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AUBURN, Alabama, March 15. JUST clipping the pool record set by Shannon Vreeland during prelims (4:34.49), Southern California's Haley Anderson surged to victory in the women's 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Anderson threw down a 4:34.48, the 15th-fastest time ever in the event, to jump to eighth all time in the event's history.
The win is Southern California's fourth all time in the event, returning the title to the Pacific 12 for the first time since Emily Mason went back-to-back for Arizona in 2004 and 2005. Ever since, the Southeastern Conference has owned the title. Lindsay Benko (now Mintenko) previously won for USC in 1996, 1997 and 1999 for the other USC triumphs in the 500 free.
Georgia's Amber McDermott, a Swimming World six-star recruit heading to UGA as a freshman this year, raced to second in 4:35.09. That time missed her 10th-ranked lifetime best of 4:34.55 set in December of last year. North Carolina's Stephanie Peacock placed third in 4:35.62, just off her prelims time of 4:35.06.
Georgia's Shannon Vreeland (4:35.66), Georgia's Wendy Trott (4:37.50), Minnesota's Ashley Steenvoorden (4:37.95), California's Shelley Harper (4:38.76) and Indiana's Lindsay Vrooman (4:42.13) rounded out the rest of the championship heat.
Arizona's Alyssa Anderson topped the consolation heat in 4:36.66 by using a strong final kick down the stretch. Virginia's Rachel Naurath placed second in 4:37.87, while California's Catherine Breed finished third in 4:38.05. Indiana's Brittany Strumbel (4:39.71), Texas A&M's Maureen McLaine (4:40.12), West Virginia's Rachael Burnett (4:41.23), Southern California's Amanda Smith (4:41.59) and Virginia Tech's Erika Hajnal (4:44.31) completed the B final.
Georgia vaulted into first with a dominant outing, holding 64 points for the lead. California (52), Arizona (41), Stanford (40) and Texas (30) stood second through fifth after the 500 free.
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