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AUBURN, Alabama, March 15. IN what the crowd reacted to as a huge upset, California's Liv Jensen upended defending Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of Auburn for the women's 50 free title at the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.
Jensen raced to victory in 21.48, the 14th-fastest time ever, to shave .02 seconds from her fourth-ranked lifetime best of 21.50 from NCAAs last year. Jensen became just the fourth swimmer under 21.5 with Lara Jackson (21.27), Vanderpool-Wallace (21.34) and Natalie Coughlin (21.46) the only other swimmers to best the time. Vanderpool-Wallace actually faded to third with a 21.65, as Arizona's Margo Geer earned runner-up honors in 21.64 to move into a seventh-place tie with Dara Torres for all time in the event's history.
The win returned the title to Jensen, as she previously won in 2010 before falling to Vanderpool-Wallace in 2011. The win is California's third as the only other Golden Bear to win the sprint free was Conny Van Bentum with a 23.18 back in 1985.
“Honestly, I have been thinking about [the race] for a long time,” Jensen said. “The way I think about it is, people say she's the defending champion, but no one had won this race yet. I knew I could do it, and I knew I had the motivation. She is a great racer, and it was a great race.”
Stanford's Elizabeth Webb (21.78), Missouri's Shara Stafford (21.79), Stanford's Samantha Woodward (21.99), Wisconsin's Rebecca Thompson (22.16) and Tennessee's Caroline Simmons (22.18) rounded out the top eight.
Florida's Sarah Bateman won the consolation heat with a 21.89. Miami's Kelsi Hall (22.13), Auburn's Hannah Riordan (22.15), Stanford's Madeline Schaefer (22.26), Liberty's Bryeanna Ravettine (22.30), Texas' Kelsey Amundsen (22.50), UNLV's Rachel Dixon (22.58) and Penn State's Paige Whitmire (22.72) made up the rest of the B final.
California bounced into the team lead with 92 points, while Stanford held second with 89 points. Georgia (77), Southern California (76) and Arizona (58) made up the top five after the splash-and-dash.
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