LONG BEACH, California, February 28. ARIZONA junior Lara Jackson set a meet record in the 50-yard freestyle and helped break another in the 200-yard freestyle relay, as the Wildcats took the overall team lead on the second night of the Pacific-10 Conference women's swimming championships at Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool on Thursday.
Jackson defended her individual title from last season in a time of 22.04 seconds, edging out Arizona State senior Caitlin Andrew by .03 seconds.
Jackson, who finished second in the event at the 2007 NCAA Championships, said the sprint is always unpredictable.
"You can't mess up anything, you have to have a little bit of luck on your side," Jackson said. "It always racks my nerves the whole day."
Arizona Coach Frank Busch said the win bodes well for next month's NCAA competition.
"Some people would say 22-flat, `How much sharper can you get?' I think we can get a lot sharper," Busch said.
Junior Kennedy Bishop of California took third (22.25).
Jackson, freshman Emma Darlington, junior Taylor Baughman and senior Lacey Nymeyer later teamed for the 200, which they won in 1:28.60.
The time broke Arizona's meet record set last year. Jackson and Nymeyer were members of both foursomes.
"Just being in a better spot than we were last year as far as going into the national championships, it's a good sign," Jackson said. "Coming here and swimming fast, it's not a mistake by any means. We want to come here and throw down."
Cal's Emily Silver, Madison Kennedy, Hannah Wilson and Dana Vollmer finished second (1:28.70), with Andrew, Jen Beckberger, Lindsey Brown and Jess Perazzo of Arizona State in third place in a time of 1:29.73.
Washington took home the other two individual titles decided Thursday, with freshman Ariana Kukors claiming the 200-yard individual medley (1:55.48) and junior Kim Jasmer winning the 500-yard freestyle (4:41.51).
"It's a step to the ultimate goal," Huskies Coach Whitney Hite said. "Any time you win two events in the conference of champions is fantastic. This is the best swimming conference in the country."
Jasmer held off Stanford freshman Kate Dwelley (4:41.67), with Whitney Hentzen of USC finishing one second behind Dwelley in third place. Sophomore Elaine Breeden of Stanford was the runner up in the 200 IM (1:56.45), with teammate Julia Smit close behind.
Arizona leads the Cardinal, 496-472, in the team rankings, which Busch compared to a cold-shooting basketball team still winning the game.
"We're not stroking the ball real well, but we are hanging in there," Busch said.
Special thanks to the Pac 10 for contributing to this report.