Feb. 16, 2008
Stanford, Calif. -
No. 2 Stanford (7-1, 6-0 Pac-10) finished a second consecutive unbeaten Pac-10 dual meet campaign and won its 12th straight Pac-10 dual meet with a 177-123 victory over No. 8 California (5-2, 4-2 Pac-10) on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the Avery Aquatic Center. Defending NCAA 200 fly champion Elaine Breeden broke her own school record in the event with a time of 1:52.74 that is the fastest in the nation this season, while Julia Smit had another huge meet for the Cardinal by winning three individual events (200 free, 500 free, 200 back) and also anchoring Stanford's victorious 400 free relay in a meet that featured the nation's fastest time this season in two events, nine pool records and 27 NCAA `A' qualifying performances.
"The rivalry between Stanford and California is one that brings out the best in both teams," explained Stanford head coach Lea Maurer on the unusually fast regular season meet. "It was all about racing today. It wasn't always pretty, but we came up with some fast times for both teams, and we were happy to come away with a win."
Breeden's 200 fly victory over rival Dana Vollmer of California highlighted the meet as the Cardinal sophomore came from behind in the final 50 yards to blow by Vollmer and break her own school record. Breeden had trailed by 0.42 seconds after 150 yards but ended up 1.22 seconds ahead of one of her fiercest rivals.
"Swimming against Dana Vollmer is really a challenge," said Breeden. "My last 50 is where I usually win it and fortunately today I had it. It was a good race."
Smit broke pool records in the 200 free, 500 free and in finishing off the 400 free relay for a foursome that also included Kate Dwelley, Breeden and Liz Smith. Smit excited a large and enthusiastic crowd on a pair of occasions when she broke Janet Evans' 18-year-old pool record with a personal-best and NCAA `A' time of 4:41.79 to take the 500 free and by holding off California's Hannah Wilson to claim victory in the 400 free relay as the Cardinal finished with a pool record and NCAA `A' time of 3:15.54. Smit won by comfortable margins in both her pool record 200 free (1:44.52) and 200 back (1:57.18) victories, recording NCAA `A' marks in both and the top time in the nation this season in the 200 free.
"We were all excited and confident going into this meet," offered Smit. "Everyone was really feeding off everybody else's energy. A lot of people got the `A' cuts that they wanted today."
Meg Hostage swept the 1-meter (330.07) and 3-meter boards for the Cardinal and has now won nine of the last 10 events she has competed in.
Brooke Bishop (50 free, 22.69, NCAA `B'), Kerry Kraemer (100 breast, 1:01.32, NCAA `A') and Smith (200 breast, 2:09.11, NCAA `A') each captured one event for Stanford with Smith's time making her the No. 3 all-time performer in the event at Stanford.
"Our depth was a surprise," admitted Maurer. "We had a lot of people answer the call and have fun with it today."
The Cardinal also set a pool record in the 200 medley relay to open the meet when Fiona O'Donnell-McCarthy, Smith, Breeden and Bishop went an NCAA `A' time of 1:38.54 to edge a California foursome of Lauren Rogers, Emily Silver, Vollmer and Madison Kennedy that checked in with an NCAA `A' mark of 1:38.86 that also eclipsed the former pool record.
California got off to a competitive start when Lauren Boyle set a new school record with her 1000 free victory in a time of 9:42.14 in the second event of the meet. Rogers then broke the 100 back pool record two events later to win in an NCAA `A' time of 53.17, giving the Golden Bears victories in two of the meet's first four events.
Stanford took control of the meet by winning the next four events with victories from Kraemer (100 breast), Breeden (200 fly), Bishop (50 free) and Hostage (3-meter diving).
Kennedy stopped the Cardinal streak when she captured the 100 free in an NCAA `A' time of 49.32 but Smit took two of the next three events (200 back, 500 free) to sandwich Smith's 200 breast victory and end any Golden Bears' hope for a comeback.
"I was excited to swim an event that I don't usually get to swim at a meet like this," said Smit about her 500 free performance. "It was fun and breaking the record was really exciting."
"Swimming the 500 free is not an even an event that Julia is totally comfortable with yet," added Maurer. "To take down Janet Evans' 18-year-old record is quite an accomplishment."
Vollmer was able to keep Breeden from sweeping the fly events when she broke a pool record to take the 100 fly in an NCAA `A' time of 51.79 and finish just two-tenths of a second ahead of Breeden.
Hostage wrapped up the diving competition during a swimming break with a 1-meter victory (286.65) before California's Rachel Ridgeway took the 200 IM (2:00.22, NCAA `A') to round out the individual swimming events.
Although the Cardinal had already clinched a meet victory, the 400 free relay that concluded the action was filled with drama. Vollmer put the Golden Bears ahead by .72 after the first leg by clocking a pool record and NCAA `A' 100 free leadoff split of 48.65. A strong second leg by Breeden (48.45) put the Cardinal back in front at the halfway point before Smith extended that lead to 0.74 with a third leg of 49.45 and handed the race off to Smit. Wilson surprisingly closed the gap on Smit to just .17 during their first 50 to put the Golden Bears but Smit regrouped and pulled away to give the Cardinal a final margin of an even 1.00.
Seniors from both teams were honored in a ceremony prior to their final regular season collegiate dual meet. Bishop, Elizabeth Durot and Katie Lampe were introduced for the Cardinal. Ridgeway, Silver and Kelly Stravers were recognized for the Golden Bears.
"We approached this meet differently this year," said Bishop. "Although we were really excited to swim against them, and they are a fabulous team, I think we came into this meet with a little bit of a lower energy. That's really going to help us at Pac-10's and NCAA's so we can give it all we can there. Still, it was a really great meet with a lot of really great swims. It helps us with our confidence."
"It's kind of a bummer that this is my final meet here because this is a great pool to swim in," added Bishop. "But, the best part of the season is still coming."
Stanford will begin postseason action at the Pac-10 Championships from Wednesday-Saturday, February 27 - March 1. The four-day swimming portion of the meet gets underway on February 27 at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, California. The three-day diving meet starts February 28 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.