Cal Takes First-Ever D-I Title
March 21, 2009
Courtesy of Cal
COLLEGE STATION, TX - The California women's swimming team celebrated its first-ever NCAA Championship in school history on Saturday night after an historical and magical three-day display of record setting individual and relay performances at the at the Student Rec Center Natatorium hosted by Texas A&M. The Golden Bears finished with 411.5 points - also the most in school history, ahead of second place finisher Georgia with 400.5 points.
Cal's highest finish prior to the 2009 NCAA Championship was a third place showing in 2007. Cal is the fourth Pac-10 school to claim an NCAA title (Stanford, USC and Arizona).
In all, Cal claimed three individual NCAA titles (200 free, 100 free and 100 fly) and two NCAA relay titles (800 free and 400 free).
The stage was set and the electricity was high heading into Event No. 21 - the 400-yard free relay. Cal's quartet of Tara Thomas, Erica Dagg, Madison Kennedy and Dana Vollmer secured a spot in the Championship final of the relay with a preliminary time of 3:14.70 earlier in the morning. That time was completely shattered as head coach Teri McKeever altered her foursome with Hannah Wilson anchoring, followed by Liv Jensen, Dagg and Vollmer. With the Bears clinging to a one-point lead after 20 events, the new quartet sizzled to a new school, NCAA, NCAA Championship meet, American and U.S. Open record time of 3:09.88.
Cal also claimed an NCAA title in the 400 free relay in 2007 (3:12.13). At the 2009 Pac-10 Championships in February, Cal's foursome of Vollmer, Dagg, Kennedy and Wilson sprinted to a then NCAA, Pac-10 and school record time of 3:11.05 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, eclipsing the previous NCAA record time of 3:11.34 set by Arizona last season. The previous school record in the 400 free relay was 3:12.13 set in 2007.
After securing the top spot in the 100-yard freestyle morning preliminaries with a time of 47.24, Vollmer returned with even more firepower in the Championship final with a resounding personal-best time of 47.17 to claim her second individual NCAA freestyle title this week. On Friday night, Vollmer won the NCAA title in the 200-yard freestyle.
This was Vollmer's third individual NCAA title in three years at Cal (100-yard butterfly in 2007). It was also the first 100 free NCAA title by a Cal women's swimmer in school history. Vollmer's 200 free NCAA title on Friday night was the first by a Golden Bear since Conny van Bentum in 1986.
Wilson also garnered a spot in the Championship final after securing a personal-best time of 47.85 in the prelims with a sixth place finish time of 47.98 to earn All-America honors.
The freshman sensation Jensen, earned a 13th-place finish in the consolation final of the 100 free with a time of 48.59 for honorable mention All-America honors. Jensen swam a personal-best time of 48.26 in the morning prelims. Kennedy also garnered honorable mention All-America honors after a 15th-place finish with a time of 48.82.
The competition got real dramatic after the 200-yard butterfly when Amanda Sims earned a fourth place finish with a time of 1:53.60 - good enough for 14.5 points. And thanks to Sara Isakovic's ninth place finish and nine additional points from the consolation final (a personal-best time of 1:54.61), Cal vaulted to a first place standing with 371.5 points, a full point better than second-place Georgia (370.5) after 19 events. Arizona wasn't too far behind in third place with 363 points.
Sims secured a spot in the Championship final with her morning preliminary and new personal-best time of 1:53.54.
Lauren Boyle (16:17.03) and Blake Hayter (16:21.19) finished 26th and 30th respectively in the 1650-yard freestyle in the first event of the evening.
COLLEGE STATION, TX - The California women's swimming team capped off an amazing Friday night with team and individual performances for the ages as senior Dana Vollmer claimed an individual NCAA title in the 200-yard freestyle, while sophomore Amanda Sims won the NCAA title in the 100-yard butterfly.
The icing on the cake was in the 800-yard freestyle relay as Cal's foursome of Sara Isakovic, Hannah Wilson, Liv Jensen and Dana Vollmer clocked a new school, NCAA, NCAA Championship, American and U.S. Open record time of 6:52.69. Jensen set the tone early and finished her 200 yard split in 1:43.15 and Vollmer left no doubt with the last 200 yards with a scorching 1:41.75.
Auburn previously held the NCAA record with a time of 6:54.02 at the SEC Championships on Feb. 18.
Cal however is no stranger to dominance in the 800 free relay. For the sixth straight year, the Bears took home the Pac-10 title in the 800 free relay with a conference record time of 6:56.87. Additionally, Vollmer clocked a Pac-10, NCAA, Cal and American record time of 1:41.53 in the leadoff 200 yard leg of the freestyle.
As a team, Cal vaulted all the way to first place with 302 total points at the 2009 NCAA Championships at the Student Rec Center Natatorium hosted by Texas A&M. Georgia is in second place with 295.5 points and Arizona in third with 282.5.
"I was just really proud of how we continued to ride the momentum from the morning preliminaries into the finals," said head coach Teri McKeever. "We couldn't have asked for a better performance - everyone stepped up and contributed tonight. We are just staying true to our journey, and what ever happens, happens tomorrow. We are just enjoying the moment right now of being in first place. Tomorrow is a big day and it is an exciting opportunity."
Earlier in the day in the morning preliminaries, Vollmer clocked an NCAA Championship meet record time of 1:42.63 in the 200-yard freestyle - securing the top spot for the Championship final. That record didn't last long as she bested that mark with a time of 1:42.01 - a new NCAA Championship meet record. Vollmer simply turned on the jets in the final 50 yards, clocking a time of 25.54 to create separation from second-place finisher Morgan Scroggy (1:42.90). Vollmer already owns the NCAA, American and U.S. Open records with her time of 1:41.53 set at the 2009 Pac-10 Championship in February. The previous NCAA Championship meet record was held by SMU's Martina Maracova (1:43.08) back in 1997.
Already a legend in her own right at Cal, Vollmer also claimed an individual NCAA title in 2007 in the 100 butterfly.
Sara Isakovic also helped the Bears gain valuable points with a sixth place finish in the 200 free with a time of 1:43.30. Cal did not have anyone in the Championship final at last year's NCAAs.
In the consolation final of the 200 free, freshman Liv Jensen, who has made a name for herself this season, clocked a personal-best time of 1:44.81 for All-America honorable mention honors.
Although she didn't reach the finals of the 200 free, sophomore Erica Dagg swam a personal-best 1:45.44 in the prelims. Madison Kennedy also swam a personal-best time of 1:45.74 in the 200 free prelims. Lauren Boyle also claimed a personal-best in the 200 free prelims with a time of 1:46.20.
What a difference a year made for Sims in the 100 fly. At last year's NCAAs, Sims swam a time of 53.49 - good enough for 15th place. On Friday in the morning prelims, Sims got off on the right track by clocking a personal-best and top spot of 51.12. In the Championship final she held a slight lead over Stanford's Elaine Breeden after the third 50-yard leg by .10 seconds and just had enough left in the tank in the final 50-yard stretch with a dramatic 51.28 over Breeden who touched the wall in 51.34.
Cal also had Wilson and Vollmer in the Championship final of the 100 fly, with Wilson streaking to a third place finish time of 51.47 and Vollmer registering a fourth place showing time of 51.69.
Tara Thomas helped Cal get a few extra points with a 13th place finish in the consolation final with a time of 52.57.
Lauren Rogers claimed a second straight fourth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a new lifetime-best time of 51.69.
Alexandra Ellis, who placed 16th in the 100-yard breaststroke prelims with a personal-best time of 1:00.36, also placed 16th in the consolation final with a mark of 1:00.67.
Although she did not advance to the finals, Heather White swam a personal-best 4:12.12 in the 400-yard IM.
In the first event of the evening, Cal's foursome of Rogers, Ellis, Sims and Kennedy placed sixth in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:37.04.
Cal's highest finish ever in the NCAA Championships was a third place showing in 2007.
The NCAA Championship concludes tomorrow with the 1,650-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard freestyle relay. The prelims get underway at 9:00 a.m. PT, while the finals take place at 5:00 p.m. PT.
All of the action can followed be on the NCAA Championship website at http://www.aggieathletics.com/ncaa2009/swimming/women/index.html