PHOENIX, Arizona, March 4. THE Pac 12 women's swimming and diving title is back at Stanford University after Cal took it last year, and this year's title chase was close, with the University of Southern California putting up a strong battle throughout four days of competition. Stanford won by just 21 points over the Trojans in Federal Way, Washington, with Cal 106 points behind Stanford. First-year head coach Greg Meehan managed to secure automatic qualifying times in all five relays, and got four swimmers automatically qualified in individual events.
But the big swim of the weekend came from Berkeley's Elizabeth Pelton, who lowered her American record in the 200-yard backstroke for the second time in three months. After posting a 1:48.90 in December, Pelton swam a 1:48.39 Saturday night to put her within five hundredths of a second of Gemma Spofforth's NCAA and U.S. Open record of 1:48.34, which is the fastest swim in the event of all time.
The water at the King County Aquatic Center barely had time to cool off from the women's Pac 12 meet, as the men took to the pool yesterday to start competition. The meet was moved to the Seattle area after the Belmont Plaza pool, the original location for the men's meet, was forced to close in January. Cal and Stanford are getting off to strong starts so far as the two rivals won both relays last night. Cal is leading by four points going into today's competition.
Virginia, Michigan and Texas had runaway victories at their conference championships over the weekend. Virginia's men's team won their sixth consecutive conference title, the 16th men's victory for head coach Mark Bernadino. Pavel Sankovich of Florida State was the swimmer of the meet, winning both backstrokes and the 200 IM to highlight a great meet by the Seminoles. Virginia Tech, finishing in second place, only managed to win the 400 medley relay, but had the depth needed to earn the runner-up trophy.
As for Michigan, they were impressive across the board at the men's Big 10 championships. The Wolverines won 11 of the 16 swimming events, putting numerous swimmers at or near the top of the collegiate rankings. Connor Jaeger will likely go into the NCAAs as the top seed in the 500 free and second in the 1650 free. With the Pac 12 men's meet still underway, Wisconsin's Drew Teduits' win in the 200 back with a 1:39.98 makes him one of only two swimmers under 1:40 in the event so far. But it was Cody Miller who stole the show with two great breaststroke victories. His 100 breast time of 51.50 puts him in the hunt for an NCAA title, and his 1:51.03 in the 200 breast makes him the second fastest in history in the event. Kevin Cordes now has a serious challenger in the breaststroke events in three weeks.
Texas men's and women's teams had no problem with winning the Big 12 conference meet. Michael McBroom made a statement that he wants that 1650 national title he won in 2011 back in his hands, with a 14:33.53. Dax Hill, the reigning NCAA champion in the 200 free, made the move to the 100 breaststroke to help fill a major gap in Texas' lineup, winning the race with a 53.33. With Clay Youngquist able to help out Texas in the 200 free, it appears Hill might be swimming the 100 breast at NCAAs. You may not know that Hill came to Texas as a 54.7 100 breaststroker out of college, but had to choose either the 200 free or 100 breast in college, as both are swum back to back at the NCAAs. We'll see what Hill will be swimming officially when the meet psych sheet is released.
As for the Texas women, Laura Sogar was impressive, making a statement that she wants to make a run at the NCAA titles in the breaststrokes. She almost swam a lifetime best in the 200 breast with a 2:05.0.
Kaitlyn Jones didn't let the name Missy Franklin intimidate her last weekend, as she took down Franklin's independent national high school record in the 200 IM with a 1:56.31 at the Delaware state high school championships. Jones, a finalist in the 200 IM at the Olympic Trials and a senior at Tatnall High School, got the independent school record just a little bit closer to Dagny Knutson's overall record of 1:53.82.
Natalie Coughlin made her post-Olympics racing debut last weekend in Marseille, France, and though she wasn't able to win any events, she earned three runner-up finishes behind Great Britain's Fran Halsall. Nathan Adrian stepped up in the 50 freestyle and beat reigning Olympic champion Florent Manaudou, with Anthony Ervin in third place. Adrian was also able to come back and win the 100 free. Other top swims at the meet include a 58.37 from Fran Halsall in the 100 fly and a 53.19 in the men's 100 fly by Poland's Konrad Czerniak.
You can read more about all the meets mentioned on today's show by going to swimmingworld.com and scrolling through the headlines on our home page.