Commentary by Jeff Commings
PHOENIX, Arizona, April 4. IF the NCAA handed out trophies to the top four swimmers at the NCAA championships in the same fashion that they award the top four teams, the following would be my recommendation for those honors.
Number four: Laura Sogar. What a gutsy swim by the University of Texas senior to win the 200 breaststroke, her final collegiate event. Swimming out of lane one, Sogar took the race out fast with Breeja Larson, splitting a 59.68. That's four tenths slower than the time she swam in the individual 100 breaststroke. While Larson showed signs of fading in the final 25 yards, Sogar kept motoring to the wall, prompting the entire Texas team to envelope their new champion when she exited the pool.
Video interview with Laura Sogar:
Number three: Margo Geer. Winning the 50 and 100 freestyles is not an easy feat these days at the NCAA championships. Only one person has done it in the past five years. But Arizona's Margo Geer had been a heavy favorite to take the sprint freestyles all season, and she lived up to her billing, even as Megan Romano presented a tough challenge. Geer, just a junior, could challenge those tough NCAA records at her final NCAA championships in 2014.
Video interview with Margo Geer:
Number two: Megan Romano. Though she was unable to defend her 200 freestyle title this year, Megan Romano was the most key player on Georgia's squad, racing in four relays and putting up remarkable splits that either helped set a record (400 free relay), show off the Bulldogs' dominance (800 free relay) or make up some lost ground and score more points (200 free relay, 400 medley relay). Plus, she broke 22 seconds in the 50 free, which in essence was not a strong event for her until this season.
Number one: Elizabeth Pelton. Setting the lone individual American record of the meet gave Pelton a lot of attention, and for good reason. It was the third time she broke her own American mark in the 200 backstroke this season, and each successive swim continued to amaze swimming fans. But I was most impressed by her 200 freestyle, in which she beat Romano, the American record holder, and almost got to the wall ahead of Allison Schmitt, the reigning Olympic champion. Could we see Pelton as part of the USA's 800 free relay in Barcelona this summer?
Video interview with Elizabeth Pelton:
Tomorrow: The men's Final Four