By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, March 21. NIGHT two of the Women’s NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships are in the books, and what an interesting day it was. Two American records by Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson and Cal’s Missy Franklin, title sweeps by Georgia’s Laura Ryan (1-meter and 3-meter diving) and Stanford’s Maya DiRado (200 and 400 IM) and a huge relay disqualification by Cal have made for an intriguing battle for the team title as the meet moves into its final day tomorrow. Here are a few observations from night two.
Stanford Making a Statement
Not many people talked about Stanford as a serious contender for this year’s team title, but that’s no longer the case following three Stanford relay victories and three individual event wins through two days of racing in Minnesota. The entire Stanford contingent has been on their game in Minneapolis, putting together wins in the 200 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay (in NCAA, American, US Open and Championship record time), an individual medley sweep by senior Maya DiRado and another individual win by Felicia Lee in the 100 fly. Lee made the championship final in all three of her individual events to pick up huge points, while Maddy Schaefer, Lia Neal and Katie Olsen have also scored key points in their individual events.
Stanford bounced around between first and sixth in the team standings at NCAAs from 1980-2012 before taking eighth in 2013, their lowest finish in school history. It seems as though they’ve rebounded nicely, as the Cardinal now sits in second place, well within striking distance of their first team title since 1998. In 2010, Stanford finished second to Florida by 2.5 points, and would probably like to erase that memory with a win this year.
California Rebounds From Relay DQ
After last night, Cal found themselves in a sizeable hole to Georgia in the team standings, and they didn’t help their cause with a disqualification in this morning’s 200 medley relay prelims. However, the Bears rebounded well from the disappointment and got three swimmers in finals in the 100 fly, five in the 200 free and three in the 100 back. The highlight of tonight’s finals session came in the 200 free, where freshman Missy Franklin broke the NCAA, American and US Open record in the 200 free by almost a second to win her first NCAA title in 1:40.31. The Bears then capped the night with a win in the 800 free relay, as Rachael Acker, Caroline Piehl, Elizabeth Pelton and Franklin just touched out Georgia, 6:54.94 to 6:55.09.
Cal finishes the night in third place, 12 points behind Stanford and 84 behind first-place Georgia. The Bears will need another huge team effort tomorrow if they’re to leapfrog to first and regain the team title they last won in 2011 and 2012.
A Diverse Field in the 100 Fly
The women’s 100 fly had to have one of the most diverse groups of schools of any event thus far. While a lot of the events so far have included swimmers from some of the same schools – Cal, Georgia, Stanford, Arizona, Florida, Texas A&M, USC, etc. – the 100 fly featured a lot of new faces from different schools. Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell finished second in the event, ahead of Southern Methodist’s Marne Erasmus. UC Santa Barbara senior Andrea Ward placed fourth, while Princeton’s Lisa Boyce touched seventh. The consolation final had a lot of new names as well, as Denver’s Sam Corea finished ninth, Liberty’s Jess Reinhardt took 10th and UNLV’s Katelyne Herrington touched 11th.
In a meet that can sometimes be dominated by swimmers from a few of the top schools, it’s cool to see some smaller schools and up-and-coming swimmers making a name for themselves. Placing swimmers in the final or consolation final at NCAAs is certainly a great recruiting tool for a lot of these schools, and hopefully we’ll start to see some other less well-known schools stepping out and scoring points at NCAAs in the future.
The meet wraps up tomorrow with finals in the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, platform diving and the 400 free relay. Check out Swimming World for full recaps, results and updates.