Editorial coverage sponsored by SpeedoUSA
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, March 23. CALIFORNIA's Elizabeth Pelton came through with the swim of the meet, becoming the first swimmer to clear 1:48 in the 200-yard backstroke as she went out calm and brought it home fast at the NCAA Division I Women's Championships.
Pelton went out in 25.93, and 53.05, 1:20.46, and had enough left to put up a final 27.38 split to race to a sizzling time of 1:47.84. That's the first 1:47 in the history of the event, blasting Gemma Spofforth's NCAA and U.S. Open record of 1:48.34 set back in 2009 during the techsuit era. The time also bettered Pelton's American record of 1:48.39 set earlier this month at the Pacific 12 Championships. The crowd welcomed the swim with a standing ovation.
California has now won the 200-yard backstroke five times. Natalie Coughlin won in 2001, 2002 and 2003, while Helen Silver took home the 2006 title as well.
Missouri's Dominique Bouchard took home second-place honors with a 1:50.06 to move to seventh in event's history. That time bettered her preliminary effort of 1:50.94. Florida's Elizabeth Beisel wound up taking third in 1:51.17 after going out with Pelton at the 50-yard mark. Beisel already stands fifth in the event's history with a sterling 1:49.82.
USC's Kendyl Stewart (1:51.28), Stanford's Maya DiRado (1:51.34), Florida's Sinead Russell (1:51.87), Indiana's Brooklyn Snodgrass (1:52.12) and Texas' Sarah Denninghoff (1:53.72) also competed in the historic championship heat. Arizona's Bonnie Brandon raced to a 1:51.41 to win the B final, bettering her personal best of 1:51.49 and moving to 14th all time in the event.
Georgia remained in the lead with 329 points, while California cut the gap a bit with a second-place tally of 311. Tennessee (263.5), Arizona (255) and Texas A&M (249) made up the rest of the top five.