Butterfly's Best - Elaine Breeden Wins NCAA Title in 200 Fly; Stanford Brings Home Hardware With Fourth-Place Finish
March 21, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. - The Stanford women's swimming and diving team concluded an excellent season by winning its third individual NCAA Championship in as many days, and placing fourth to bring home championship hardware for the third straight season. Tonight, the Cardinal saw Olympian Elaine Breeden reclaim the NCAA title in the 200 butterfly, setting a meet record with a time of 1:50.98. Breeden is now a two-time NCAA champion in the 200 fly, as she also won the event as a freshman in 2007.
Stanford briefly fell out of trophy contention, dropping to fifth after the second event of the evening. However, the Cardinal stormed back over the final five events to finish in fourth with a final team score of 312.5 points. By placing fourth, Stanford has returned to The Farm with an NCAA trophy in each of the last three seasons under fourth-year head coach Lea Maurer (2007-09).
'Coming home with hardware is something that should always be celebrated, and is a tribute to everyone on the team who worked so hard,' said Maurer. 'This team handles adversity with a lot of class, and really takes to heart the Stanford heritage. We want to continue to build upon each year, and continue the excellent tradition of Stanford swimming.
'We feel really good about the outcome, and we are all definitely celebrating,' continued Maurer. 'Hopefully, we set up some good momentum for the guys next week (at the men's NCAA Championships March 26-28)!'
Breeden outlasted a strong field in the 200 fly, setting a meet record for the second time in the day after swimming a 1:51.85 in the preliminaries. The junior has emerged as one of the country's top butterfly talents, also placing second in the 100 fly earlier in the meet. Breeden has now finished either first or second in five of the six butterfly finals over her first three NCAA Championships, while placing fourth in the other.
'Elaine had been amazing this whole week,' commented Maurer. 'She hasn't been feeling that well all week, and to stay totally poised and swim near to her best times - which are NCAA-record times - is a tribute to her confidence and will. It is a great story that will be told next year - how even sick, you can be a champion.'
Stanford began its stretch run to the hardware in the 100 free, as the Cardinal captured three of the top 11 positions. Junior Julia Smit complemented her two NCAA titles in the 200 and 400 IM by finishing third with a time of 47.64, which was .20-second off her school-record time of 47.44 in the prelims. Sophomore Kate Dwelley earned her first All-America honor for the 100 free with a fifth-place time of 47.84, while freshman Sam Woodward continued her excellent NCAA Championships debut by finishing 11th in 48.52.
With the Cardinal clinging to a 3.5-point lead over fifth-place Texas heading into the 21st and final event of the meet, the foursome of Dwelley, Woodward, Breeden and Smit assured another trophy would come to Stanford with a clutch, American-record setting performance in the 400 free relay. Stanford's All-American quartet obliterated the American and school record with a time of 3:11.14 to finish in second and outlast the third-place Texas relay.
'The whole meet was a war, and it came down to the end,' said Maurer. 'In swimming, we always talk about the culminating event, and prepare for it. We had a similar spot in our dual meet against Arizona, where we won with a 400 free relay, so we had experienced. But, to do this on the biggest stage, with a lot of pressure - to break an American record and come away with hardware is great.'
Dwelley set the tone for the 400 free relay with a leadoff leg of 47.50 - a mere .06-second behind the school-record Smit set earlier in the day. Breeden and Woodward each followed with excellent legs of the their own, and Smit ended the meet with a sizzling anchor leg of 47.22.
Stanford saw another pair of athletes earn All-America honors on the meet's final day. Senior Laura Wadden concluded her Cardinal career as a four-time All-American when she finished 11th in the 200 back with a time of 1:53.89. Junior Carmen Stellar, who came into her own as the Diver of the Meet at the 2009 Pac-10 Championships, became an All-American for the first time by virtue of a 14th-place finish on the platform.
With Stellar's effort, Stanford has now had at least one diver obtain All-America status for 15 straight seasons and in 26 of the last 27 campaigns - a tremendous run of success under head diving coach Dr. Rick Schavone.
'Carmen's three points were huge, especially in a meet this close,' said Maurer. 'Not only Carmen, but everyone on the entire team who scored a point made a difference in this meet. Again, I couldn't be more proud of this team.'
Stanford completed the 2009 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships with three individual NCAA champions, three American records, three U.S. Open records, a pair of NCAA records, three meet records and 10 athletes combining for 31 All-American honors. In addition, Cardinal athletes had 18 swims that ranked among the top-10 performers in Stanford history, while setting eight school records.
A full breakdown of Stanford's accomplishments at the 2009 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships follows:
All-Americans (10 athletes; 31 honors)
Elaine Breeden, Jr. - 6 (100 fly, 200 fly, 200 IM, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 400 medley relay)
Breeden is now an 18-time All-American, over three career NCAA Championships
Kate Dwelley, So. - 5 (100 free, 200 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 800 free relay)
Dwelley is now a 9-time All-American, over two career NCAA Championships
Kelley Hug, Jr. - 1 (100 fly)
Hug became an All-American in her first career NCAA Championships
Julia Smit, Jr. - 6 (100 free, 200 IM, 400 IM, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 400 medley relay)
Smit is now an 18-time All-American, over three career NCAA Championships
Liz Smith, So. - 2 (400 medley relay, 800 free relay)
Smith is now a 5-time All-American, over two career NCAA Championships
Whitney Spence, Jr. - 2 (500 free, 800 free relay)
Spence is now a 4-time All-American, over three career NCAA Championships
Carmen Stellar, Jr. - 1 (Platform Diving)
Stellar became an All-American in her first career NCAA Championships
Laura Wadden, Sr. - 2 (100 back, 200 back)
Wadden is now a 4-time All-American, over three career NCAA Championships
Betsy Webb, Fr. - 1 (400 medley relay)
Webb became an All-American in her first career NCAA Championships
Sam Woodward, Fr. - 5 (50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 800 free relay)
Woodward became a 5-time All-American in her first career NCAA Championships
Stanford Record Book (18 swims; 8 records)
50 free: Julia Smit - 1st (21.91) - R
50 free: Sam Woodward - 4th (22.16)
50 free: Betsy Webb - 9th (22.62)*
100 free: Julia Smit - 1st (47.44)*
100 free: Sam Woodward - t-5th (48.42)*
100 free: Betsy Webb - 10th (48.89)*
200 free: Kate Dwelley - 1st (1:43.14)
500 free: Whitney Spence - 4th (4:40.76)*
100 back: Laura Wadden - 3rd (52.70)*
200 back: Laura Wadden - 4th (1:53.72)*
100 fly: Kelley Hug - 5th (52.09)*
100 fly: Stefanie Sutton - 8th (52.64)*
100 fly: Sam Woodward - 10th (52.73)*
200 IM: Julia Smit - 1st (1:52.79)
400 IM: Julia Smit - 1st (4:00.56)
200 free relay: Julia Smit, Kate Dwelley, Elaine Breeden, Sam Woodward - 1st (1:27.62)
400 free relay: Kate Dwelley, Sam Woodward, Elaine Breeden, Julia Smit - 1st (3:11.14)
800 free relay: Kate Dwelley, Sam Woodward, Whitney Spence, Liz Smith Whitney Spence, Liz Smith - 1st (6:58.64)
* - denotes prelims
R - denotes relay split