Women’s NCAA Division I Preview: Breaststroke

By John Lohn

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 6. 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, is a look at the breaststroke events.

Also, as a treat for our premium members, click here to find out how you can obtain an extensive resource package on the meet.

100 Breaststroke
If she's on, the likelihood of Cal's Jessica Hardy finishing out of the top slot is slim. Hardy is the reigning silver medalist from the World Championships and holds the American record in the long-course version of the event. There's no doubt that Hardy could make a run at the NCAA record of 58.41, held by Tara Kirk. The American standard, also belonging to Kirk, sits at 57.77.

Outside of Hardy, who is seeded first at 59.56, the only other athlete with a sub-minute seed is Texas' Elizabeth Tinnon, who is slotted at 59.96. The third seed is Caroline Bruce, the NCAA champ in 2005 and certainly capable of making noise on the big stage. After all, Bruce was a 2004 Olympian in the 200 breaststroke. Seeded eighth, but poised for a jump up the ladder, is Southern California's Rebecca Soni.

200 Breaststroke
Sidelined by injury last season, Caroline Bruce didn't get the chance to defend her titles in the 100 and 200 breast events. Obviously, she has bounced back superbly and is the top seed in the 200 distance, thanks to a qualifying mark of 2:09.32. That effort placed Bruce just ahead of USC's Rebecca Soni, in the field with a swim of 2:09.39.

Freshman Alia Atkinson (Texas A&M) is the third seed in 2:10.89 and is followed by Yi Ting Siow of Wisconsin with a qualifying effort of 2:11.24. Elizabeth Tinnon (Texas) is next in line at 2:11.49. If Bruce or Soni don't win the event, it can be considered a surprise.