Courtesy US Swimming
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - With three back-to-back victories tonight, Georgia is in good position to win its second consecutive NCAA Swimming and Diving championship title when the meet concludes tomorrow, but Arizona continues to nip at their heels. The world records belonged to fourth-place Cal though, who bettered two marks in one race. The Bulldogs lead the team race with 336.5 points, followed by Arizona (299), Stanford (245), Cal (235.5) and Auburn (169).
"We've done the best we can, but I'm not sure if it will be enough to hold off Arizona," Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. "They have their best day tomorrow. This has been a very high level meet and I'm glad we're in the position we're in. If we hadn't swum as well, we could easily be done 50 points right now."
The Cal 200m medley relay team of Haley Cope (27.25), Staciana Stitts (30.59), Waen Minprahal (27.07) and Joscelin Yeo (24.32) started off the night with a world record swim of 1:49.23. The previous world record was 1:49.47 by Sweden in 1999. Cope also set her own world record with a 50m back leadoff time of 27.25, bettering Germany Sandra Volkers' time of 27.27. Arizona set the American record with its second-place time of 1:49.71 by Beth Botsford, Amanda Beard, Amy Bouta and Denali Knapp.
"When I looked up at the board (after my leg) and saw that I broke the world record, I was thinking 'please don't false start," Cope said. "Breaking that record was one of my goals this year."
Georgia freshman Maritza Correia started the Bulldogs' string of victories with a win in the 200m free (1:57.33). She was followed by an American record performance from senior Kristy Kowal, who posted a 1:05.74 in the 100m breast, not far off Penny Heyns' world mark of 1:05.40. Kowal's senior teammate and roommate Courtney Shealy made it a hat trick with her win out of lane two in the 100m back (58.66). Her time matched the gold medal time by Sandra Volker at the FINA Short Course World Championships currently being held in Athens, Greece.
"It's my senior year so that's the last time I'll swim that event at NCAAs," Kowal said. "It hasn't hit me yet and probably won't until after I swim the 200 tomorrow, but the 100 is my fun event."
"I'm really excited to be that close to Penny's (Heyns) world record. She's an amazing swimmer and I love racing her, but I won't start thinking about the Olympics until after this meet is over. I'm just so excited with how well the team is doing here."
Kowal was pushed by Cal freshman Staciana Stitts who was out first in 31.24 to Kowal's 31.28. Stitts and Northwestern senior Amy Balcerzak tied for second in 1:06.79. Shealy also came from behind to win her race, passing up Catherine Fox who went out in 28.51 to Shealy's 28.68. Fox finished fourth in 59.35, behind Cope (59.17) and Arizona freshman Beth Botsford (59.34).
Columbia senior Cristina Teuscher claimed her fourth and final NCAA title in decisive fashion, winning the 400m individual medley by almost four seconds with a time of 4:33.81, just off Tracy Caulkins' US Open record of 4:33.44 from 1981. The time would have earned her a silver medal at the FINA Short Course World Championships -- a meet she chose to miss so she could compete in her final collegiate meet.
"I think the competition is just as good here so why fly halfway around the world when I could just take an hour flight here?" Teuscher said. "It was nice to end my college career here. Now I'll start focusing on the Olympic Trials. I'm much more mature than I was four years ago and going to Columbia had a lot to do with that. I was really lucky to be able to have the best of both worlds, working with both (Columbia coach) Diana (Caskey) and (club coach) John (Collins of Badger)."
Limin Liu of Nevada, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist in the 100m fly, won the 100m fly (57.97), after finishing as runner-up last year. Stanford's Misty Hyman was runner-up in 58.60.
Arizona won the final event of the night with Trina Jackson, Sarah Tolar, Jenny Vanker and Emily Mastin posting a US Open record time of 7:55.51 in the 800m free relay.