Pac-10 Women's Swimming Championships Day Three Results

Feb. 27, 2009

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By MATT MASSEY
Special to The Pac-10 Conference

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Two days, two NCAA records for Stanford junior Julia Smit.USC senior Rebecca Soni joined in to make a another big splash.

Times keeping dropping like anchors.

It was also an NCAA record day at the pool for Soni, America's currentbreaststroke queen and 2008 U.S. Summer Olympics surprise.

Smit followed up Thursday's 200 individual medley American record with anNCAA-best time of 4 minutes, 1.56 seconds in the 400 IM on Friday night in the 23rdannual Pac-10 Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at theWeyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Soni, who won Olympic gold in the 2008 Summer Olympics with a world-record timein the 200-meter breaststroke, captured the 100-yard breaststroke crown in anNCAA-record clocking on Friday.

The shy, innocent looks belie a killer instinct in the pool for the Trojans'star.

'She's very competitive,' said USC coach Dave Salo. 'She likes to race. Myfirst year [in 2006-07] that was her biggest complaint, `Who am I going to race inpractice? Who am I going to race in practice?'

'I think the biggest thing is she just trusts herself now.'

Salo wanted Soni to enjoy her senior season after an amazing Olympic experiencethat gave her confidence, but took a physical and emotional toll.

'It's just all coming from her heart and she's discovering to trust herinstincts about being an athlete and what she needs to do in her training,' Salosaid. 'She can really move as far as she wants to move. The toughest thing to do wasto come off an Olympic Games and all the hype about that.

'What we tried to do when she came back [after a month and a half off] was tokeep the pressure off her and don't add to the pressure of being an Olympicchampion.'

Soni touched the wall in a time of 58.10 seconds for NCAA, Pac-10 meet andconference marks, just .43 seconds shy of the American mark set of 57.77 by formerCal swimmer Natalie Coughlin on March 4, 2006 at the U.S. Open.Swimming the second leg, Soni also helped the Trojans 400-yard medley relay to aPac-10 crown.

'The competition here is great and it makes me want to swim fast,' said Soni, thethree-time defending NCAA champion in the 200-yard breast and 2008 champ in the 100breast. 'I was definitely taken aback by accomplishments this summer. It is prettyhard to re-motivate yourself, especially after having such little rest to come backand start training again.

'But my teammates helped me a lot. They made practice fun every day.'

Smit accelerated into the limelight for the second night in a row at the Pac-10meet.

Smit, the defending NCAA champion in the 400 IM, churned to her winning 200 IMtime to set NCAA, Pac-10 meet and conference marks. The Cardinal star, an Olympianin 2008, cruised to a big victory over USC freshman Katinka Hosszu (4:03.60).

'I don't think I came into this meet with too many specific goals, because I'mmore focused on the NCAAs at the end of the season,' said Smit. 'I was just excitedto be with the whole team and see the whole team race. I've been feeling prettygood, though.

'I think there's more there. I definitely think I can go faster in the 400 IM. The200 IM is a little more fun, because it hurts a little less. The 400 IM's alwaysbeen like my baby, though.'

Smit finished just 1.06 seconds off the American mark set by Dagny Knutson ofMinot YMCA on Dec. 5, 2008 at the U.S. Open.

Smit won the 200 IM title on Thursday night in an American record time of1:53.11, bettering the NCAA mark in the process. She'll go for another two crownsSaturday night as No. 3 seed in the 100-yard freestyle or with the Cardinal'sthird-seeded 400-yard free relay.

In the Pac-10 team race, even with Ana Agy's win in the 100-yard backstroke,second-day leader Arizona couldn't resist California from taking over the lead 990.5points to 937.5 after 14 events. Stanford sits third at 873. Arizona, the defending NCAA team champion, couldn't pull off a Pac-10 repeat in the 400-yard medley relay after USC's strong showing. The Wildcats won the event in the NCAA meet in 2008.With Soni joining Kristen Lahey, Katinka Hosszu and Rachael Waller, USC won the400-yard medley relay in a time of 3:31.75, just edging Arizona by three-tenths of asecond.

Elaine Breeden, Smit's junior teammate at Stanford, pulled off an upset in the100-yard butterfly finals, covering the distance in 50.87 from Lane 6.

Breeden, the No. 6 seed from the preliminaries, upended 2007 NCAA champion DanaVollmer of California by surging late to outkick Vollmer, who took second at 51.11.

Both Breeden and Vollmer, who set an American record in the 200 free whenleading off the Bears' victorious 800-yard freestyle relay, put up NCAA-qualifyingtimes. Vollmer was denied her third consecutive 100 fly title in the Pac-10.

Vollmer made amends for her 100 fly defeat immediately with a gutty late rallyto win the 200-yard freestyle final over Cal teammate and freshman Sara Isakovic.The Bears' senior clocked in at 1:42.68 to set a Pac-10 meet record with Isakovic(1:43) and defending Pac-10 200 free champion Kate Dwelley (1:43.80) close behind.

Agy, an Arizona junior, took top honors in the 100 back with an NCAA-qualifyingclocking of 51.65, denying Cal's Lauren Rogers a third consecutive Pac-10 title inthe event.

Rogers finished in 51.86.

USC freshman Victoria Ishimatsu won the 3-meter diving competition in dramaticfashion 327.70 points to 325.90 over Stanford's Carmen Stellar.

Stellar's Cardinal teammate Margaret Hostage took third at 321.35.

Pac-10 Men's Diving Championships
USC freshman Harrison Jones nailed down the platform diving title on Fridayafternoon with a score of 417.60 points, outdistancing runner-up Benjamin Grado ofArizona. Grado finished with 363.50 points.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP INFORMATION
* The 28th Annual NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will take placeThurs., March 19 through Sat., March 21 at the Student Recreation Center Natatoriumin College Station, Texas.* The 87th Annual NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships will take placeThurs., March 26 through Sat., March 28 at the Student Recreation Center Natatoriumin College Station, Texas.

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