Stanford's Smit Sets an American Record

Feb. 26, 2009

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By MATT MASSEY (Special to the Pac-10) - FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Her coach calls Julia Smit a little bit quirky and quick-witted.

The label just changed to quick on the second day of the 2009 Pac-10 Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.

Smit, a Stanford junior, turned into the Fastest American woman in the 200-yard individual medley on one magical night.

Smit, who admits she hadn't swam the event much this season, put her name in the United States and NCAA record books on Thursday night at the 23rd annual Pac-10 Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Smit won the 200-yard individual medley in a U.S.-best 1 minute, 53.11 seconds by fending off junior teammate Elaine Breeden (1:54.32).

'Just coming back from the Olympics this summer, I had a lot more confidence in my training and my racing,' Smit said. 'I think the whole year has been going pretty well so far. I thought I had a chance to go 1:53, but not 1:53 low.

'I thought like breaking 1:54 was more realistic, so I'm pretty surprised.'

Smit topped the American record of 1:53.77 established by Katie Hoff in the U.S. Open on Dec. 7, 2007 and the old NCAA mark of 1:53.91 set by Maggie Bowen of Auburn in 2002.

On the strength of a 200-yard freestyle relay win and individual wins from senior Lara Jackson (50 freestyle) and freshman Alyssa Anderson (500 free), defending NCAA champion Arizona took a big step toward winning its fourth Pac-10 team title in a row.

The Wildcats lead the team race 510.5 points to Stanford's 430 after seven events.

'I'll be very honest, winning the Pac-10 is very nice, but that's not what this meet is all about for us,' said Arizona coach Frank Busch, whose team entered ranked No. 4 in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) national poll behind No. 2 Stanford. 'We want to race really well [this week] so we can be real good in a couple of weeks [at the NCAA championships]. I'm really happy with the way our kids are performing.

'We've got a little bug going through our team that we're working through right now, but everyone probably does.'

The Wildcats set Pac-10 meet and conference marks in two events as the 200-yard freestyle established new standards in winning its fifth consecutive Pac-10 crown in the event.

'It was great for the individuals to win, but it was really nice to see the relay win at the end, because the relays are kind of the M.O. of your team,' said Busch. 'I think we're strong enough to have a run at [the NCAA title].'

Jackson led the relay, which finished in 1:27.47 to better its own Pac-10 records set in 2006 and 2007. Anna Turner, Justine Schluntz and Taylor Baughman completed the record-setting relay team.

Jackson, who won an NCAA championship in the 50 free in 2007, missed re-setting her NCAA record in the event by three-tenths of a second with a time of 21.36. The swim was good for Pac-10 meet and conference records.

Smit, who won the 200 IM at the Pac-10 2007 meet and was third in 2008, finished strong to hold off Breeden and also set Pac-10 meet and conference records in the process.

'I think they kind of have like a sister rivalry, with good banter and good humor,' said Stanford coach Lea Maurer. 'They are two totally different beasts, but they train great and push each other. It's a great balance.'

Said Maurer of Smit: 'She loves this kind of environment and kind of feels that she needs to rally the troops.'

It was Smit's fourth Pac-10 title, taking it in a race where three competitors put up NCAA-qualifying times. Arizona junior Jenny Forster (1:55.27) and Breeden also advanced to the NCAAs in the 200 IM.

Smit captured a NCAA title in the 400 IM in 2008 and participated in the 2008 Bejing Olympic Games. Her teammate, Breeden, pushed her to the finish in the 200 IM.

'It's really fun to be racing right next to someone who's on your team,' Smit said. 'You're kind of like cheering for them as you're swimming. It's nice. We definitely banter at practice and we have a lot in common.'

Arizona's Anderson backed up her top-seeded status with a victory in the 500-yard freestyle from her far outside starting spot in Lane 8. She narrowly missed an NCAA-qualifying time in 4:38.71. Her NCAA consideration time was 0.35 seconds off the qualifying standard.

Anderson came into the Pac-10 meet with a conference-best time of 4:39.54, but finished eighth in the preliminaries at 4:45.61 for the last spot into the finals.

Checking in second in the 50 free was California freshman Liv Jensen (21.94).

Marisa Samaniego, a senior at UCLA, fulfilled the promise of being named Pac-10 Diving Freshman/Newcomer of the Year as a freshman by taking the 1-meter diving finals. Samaniego, eighth in 2008 as a junior, stepped up her performance to cap her career and scored 320.95 points for the triumph over Victoria Ishimatsu (313.90).

Pac-10 Men's Diving Championships

Arizona State senior Micky Benedetti captured third consecutive Pac-10 title in 3-meter diving, holding on to beat USC freshman Harrison Jones 402.70 points to 398.15.

Stanford's Brent Eichenseer took third with 388.15.

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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