By Dan Mihalik
WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana, March 18. THE 100 backstroke final featured six swimmers that finished less than a second apart. Places one through six were decided by .91 seconds, but Arizona’s Marshi Smith led the race from start to finish and took first with a time of 52.82.
"I knew the race was going to be close, so I decided to take it out hard and try to hold on until the end," Smith said. "It worked, but it also hurt. I've been thinking about this moment for a long time, but it feels great for it to actually come true."
Margaret Hoelzer of Auburn was third at the halfway point of the race, and made a strong charge late to challenge Smith. But Hoelzer just couldn’t make up the ground and finished in second, .17 seconds behind Smith.
Another Arizona swimmer, Jenna Gresdal finished the race in third, holding off Brielle White of Virginia, who barely out-touched Maureen Farrell of Florida.
Jeri Moss of Auburn was sixth at the halfway mark, and that is where she finished, touching the wall in 53.73 seconds. Leila Vaziri of Indiana was seventh while Katie Arnold of UCLA was eighth for the Bruins.