. Notre Dame finished second behind Louisville's 820.5 points with 655.5, while West Virginia took third with 396 points.
The Louisville men, meanwhile, successfully defended their title from last year with 917 points, ahead of Notre Dame (713.5) and Pittsburgh (503). Seton Hall's Kevin Webster earned the men's swimmer of the meet award after winning the 400 IM (3:46.03) and 200 back (1:43.93), while West Virginia teammates Rachael Burnett and Amanda Nugent shared the women's swimmer of the meet award. Burnett won the 400 IM (4:14.41) and 500 free (4:43.04), while Nugent touched first in the 200 fly (1:57.00).
Big Ten Conference
For the third straight year, the Indiana Hoosiers have been crowned queens of the Big Ten Conference. The Hoosier women swam impressively in their home pool, easily knocking off Minnesota (578) and Ohio State (456) with 821 points. Allysa Vavra led the way for the Hoosiers with two victories in the 400 IM (4:04.59) and 200 IM (1:57.01). Her time in the longest distance is a new Big Ten, conference meet and pool record. Minnesota's Jillian Tyler also had an outstanding meet—she set two new Big Ten, conference meet and pool records in the 100 breast (58.08) and 200 breast (2:07.11). Her time in the 100 just missed Annie Chandler's NCAA record of 58.06 from last year. Wisconsin's Margaret Meyer (100 back, 51.99; 200 back, 1:52.07) and Minnesota's Ashley Steenvoorden (500 free, 4:37.66; 1650 free, 15:58.62) also won multiple events. Indiana head coach Ray Looze earned the Coach of the Year award after leading his team to the three-peat.
Fans at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville were treated to four days of record-breaking action as more than a dozen SEC records and one NCAA record fell during the meet. In the women's meet, Georgia came out ahead with 720 points, topping defending NCAA champion Florida (678) and Auburn (563). Meanwhile, the Auburn men won a nail-biter with Florida, 799-782. Tennessee finished third with 602.5 points.
Conor Dwyer and the Florida men got the meet off to a fast start as Dwyer led off the Gators' 800 free relay with a 1:31.73, just .01 off David Walters' American and NCAA record. Florida finished the relay in 6:13.74, an SEC record. Just minutes later, the Georgia quartet of Morgan Scroggy, Chelsea Nauta, Melanie Margalis and Allison Schmitt erased Auburn's American record in the 800 free relay with a 6:53.58. Scroggy led off the relay with an SEC record of 1:42.60, which she later lowered in the individual event to 1:42.46.
Dwyer continued his incredible meet with two more SEC records in the 500 free (4:11.36) and 400 IM (3:37.75). He earned the SEC Male Swimmer of the Year award and tied with Auburn's Dan Mazzaferro for the overall high point award at the meet. Scroggy added another SEC record and win to her collection with a 1:54.58 showing in the women's 200 IM, while Elizabeth Beisel downed the SEC record in the longer medley with a time of 4:00.83. LSU's Jane Trepp (100 breast, 58.94), South Carolina's Amanda Rutqvist (200 breast, 2:08.56) and Georgia's Mark Dylla (200 fly, 1:41.35) also downed SEC records in their respective individual events. Tennessee's Jennifer Connolly, Martina Moravcikova, Kelsey Floyd and Lindsay Gendron also lowered the SEC record in the women's 400 medley relay with a 3:30.90.
Auburn's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace may have provided the biggest fireworks of the competition, as she put on a sprint free clinic in the 50 and 100. In the 50, she lowered the SEC record and just missed the NCAA record with a 21.34, the fastest time in the nation by a lot. She followed that performance with a jaw-dropping 46.81 in the 100 free prelims, a new NCAA, SEC and US Open record. Natalie Coughlin held the previous NCAA (47.00) and US Open (46.85) records. Vanderpool-Wallace went on to match that time in finals and earned the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year award for her efforts.
University Athletic Association
It was a familiar scene at the 2011 University Athletic Association Championships in Rochester, New York, as the Emory men and women swept the team titles for the 13th year in a row. The men (1,981 points) finished atop Carnegie Mellon (1,214.5) and Chicago (1,158), while the women flew by Chicago (1,277.5) and Carnegie Mellon (1,110) with a conference record 2, 144.5 points. Emory swept the individual awards as well as Liz Horvat, Matt Spooner, Ross Spock, Daniel Kolb, John Howell and Alex Kossenkov collected the women's, men's, rookie, diver, head coach and diving coach of the year awards, respectively. Horvat won the 500 free (4:52.65) and 400 IM (4:18.48) in new UAA records, along with the 1,650 free (16:53.88), while Spooner touched the wall first in the 200 IM (1:51.90) and 400 IM (4:01.08, UAA record).