By John Lohn
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 5. THROUGHOUT the week, SwimmingWorldMagazine.com will preview the Women's NCAA Division I Championships to be held in Minneapolis, Minn., from March 8-10. Next up, here's a look at the backstroke events.
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Seeded first at 52.34, Auburn's Rachel Goh will look to defend her championship, but can expect a major push from Indiana's Leila Vaziri, the second seed at 52.85. Vaziri has been a force on the long-course scene and will represent the United States later this month at the World Championships in Melbourne. She very well could head Down Under as the NCAA titlist.
California's Lauren Rogers (53.48) and Texas' Connie Brown (53.49) sit in the third and fourth slots of an event that is tightly packed. Expect Stanford's Brooke Bishop, also a standout sprint freestyler, to make some noise from her fifth-seeded position.
The top-seeded athlete in both individual medley events, Stanford's Julia Smit is also the woman to beat in the distance dorsal. Smit enters with a seed time of 1:53.95 and could make this event a runaway, considering the way she has performed throughout the season. Smit is followed in the No. 2 spot by Georgia's Aleksandra Putra in 1:54.81.
Some names a little farther down on the seed list that could make an impact include Florida's Leah Retrum (eighth), Indiana's Leila Vaziri (11th) and Auburn's Rachel Goh (13th), the defending champion in the 100 backstroke.