Cal Claims Pac-10 Women's Swimming Title

March 1, 2009

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By MATT MASSEY
Special to The Pac-10 Conference

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Talk about an encore performance to close out the Pac-10Conference Women's and Diving Championships.

USC senior Rebecca Soni, Stanford junior Elaine Breeden and the University ofCalifornia's entire team all stepped up.

Led by Soni's flair, the meet was filled with a bevy of top times and capped bya breakthrough team title for California.

Soni, a USC senior, is staking her claim as the top breaststroker in the world.And, Breeden is making a case as the nation's top swimmer in the butterfly.

Soni, an Olympic gold medal winner, took another step toward a bigger goal witha dominating winning performance - one that saw her shatter an American record - inthe 200-yard breaststroke in Saturday night's finals of the 23rd annual Pac-10 meetat the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

The Trojans' star swimmer stopped the timer in 2 minutes, 4.75 seconds andbroke the old U.S. record by almost a full second to repeat in the event at thePac-10 meet. Soni topped the former mark set by former Stanford standout Tara Kirk,who went 2:05.73 on March 3, 2006 in the U.S. Open.

'It was a great meet and a little faster than I thought it would be,' saidSoni, who was named Pac-10 Swimmer of the Meet. 'I'm really surprised to be Swimmerof the Meet, considering the other amazing swims this week. It's really an honor tobe Swimmer of the Meet in my last Pac-10s.

'I'm excited about the future, but I'm also sad about leaving college swimming.But I'll definitely be around and watching. I'm excited about our team.'

The Pac-10 meet featured some top-notch efforts, including four Americanrecords, seven NCAA marks, nine Pac-10 Conference bests and 10 Pac-10 meet standardsbroken.

Soni, who will go for her fourth consecutive NCAA title in the 200 breast March19-21, won the 200 breast event by almost six seconds as she left the field in herwake. Checking in for a second-place tie were Cal's Alexandra Ellis and Arizona'sJulie Stupp, both at 2:10.57.

Soni's winning ways are becoming habit, but for California winning the Pac-10team title was a first in school history and the first time since the Pac-10'sinaugural meet in 1987.

The Bears, led by senior Dana Vollmer's two individual wins and effort on twovictorious relays, won the last event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relay tofinish with 1,550 points.

Cal, ranked 11th coming into the meet, outfinished fourth-ranked Arizona(1,339) and second-ranked Stanford (1,317). Ninth-ranked USC, behind Soni factoringinto three wins, was fourth at 915.

'I'm just really proud of the girls,' Cal coach Teri McKeever, who is in her17th year. 'It was a total team effort. Every diver, every swimmer scored. They'veworked hard all year. We'll celebrate, but then we've got to re-focus.

'Our job now is to find a way to be better in three weeks [for NCAAs]. That'swhat we'll try to do.'

McKeever credits the caliber of swimmers in the Pac-10 for bettering her team.

'It's definitely a wonderful conference,' she said. 'Arizona and Stanford havemade us better. It's been a fun battle.

'This is pretty special. The girls said [Pac-10 championship trophy] would look goodin my office.'

Just minutes after Soni's record performance, Breeden shattered the Americanmark in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:49.92. Breeden, who also set NCAA,Pac-10 Conference and Pac-10 meet marks, eclipsed the standard set by Mary Descenzaon Jan. 16 of this year in Long Beach, Calif.

Breeden outdistanced runner-up Saori Haruguchi of Oregon State, the defendingNCAA champion, by almost three seconds. Haruguchi checked in with a time of 1:52.81.

'I definitely wasn't expecting best times this week,' said Breeden, who won herthird 200 fly in a row at the Pac-10 meet. 'We didn't even taper this week and wewere lifting. I wasn't putting a lot of pressure on myself. I came in low key and Ithink that works best for me.

'I'm hoping for best times [at NCAAs], but in the past I'd had my best times atPac-10s. I didn't feel rested coming into this week, but I put up some best times.'

Saturday's win gave Breeden two Pac-10 titles, following her Friday triumph inthe 100 fly.

Vollmer collected her second individual win of the Pac-10 meet, capturing the100-yard freestyle in a Pac-10 meet record time of 47.19 seconds on Saturday.Vollmer, who factored in four Pac-10 titles this week, held off sophomore teammateHannah Wilson (47.89) and Stanford's Julia Smit (47.98).

Lauren Boyle, a California junior, dominated in the 1,650-yard freestyle finalswith a time of 15:56.93, more than 17 seconds faster than the runner-up, PetraRadovic of Washington.

Boyle, who was fifth in the NCAA meet in 2008, repeated as a Pac-10 champion inthe event as a top seed.

Boyle was also part of two relay wins at the Pac-10 meet -- the 800 free relayon Wednesday and 400 free relay on Saturday.

The Bears' 400 free relay, consisting of Vollmer, Erica Dagg, Madison Kennedyand Hannah Wilson, put up a time of 3:11.05 and established NCAA, Pac-10 Conferenceand Pac-10 meet records.

The NCAA mark bettered the old standard of 3:11.34 set by Arizona at the NCAAmeet in 2008.

Washington junior Erin Campbell posted the third-fastest time in the country in the200-yard backstroke with a 1:51.27, the top effort in the preliminaries. Then, Campbell went on to win the Pac-10 finals with an NCAA-qualifying clocking of1:51.33, denying defending champion Lauren Rogers a repeat. Campbell also turnedback the top seed before the meet, Ana Agy of Arizona, who was second in 1:52.88 andgoing for her second title of the meet.

It was the Huskies' lone champion of the Pac-10 meet.

Stanford junior Carmen Stellar won the women's platform diving with a score of257.55 points to edge UCLA's Laura Winn (252.05).

Automatic qualifiers to NCAA championship meet:
Arizona: 200-yard medley relay (Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler, Lara Jackson,Lindsey Kelly); Jackson, 50-yard freestyle; Jenny Forster, 200-yard individualmedley; 200-yard freestyle relay (Jackson, Anna Turner, Justine Schluntz, TaylorBaughman); Ana Agy, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke;Andrea Boritzke, 100-yard backstroke; 400-yard medley relay (Agy, Chandler, Jackson,Schluntz).

California: 800-yard freestyle relay (Dana Vollmer, Madison Kennedy, Lauren Boyle, Hannah Wilson); Vollmer, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly and 100-yardfreestyle; 200-yard freestyle relay (Vollmer, Wilson, Erica Dagg, Jensen); LaurenRogers, 100-yard backstroke; Hannah Wilson, 100-yard butterfly; Amanda Sims,100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly; Sara Isakovic, 200-yard freestyle;400-yard freestyle relay (Vollmer, Dagg, Kennedy, Wilson).

Oregon State: Saori Haruguchi, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly.

Stanford: 800-yard freestyle relay (Julia Smit, Sam Woodward, Whitney Spence, KateDwelley); Smit, 200-yard individual medley and 400-yard individual medley; ElaineBreeden, 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly; 200-yard freestyle relay (Smit, Breeden, Dwelley, Woodward); Dwelley, 200-yardfreestyle; 400-yard freestyle relay (Dwelley, Woodward, Breeden, Smit).

USC: Katinka Hosszu, 400-yard individual medley and 200-yard butterfly; Kristen Lahey, 100-yard backstroke; Rebecca Soni, 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yardbreaststroke; 400-yard medley relay (Lahey, Soni, Hosszu, Rachael Waller).

Washington: Erin Campbell, 200-yard backstroke; Genna Patterson, 100-yard backstroke.

Records set at the Pac-10 meet American, NCAA, Pac-10 Conference and Pac-10 meet records - Dana Vollmer,California, 200 free, 1:41.53 (set on first leg of 800-yard free relay); Julia Smit,Stanford, 200 IM, 1:53.11; Rebecca Soni, USC, 200 breaststroke, 2:04.75; ElaineBreeden, Stanford, 200 butterfly, 1:49.92.NCAA, Pac-10 Conference, Pac-10 meet records - Soni, USC, 100 breaststroke, 58.10;Smit, Stanford, 400 IM, 4:01.56; California (Vollmer, Dagg, Kennedy, Wilson), 400free relay, 3:11.05.Pac-10 Conference and Pac-10 meet records - Lara Jackson, Arizona, 50 free, 21.36;Arizona (Jackson, Anna Turner, Justine Schluntz, Taylor Baughman), 200 free relay,1:27.47.Pac-10 meet records - Vollmer, California, 100 free, 47.19.

Swimmer of the meet - Soni, USC.
Diver of the meet - Stellar, Stanford.

Final Team Standings
1. California, 1,550 points
2. Arizona 1,339
3. Stanford 1,317
4. USC 915
5. Washington 697
6. UCLA 679
7. Arizona State 564
8. Oregon State 412
9. Washington State 341

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 place Thurs.,March 26 through Sat., March 28 at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium inCollege Station, Texas.

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