By Dan Mihalik
WEST LAFAYETTE, March 18. ARIZONA got off to a great start in the first heat of the first event on Day Two of the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Wildcats are the top seed in tonight’s finals after posting a new pool record of 1:38.75. The Georgia Bulldogs follow close behind as the second seed, only .01 seconds, and The Stanford Cardinal is the third seed, almost a second behind Arizona.
Arizona led from start to finish in heat number one, but was pushed early on by California and Penn State, but as the race progressed, the ‘Cats lead got bigger and bigger.
Georgia competed in the third heat and was trailing early to UCLA. But Georgia came back and overtook the Bruins and never trailed again. Stanford finished in second place of the third heat.
The Texas Longhorns are the fourth seed after winning heat two, while Penn State is fifth for tonight’s final. Southern Methodist is sixth while two SEC rivals are seventh and eighth, Auburn and Florida.
Olympic Champion and Auburn senior Kirsty Coventry showed why she is one of the top all-around swimmers in the world. In the 400 Individual Medley, Coventry earned the top seed for tonight’s final after a pool record performance of 4:09.69, which was almost two full seconds ahead of second seeded Emily Mason of Arizona, who won her heat with a time of 4:11.67.
The third seed is Leah Retrum of Florida, who won her heat after a very close race with Maryland senior Liz Lavell. Lavell qualified for tonight’s final in seventh position. Retrum’s teammate, Katie McCann will swim tonight as the eighth seed.
Adrienne Binder (Auburn), Joanna Maranhao (Florida), and Katie Carroll (Notre Dame) are seeded fifth, sixth and seventh for tonight’s 400 IM final.
Georgia will have two representatives in the 100 butterfly finals later tonight. Junior Mary Descenza set a pool record in her preliminary heat, finishing in 52.16, for the number one seed. Katie Yevak, a senior at Georgia, is seeded fifth after the morning prelims.
Tawnie Behune of Auburn is the second seed for tonight’s final after coming in second only to Descenza in her preliminary heat. Arizona sophomore Whitney Myers is seeded fourth while in state rival Caitlin Andrew of Arizona State is seeded seventh.
Candace Weiman of Florida will be ranked third going into the final tonight while Brooke Boncher of Richmond is sixth.
The SEC dominated the 200 freestyle as five of the eight swimmers represent the conference. It should be no surprise to hear the top two seeds for tonight’s final are from Georgia. Kara Lynn Joyce is the top seed after a pool record race of 1:45.95, while Amanda Weir is close behind as the second seed.
Two members of the Auburn Tigers are seeded in the finals. Margaret Hoelzer is seeded third while fellow Tiger Emily Kukors is in fifth position. The final SEC member is Caroline Burckle of Florida. She made the finals in eighth place, edging Arizona freshman Lacey Nymeyer for the final spot by .03 seconds.
However, Nymeyer’s teammate, Jessica Hayes did make the finals as she is seeded sixth. California senior Lauren Medina is seeded fourth and Michigan sophomore Lindsey Smith will swim toinight as the seven seed.
Another sprint final, another Georgia-heavy event. The 100 breaststroke features two more Bulldog swimmers as the top two seeds for tonight’s final. Lindsey Ertter set a new pool record and became only the 10th swimmer in history to break the 1-minute mark, as she swam her way to the top seed with a time of 59.80. Teammate Sarah Poewe is seeded second.
Caroline Bruce of Florida is the third seed, finishing ahead of two swimmers that are tied for fourth.
Two juniors, Vipa Bernhardt of Florida and Erin Briskie of Texas A&M, both finished their prelim swims with a time of 1:01.05. Rounding out the top eight for the 100 breaststroke are Elizabeth Tinnon of Texas, Laura Graham of Kentucky, and Agnes Kovacs of Arizona State.
For the first time in any event thus far, Georgia will not have a swimmer in the championship flight.
In the 100 backstroke prelims, it was Arizona’s turn to have a great event. The Wildcats have two swimmers in tonight’s final, both in the top three. Marshi Smith is the top overall seed after her swim of 52.88, while her Arizona counterpart, Jenna Gresdal is seeded third after her prelim swim of 53.41.
Auburn also has two swimmers in tonight’s final. Margaret Hoelzer is the second seed and teammate Jeri Moss is the fourth seed.
Virginia junior Brielle White is the fifth seed after finishing second in her heat with a time of 53.41. Florida’s Maureen Farrell is sixth while Katie Arnold of UCLA is seventh. Leila Vaziri of Indiana rounds out the top eight, finishing in eighth place.