Cal Surges on Pac-10 Swimming & Diving Championship's First Day

Feb. 25, 2009

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By MATT MASSEY (Special to The Pac-10 Conference) - FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - The California Bears kicked off the Pac-10 Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships with a rush.

And, the team's dominance in one event continued.

Senior Dana Vollmer eclipsed the United States record in the 200 freestyle by swimming a strong leadoff leg of California's winning 800-yard free relay on Wednesday's opening night of the 22nd annual Pac-10 meet at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Vollmer powered to a time of 1 minute, 41.53 seconds - also a Pac-10 meet and conference mark -- in the opening leg as the Bears secured their sixth consecutive Pac-10 title in the event. Cal set a Pac-10 meet and conference mark with a clocking of 6:56.87 in the 800-yard free relay.

Vollmer topped the American previous record of 1:41.66 put up by 2004 Cal grad Natalie Coughlin in the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix on Jan. 14, 2007. Coughlin, considered one of the most decorated U.S. women's swimmers, has won 11 Olympic medals with a U.S. record six in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

'I'm excited to keep it in the Cal family and Natalie's been an inspiration to me, so to get one of her records means so much to me,' said Vollmer, a 2004 Olympic gold medal winner as a senior in high school as part of Team U.S.A.'s world-record setting 800 free relay team. 'This group of girls, they are my training buddies, and we're in the pool every day together.

'To be part of it with them means that much more. To start the meet off like this, I'm just so excited.'

Cal's 800-yard free relay time was the third best mark in NCAA history, ranking behind an NCAA-best 6:54.02 set by Auburn at the Southeastern Conference (SEC) meet on Feb. 18.

Vollmer's mark in the 200 free - a new event this season - should make Friday night's finals even more interesting. The 200 free immediately follows the 100 butterfly, considered Vollmer's best event.

'I'm so glad I'm doing the 200 free this year, because in the past I've just focused on the 100 fly,' said Vollmer, who won an NCAA title in the 2008 finals of the 100 butterfly. 'I'm so pumped for the rest of my races.'

Arizona repeated as Pac-10 champions in the 200-yard medley relay as senior Lindsey Kelly out-touched Stanford's Sam Woodward on the final leg. The Wildcats' foursome of Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler, Lara Jackson and Kelly beat the Cardinal's time by eight-tenths of a second, checking in with an NCAA-qualifying time of 1:36.53.

It turns out it wasn't that close after all as Stanford (1:36.61) was disqualified for leaving early during the freestyle portion and California was placed second with an NCAA-consideration time of 1:38.21.

The relay DQ will hurt Stanford, the 16-time Pac-10 champions, in the team race. Arizona is bidding for its fourth consecutive conference title.

Three members - DeGolia, Chandler and Jackson - were on the Cats' 2008 Pac-10 winning 200-yard medley relay in that went on to take the 2008 NCAA crown.

Cal's relay performance gave it the early lead after two events 120-116 over Arizona.

'It's that time of year,' Cal coach Teri McKeever, who is in her 17th year. 'I think it was really important to come in tonight and set the tone for the meet. It's going to be a long three more days.

'It's good to get off to a good start and keep everybody excited. You don't want to get to high. You just want to keep it going.'

USC was third with 106 and Washington checked in fourth at 104.

Entering the meet, six Pac-10 women's teams were ranked in the NCAA Division I Top 25 with No. 2 Arizona leading the way.

Stanford checks in sixth nationally and California sits seventh. USC ranks 12th, UCLA 16th and Arizona State 17th as the Pac-10 dominated the latest national rankings.

Pac-10 Men's Diving Championships

On the first of three days of men's diving, senior Dwight Dumais of Stanford returned to top of the awards stand in the 1-meter diving.

Dumais, the 2007 Pac-10 champion in the 1-meter event, unseated 2008 champ Micky Benedetti of Arizona State by scoring 383.05 points.

Harrison Jones of USC took second with 374.50 and Benedetti, a senior, was third at 371.50.

The swimming portion of the Pac-10 Men's Championships will take place in Long Beach, Calif., March 4-7 with Arizona State playing host at Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION

  • The 28th Annual NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will take place Thurs., Mar. 19 through Sat., Mar. 21 at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium in College Station, Texas.

  • The 87th Annual NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships will take place Thurs., Mar. 26 through Sat., Mar. 28 at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium in College Station, Texas.
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