Event coverage sponsored by SpeedoUSA
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, March 21. WITH all of the talk surrounding which Georgia Bulldog would win the 500 freestyle on the first night of NCAA finals, USC's defending champion Haley Anderson likely felt a bit overlooked.
While there was some logic coming into the meet that Olympic star Allison Schmitt would reclaim her title after an Olympic redshirt ended her three-year run as the champ, Anderson had her own Olympic pedigree as an Olympic silver medalist in open water.
In one of the most exciting 500 frees finales ever, Anderson ripped off a time of 4:34.66 to win her second career gold medal in the event. That time fell just off her winning time of 4:34.48 from last year, but gave USC its fifth title in the middle-distance free. Anderson also became just the 10th swimmer to ever win duplicate 500 free titles. Lindsay Benko is the only other Trojan to do so, having won three in 1996, 1997 and 1999.
Georgia's Amber McDermott raced to second in 4:34.86, falling by just .20 seconds. That's close, but not the closest ever in the event's history. Florida's Nicolas Haislett owns that record with a .05-second triumph ahead of Tennessee's Leslie Vix in 1994, 4:43.36 to 4:43.41. Georgia's Shannon Vreeland rounded out the top three with a 4:35.95. Schmitt finished a surprising sixth with a 4:36.73 as she faded badly down the stretch.
Arizona's Bonnie Brandon (4:35.96), Indiana's Lindsay Vrooman (4:36.41), North Carolina's Danielle Siverling (4:37.57) and Tennessee's Lindsay Gendron (4:41.69) put up the rest of the championship finale times.
Texas A&M's Sarah Henry, the top seed heading into the meet, found some redemption in the B final after missing the top eight. She rolled to a 4:36.53 to win the consolation heat.
Georgia jumped to a big lead after a monster event, ending the second event with 90 points. Tennessee stood second with 51 points, while Arizona (47), USC (46) and California (33) rounded out the top five.