Columbus, Ohio -
A big morning by Stanford has put the Cardinal in position to move up in the final team standings during the sixth and final session of the 2008 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday evening. Stanford will wrap up the NCAA's with eight individual swims and one relay team competing as well as three divers during the final seven events.
The team's performance in Saturday morning's prelims puts the Cardinal in position to realistically move up as high as second in the final standings. Arizona will take a commanding lead into the session with 361 points and is followed by two-time defending national champion Auburn (244), Texas A&M (227), Stanford (212) and California (203) in the top five.
Stanford had three second place showings Saturday morning in Elaine Breeden (200 fly, 1:54.14), Meg Hostage (platform diving, 312.80) and Liz Smith (200 breast, 2:08.80). Smith's time was a personal-best and only 1.27 seconds behind USC's Rebecca Soni, who beat her by an even 3.00 seconds at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships when she broke the American, NCAA, Pac-10 and Pac-10 Meet records.
Julia Smit, who won her first NCAA title with a victory in the 400 IM on Friday, punched her ticket to her third individual championship final of the 2008 NCAA's by taking sixth in the 200 back prelims with a time of 1:54.70.
Caroline Bruce (200 breast, 2:11.67) and Shana Karp (267.60) both squeaked into Saturday championship finals with eighth place finishes. Elizabeth Durot is the eighth seed (16:05.92 qualifying time) in the 1650 free that will be swum as a timed final to start Saturday evening's session.
Stanford also will be in the championship finals of the 400 free relay to wrap up the action on Saturday thanks to a fourth-place finish in the prelims. The Cardinal covered the distance in a school record time of 3:14.85 with a team of Kate Dwelley (49.05), Smit (48.52), Breeden (48.85) and Brooke Bishop (48.43).
Stanford will also have three competitors in consolation finals on Saturday night in Laura Wadden, Kerry Kraemer and Sarah Ohr with Wadden and Kraemer making huge jumps from their qualifying spots during prelim action.
Wadden moved up 16 spots in the 100 fly to claim 11th place after being qualified 27th by swimming a 1:57.04 that was 1.19 seconds faster than her previous personal-best and moved her up three spots to No. 7 on Stanford's list of all-time top performers in the event.
Kraemer's 14th place showing in the 200 breast in a personal-best time of 2:12.77 was 17 places better than she started with a qualifying time that had ranked her tied for 31st coming into the meet.
Ohr reached an NCAA evening session for the first time in her collegiate career by also taking 14th in the platform diving competition with 235.80 points.
Other participants in individual events for Stanford during Saturday's prelim session included Bishop (21st, 48.96), Dwelley (22nd, 48.99) and Fiona O'Donnell-McCarthy (49.70) in the 100 free; and Whitney Spence (32nd, 1:59.84) in the 200 fly.
Saturday's individual prelim winners were Texas A&M's Kristen Heiss (200 back, 1:53.37); Auburn's Kara Denby (100 free, 47.92); Soni (200 breast, 2:07.53); Oregon State's Saori Haruguchi (200 fly 1:53.91); and Miami's Brittany Viola (platform diving, 331.85).
Texas A&M won the prelims of the 400 free relay in a time of 3:14.54 with a foursome of Julia Wilkinson (48.10), Codie Hansen (48.97), Sarah Woods (48.90) and Triin Aljand (48.57).
The 2008 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion will conclude with Saturday evening's session (7 pm, ET/4 pm, PT) that will feature championship and consolation finals of the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, platform diving and 400 free relay following the opening 1650 free.
"We had some outstanding performances this morning and have a lot of second swims tonight which is the goal," said Stanford head women's swimming and diving coach Lea Maurer. "We have placed ourselves in a great position to fight for a place tonight. It has been a total team effort."