Two Days, Two Records and Two NCAA Championships For Julia Smit - Junior Sensation Captures 400 IM Title
March 20, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. - For the second consecutive day, Stanford junior Julia Smit set an American, U.S. Open and NCAA record, doing so tonight with a swim of 4:00.56 to win the 2009 NCAA championship in the 400 IM. A night after lowering her own record in the 200 IM, Smit was .06-second faster than the previous American and U.S. Open standard of 4:00.62 set by Dagny Knutson at last December's U.S. Open Short Course Nationals. Smit also lowered her own NCAA record, which she set with a time of 4:01.56 at the Pac-10 Championships.
With her electrifying effort tonight, Smit became the first Stanford female to sweep the two IM events at the same NCAA Championships since Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders did so in both 1991 and 1992. Smit also successfully defended her 2008 NCAA title in the 400 IM, becoming the event's first repeat winner since Auburn's Maggie Bowen won three straight from 2001-03.
'For Julia to set another American record under these circumstances is a Herculean task,' said Stanford head coach Lea Maurer. 'It's a tight field and a star-studded group; just to win is a phenomenal achievement in and of itself, but to do so while setting an American record is a tribute to her will.'
Stanford remained in fourth place after day two of the 2009 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, with a total of 213.5 points. California has moved in front with 302 points through 14 events, while second-place Georgia (295.5 points), third-place Arizona (282.5) and fifth-place Auburn (195) round out the top five. The meet is being held at the Student Recreation Center Natatorium on the campus of Texas A&M University.
'Tomorrow will be another tough day, as this meet is unforgiving,' commented Maurer. 'We'll come out tomorrow morning with a lot of passion and a lot of energy, and we'll do everything we can to put ourselves in a position to come home with some hardware.'
Sophomore Kate Dwelley had a stellar effort of her own tonight, setting the Stanford record in the 200 free with a time of 1:43.14 to finish fourth. Her swim tonight lowered the school standard by .48-second, as she bettered the time of 1:43.61 posted by Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson in 1992.
'Kate swam a great race, and swam with all her heart,' said Maurer. 'She also led off the 800 free relay, since the 200 is her baby, and she truly did a great job in a phenomenally tough field.'
Stanford also had a successful showing in the 100 fly, taking two of the top six spots. Junior Elaine Breeden finished a close second with a time of 51.34 - just .06-second out of first. Making her first career appearance at the NCAA Championships, junior Kelley Hug became an All-American when she finished sixth with a time of 52.32. In addition, Hug's preliminary swim of 52.09 moves her up to fifth on the list of Stanford's all-time best performers. Even more impressive, she entered the preliminaries as the 22nd seed in the event.
Right behind Hug in the preliminaries was fellow NCAA Championships rookie Stefanie Sutton, and the junior narrowly missed the finals with a 17th-place time of 52.64 that lifts her into eighth on Stanford's all-time list.
Senior Laura Wadden collected her third All-America honor, and first in the backstroke, when she placed 15th in the 100 back with a time of 53.22. She went from the 35th seed to the consolation finals on the strength of a 52.70 swim in the preliminaries that ranks her second in Stanford history.
'The efforts of Kelley, Stefanie and Laura were a huge energy boost for the entire team, and two great emotional events for us,' offered Maurer. 'It's a sign that hard work pays off, as all three have put forth tremendous effort. It also shows that if you swim at Stanford, and you make the NCAAs, you are expected to swim well, and you will.'
Stanford also competed in a pair of relays, while its 800 free relay set a school record in the final event of the evening to finish fourth. The foursome of Dwelley, freshman Sam Woodward, junior Whitney Spence and sophomore Liz Smith touched the wall in 6:58.64 to lower the school mark by .64-second. Dwelley's time of 1:43.27 in the leadoff leg was just .13-second off her 200 free earlier in the night, and was also better than Thompson's 17-year-old school record.
The Cardinal 200 medley relay netted Stanford 12 points with an 11th-place finish, as Wadden, Smith, Breeden and Woodward posted a time of 1:38.34.
The 2009 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will conclude 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). Seven events will be contested in the meet's third and final day - the 1,650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, platform diving and the 400 free relay.