Courtesy US Swimming
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - In a classic dog and cat fight, the Georgia Bulldogs hung on to defeat the Arizona Wildcats for their second-straight NCAA Swimming & Diving title on March 18 in Indianapolis. Georgia finished with 490.5 points to Arizona's 472.
With Arizona needing to win the final relay (400m free relay) and Georgia to finish sixth or lower for the Wildcats to win the title, the Bulldogs could have been extra careful about the relay takeoffs to ensure no false starts. Georgia went after the race aggressively though, winning the event and the team title with an American record time of 3:37.67, bettering the time set by the USA National Team earlier today in Athens, Greece, at the Short Course World Championships.
"The coaches told us we just needed to finish fifth, but we weren't out there to do that," senior Courtney Shealy said. "We still wanted to win it."
Shealy's win in the 100m free (53.99) earlier in the night had re-ignited Georgia, who had slipped a little in the first two events of the night. Shealy's win was followed by teammate's Kristy Kowal's American record win in the 200m breast (2:22.05). Shealy and Kowal were named co-NCAA Female Swimmers of the Year. Bauerle was voted Coach of the Year for the third time.
"Courtney's win was gigantic," Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. "We had lost our momentum and we had to get that done. Then with Kristy's win next ... these two (Shealy and Kowal) wanted this (team title) more than anyone. We just pin their ears back and let 'em go.
"This year was harder to win. I now have a newfound respect for (Stanford) coach Richard Quick who's won so many titles. Defending a title is a different feeling. Last year was almost easy. It just seemed to flow. We didn't have many injuries. At one point in January, we were a skeleton of what we were tonight.
"What a terrific meet it was. I have great respect for Arizona."
"We have a very good team coming back and a good recruiting class coming in," said Arizona head coach Frank Busch. "That doesn't guarantee anything though. There's a lot of factors that can come into play over the next 12 months, but I'm looking forward to the next few years because this is a young team and I'm proud of their effort this week."
Also winning titles tonight were Virginia freshman Cara Lane in the 1500m free (16:03.59), Arizona freshman Beth Botsford in the 200m back (2:06.70 - American record), Nevada senior Limin Liu in the 200m fly (2:06.04) and Miami junior Jenny Keim in platform diving (538.80).
The NCAA meet, held in short course meters for the first time in history, saw the record books rewritten. Over the three day meet, two world records (50m back, 400m medley relay) and one world best (200m medley relay) were broken, as well as 11 American records.