March 18, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas - A second-place finish on Friday kept California in the lead at the NCAA Championships on a night when the Golden Bears captured three national titles. Cal posted an American record in the 200-yard medley relay, senior Amanda Sims won the national crown in the 100-yard butterfly for the second time in her career and freshman Cindy Tran, on her 19th birthday, won her second championship of the night in the 100-yard backstroke. Racing to second in the night's last event - the 800-yard freestyle relay final - enabled the Bears to remain in first place ahead of a talented field.
Cal's 295 points lead the way, ahead of second-place Georgia (274.5points), third-place USC (253) and fourth-place Stanford (192), at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. The Bears have won five NCAA titles - including their 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay victories on March 17 - so far at the national meet, which ends Saturday.
"It's very, very exciting," Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. "The girls did a really nice job this morning then put the finishing touches on it tonight. It was definitely one of the best evenings at this level that I can remember."
The same four Bears - Tran, sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, junior Colleen Fotsch and junior Liv Jensen - who won the Pac-10 title in the 200-yard medley relay captured the event in record time at NCAAs. Their time of 1:35.03 set new American, U.S. Open, NCAA, school and pool records. Sims swam the fly leg of the relay in the morning prelim and Fotsch took over in the final.
"Colleen had the 100 fly and 100 back prelims, and we needed her to get into those [B] finals like she did," McKeever said. "Amanda could swim the relay so we could qualify. That's one thing we can do - we can use people effectively. It's a three-day, physically exhausting meet. We feel one of the reasons why we are where we are is because we are maximizing our talent. Tonight Colleen got to break the American record. The reason for that is that Amanda swam in the morning prelim, and then Amanda won the 100 fly tonight.
"It's a good night to be a Golden Bear for everyone."
Leverenz made more good news in the ensuing final - the 400-yard individual medley - breaking her own school record with a time of 4:01.72 to take fourth place.
Sims then posted a personal-best time of 50.49 to add the 100 fly title to her 2009 100-fly championship. That time places her second in Cal's all-time annals behind only record-holder Natalie Coughlin (50.01 in 2002). Senior Hannah Wilson took fourth place with a time of 51.82 and Fotsch earned valuable points with her 14th-place finish in a time of 53.18 in the 100 fly.
Junior Sara Isakovic next clocked Cal's season-best time of 1:43.65 to place fifth in the 200-yard freestyle.
Cal did not place any athletes in two of the next three finals - the 100-yard breaststroke and three-meter diving finals - but still wound up on top at the end of the night.
Sandwiched in between those events was the 100-yard backstroke final. Tran entered the week with the fastest time in the nation at 51.22, yet in the morning prelim freshman teammate Deborah Roth finished first with a then career-best time of 51.61; Tran qualified eighth for the final. On Friday night, Tran swam 51.30 - Cal's second-best time of the season - to win her championship and edge second-place Roth. The latter, whose career-best time was 53.20 entering NCAAs, swam a new personal-best time of 51.51 in the final. The busy Fotsch again scored points for the Bears in a B final, taking 15th in the 100 back with a time of 53.64.
In the 800-free relay final, Cal needed to stay close to Georgia - the American record-holder in the event (6:53.58) - to keep the lead, and that is exactly what the Bears did. The quartet of Wilson, senior Erica Dagg, Isakovic and Jensen swam a season-best time of 6:58.71 to place second behind Georgia's pool-record time of 6:55.40.
Saturday, the last day of the meet, features the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, platform diving and 400-free relay. Prelims are scheduled for a 9 a.m. PT start, with finals beginning at 5 p.m. PT. Live video of Saturday's finals is available on ESPN3.com.
NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships
400-Yard Individual Medley
^ American record