By John Lohn
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 7. 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 relay events.
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With the points doubled, the relays obviously play a critical role each year in the determination of the championship. The 200 medley relay features three Pac-10 schools as the top seeds, with Stanford in the No. 1 position. The Cardinal is seeded at 1:37.71, ahead of Arizona's 1:37.92, but the Wildcats figure to get much quicker with rest. California is seeded third.
In the 400 medley relay, Cal has the ingredients to capture the title, particularly because its middle legs are so strong. The Golden Bears not only have Jessica Hardy for the 100 breaststroke, but Dana Vollmer handles the fly leg. Those women are the favorites in the individual versions of their respective legs. Stanford, though, also has a potent lineup and could give Cal a serious run with a unit of Julia Smit, Caroline Bruce, Elaine Breeden and Brooke Bishop expected to go to work.
One year after establishing an NCAA record with a time of 1:27.98, Arizona is again the favorite to win the sprint relay. The Wildcats have top guns in Lacey Nymeyer and Lara Jackson. Kentucky, with Jenny and Heather Bradford, is the second seed. The 400 free relay has Cal as the top seed, but Arizona will also be in the title picture because of its freestyle strength. Cal could go to battle with Erin Reilly, Emily Silver, Jessica Hardy and Dana Vollmer, a formidable lineup that has a top seed time of 3:13.60.
In the 800 free relay, a pair of Southeastern Conference schools are the top seeds – Auburn and Georgia. The Tigers have a seed time of 7:04.12 and figure to utilize the services of Emily Kukors and Kara Denby. As for Georgia, it is seeded at 7:05.13. The relay events are the most difficult to forecast due to the uncertainty of which lineups will be used.