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WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana, March 20. WHILE Stanford claimed the final event title, the Florida Gators had the ultimate victory for the NCAA team title thanks to an unbelievable comeback triumph after an amazing morning of qualifying.
Stanford's Kate Dwelley, Sam Woodward, Betsy Webb and Julia Smit did what they had to do to try to give Stanford the overall title by winning with a pool record 3:12.32. That performance beat the 3:13.56 set by Georgia back in 2005.
"Going into the last relay the only thing we could do is win," Smit said. "That's the most points we could score, so that was definitely our goal. It's our coach's first relay win of her career, so we are really happy to give that to her."
Florida, however, kept it close enough to ensure the team title with a third-place effort of 3:13.43 by Elizabeth Kemp, Shara Stafford, Gemma Spofforth and Jamie Bohunicky. California split the difference as Hannah Wilson, Sara Isakovic, Erica Dagg and Liv Jensen wound up second in 3:12.67.
The event win is Stanford's eighth in the history of the 400 free relay, with previous wins in 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1994-97.
Florida, meanwhile, claimed its second team national title with 382 points, and its first since 1982 when Florida beat Stanford, 505-383. Stanford finished second overall with 379.5 points, just 2.5 points behind. While close, it's not the smallest margin of victory ever as Georgia owns that NCAA record with a 1.5-point victory over Stanford, 389 to 387.5, in 2001. The triumph is Gregg Troy's initial team title as well.
"This was really a team effort and there was no room for error," Troy said. "When Gemma took second in the 200 back, we had other performances that made up for it, like Teresa Crippen's third-place back finish and then fifth in the 200 fly. We had tremendous efforts all around and our divers were outstanding under Donnie. Our coaching staff has done a tremendous job. Not only Martyn (Wilby), Donnie (Craine) and Leah (Stancil) here, but Pete (Knox) and Anthony (Nesty) who are with our men right now, all played a big part in what happened this week.
"This was a Cinderella weekend for us. I just can't say enough," Troy
continued. "We kept focus on what we wanted to do. It feels great. In the final relay, we wanted to make sure we had solid starts and raced fast. We have been knocking on the door for a few years now and we've always had a big desire to excel."
Florida completed the remarkable final day surge as it qualified seven swimmers and divers into the championship final of their respective events, and put its relay into the final heat as well.
California (363), Arizona (359.5) and Georgia (342.5) rounded out the top five in one of the most exciting final finishes in NCAA history. Texas A&M (311), Southern California (342.5), Auburn (153), Virginia (151) and Indiana (133) earned the rest of the top 10 team spots.
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