PHOENIX, Arizona, March 1. COLLEGE conference meets are always exciting, and we're getting some thrilling races so far this week across the country. After two days of competition, we've seen some seesaw team races and fast times from some of the top swimmers in the country.
Last night's top swim had to be the duel between UC-Berkeley teammates Elizabeth Pelton and Caitlin Leverenz in the women's 200 IM at the Pac 12 championships. With the two showcasing different strengths in the race, the lead was bound to change often, and it did. Pelton took the race out hard in the fly and back, but Leverenz roared back on breaststroke before Pelton overtook her by a very slim margin on the freestyle to win with a 1:54.29 to Leverenz's 1:54.31. This will obviously be one of the closest battles of the NCAA championships, as the two have been posting times within tenths of each other all season.
Arizona typically does not put in a full taper for the conference meet, but they are approaching their best times in Federal Way. Bonnie Brandon, just a freshman at Arizona, is already making up for the graduation of Alyssa Anderson with a second-place in the 500 free in a lifetime best of 4:38.93 behind reigning NCAA champion Haley Anderson, and Margo Geer swam her fastest 50 free of the season, winning the event with a 21.76. She also helped Arizona win the 200 free relay with a time that was faster than they swam at the USA winter nationals.
The University of Texas' men's team is back in the lead at the Big 12 championships, though they would have a bigger lead had they not been disqualified in the 400 medley relay. Freestyler Madison Wenzler left seven hundredths of a second too early, causing the DQ. Texas Christian University's freestyler Devin Price also left early on his takeoff, which meant West Virginia was the only team to score points in that event. Nonetheless, Texas leads by 73 points going into today's competition. On the women's side, Texas continues to lead thanks to sweeps in the 200 IM and 50 free.
Another major relay disqualification took place at the Big 10 championships, at the hands of Indiana University in the 400 medley relay. Breaststroker Cody Miller was disqualified for a double dolphin kick, thereby rendering Indiana's second-place finish moot. Michigan had a strong second day, with Olympian Connor Jaeger putting up a strong time in the 500 and Bruno Ortiz put up a 19.27 in the 50 free, which is now fourth-fastest in the country.
Mark Weber of Florida State moved up the collegiate rankings in the 50 with his 19.44 to win at the ACC championships, but it's his 18.99 anchor leg in the 200 free relay that has the country buzzing. That helped the Seminoles win the relay and start a great night that moved them up to fourth place overall. Virginia is still leading the meet by 39 points over Virginia Tech.
Across the pond in Marseille, France, Mireia Belmonte Garcia put on a show in long course competition with wins in the 800 free and 200 fly. Coincidentally, those are the two events in which she won silver medals at last year's Olympics. Other big names at the meet include Camille Lacourt, who won the 50 back, and 800 free relay silver medalist Gregory Mallet, who won the 200 free with a 1:50.69.
You can read more about all the meets mentioned on today's show by going to swimmingworld.com, and be sure to stay with Swimming World throughout the weekend for plenty of coverage from around the world.