NCAA Champion! Julia Smit Lowers Her Own American Record to Win the 200 IM Title
March 19, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. - Stanford junior Julia Smit continued her remarkable run in IM events this evening, winning the 2009 NCAA championship in the 200 IM with a time of 1:52.79 - a swim that lowered her own American, U.S. Open and NCAA record by .32-second. Smit is now a two-time NCAA champion, as she won the 400 IM as a sophomore in 2008.
Behind Smit's championship effort and a pair of top-five relays, Stanford finished day one of the 2009 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in fourth place with 105 points. Arizona is in the lead with 141.5 points after six events, while second-place Georgia (133 points), third-place California (126) and fifth-place Auburn (91.5) round out the top five. The meet is being held at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium on the campus of Texas A&M University.
'We were really excited about the first day,' said fourth-year Stanford head coach Lea Maurer. 'We got a scoring swim in every event, and swam better in the night than the morning, which we hope to continue for the next few days. I definitely think it's one of the best nights we've had since I've been here, and we're going to build on it going forward.'
Smit's victory broke a three-way tie with Auburn and Florida for the most-ever NCAA championships in the 200 IM, as Stanford now has seven all-time titles in the event. Smit captured Stanford's first 200 IM crown since Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson in 1995, while the junior sensation also joins Susan Rapp (1986), Janel Jorgensen (1990) and Summer Sanders (1991-92) among the pantheon of Cardinal champions in the event.
Smit's epic race featured an opening 50-yard butterfly split of 25.08 seconds, followed by a time of 28.42 in the backstroke, a 32.26 in the breaststroke and a closing freestyle leg of 27.03.
'Julia had just a spectacular swim,' commented Maurer. 'She is definitely carrying the big burden, and to do it with an American record is phenomenal.'
Stanford set a school record in the 200 freestyle relay en route to a solid fourth-place finish. The foursome of Smit, sophomore Kate Dwelley, junior Elaine Breeden and freshman Sam Woodward touched the wall in 1:27.62 in the 200 free relay to break that same group's previous mark of 1:28.01. Smit swam the leadoff leg in 21.91 seconds to set Stanford's all-time standard for the 50 free, breaking a tie she had held with Catherine Fox (22.01).
The Cardinal 400 medley relay narrowly missed another school record in the final event of the day, posting a fourth-place time of 3:31.97 that was just .23-second off the school mark set in 2002. Freshman Betsy Webb swam the leadoff backstroke leg, followed by sophomore Liz Smith (breast), Breeden (fly) and Smit (free).
Stanford's two freshmen earned their first All-America honors on the meet's opening day. Woodward became an All-American in her very first event when she helped the 200 free relay to a fourth place finish, then won the consolation heat of the 50 free with a time of 22.16. Webb's effort in the 400 medley relay garnered the first All-America honor of her career.
'It's a tribute not only to our freshmen, but also to the leadership of the upperclassmen,' offered Maurer. 'The upperclassmen are really building a culture of winning, and breeding a lot of confidence. Our veterans have created a culture that freshmen can excel in the biggest championship meets, and Betsy and Sam came out and had a terrific opening night.'
Junior Whitney Spence also provided the Cardinal with a first-day highlight, earning her third career All-America honor - but first in an individual event - by placing 15th in the 500 free with a time of 4:43.79. In addition, Spence's time of 4:40.76 in the preliminaries moves her up to fourth on Stanford's all-time top-10 athletes list.
Breeden added three more All-America honors to her career total this evening, swimming on both Stanford fourth-place relays and finishing fifth in the 200 IM with a time of 1:54.80.
The 2009 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will continue tomorrow, with the morning preliminaries beginning at 9:00 a.m. PT (11:00 a.m. CT) and the evening finals starting at 5:00 p.m. PT (7:00 p.m. CT). Eight events will be contested tomorrow - the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 3-meter diving and the 800 free relay.