California Golden Bears win 2011 Women's Swimming and Diving National Title

Courtesy of calbears.com

AUSTIN, Texas - A season-long dedication to excellence culminated in California capturing its second team title in three years in the NCAA Championships at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. The Golden Bears clinched their team victory by taking third place in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last race of the meet, and collecting a school-record 424 points to edge second-place Georgia (394.5 points). USC finished third (351) and Stanford was fourth (272).

Cal head coach Teri McKeever also earned her second Swimming Coach of the Championship award in three years after leading the Bears to their national title.

"It was a total team effort," McKeever said, "and I'm really proud of the way everybody contributed. The team was very professional; that's really the only word I can think of to describe them. It was pretty exciting."

The Bears also won their first NCAA team crown in the Lone Star State, reaching the top podium in College Station, Texas, on the campus of Texas A&M in 2009.

"It's real different," McKeever said of her latest championship. "In 2009, someone else messed up, and we took advantage of it. This was, without sounding arrogant, a dominant performance."

As in 2009, the 2011 Cal squad tied a program high with five national titles - the 100-yard butterfly (senior Amanda Sims), 100-yard backstroke (freshman Cindy Tran), 200- and 400-yard medley relays, and 200-yard freestyle relay.

Cal had a pair of freshman in the first final of the night - the 200-yard backstroke. Deborah Roth, who took second in the 100-backstroke final on Friday, finished eighth in the 200 with a time of 1:53.80, while Stephanie Au won the consolation final in a time of 1:53.33. Au's time places her fourth on Cal's all-time list. Wisconsin's Maggie Meyer won the race in a time of 1:50.76.

Three Bears swam in the 100-yard freestyle finals, with senior Hannah Wilson clocking a time of 48.12 to take seventh and junior Liv Jensen placing eighth in a time of 48.32. Senior Erica Dagg finished 10th with a time of 48.17. Auburn's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, the 50-free champ, won the 100 free in a time of 47.07.

Sophomore Caitlin Leverenz broke her own school record in the 200-yard breaststroke, posting a time of 2:06.23. Leverenz took the lead in the latter half of the final, but a tight finish resulted in Minnesota's Haley Spencer winning in a time of 2:06.12.

Sims, junior Sara Isakovic and senior Katie Kastes swam in the 200-yard butterfly finals, poising Cal to capture the team title in the relay. Sims, who won the 100 fly on Friday, finished fifth in the 200 with a time of 1:54.2. Sims wound up her Cal career as the third-fastest swimmer in the 200 fly with her prelim time of 1:53.17.

Isakovic also swam in the 200-fly A final, placing seventh in a time of 1:54.88, while Kastes, swimming in her final event as a Bear, finished 12th with a career-best time of 1:56.77. Kastes' time made her the ninth-fastest 200 flyer in school history. USC's Katinka Hosszu, also the Pac-10 champion in the 200 fly, won her third national title in a pool-record time of 1:51.69.

The Cal quartet of Wilson, Isakovic, Dagg and Jensen clocked a season-best time of 3:12.20 to take third in the 400-free relay. Georgia won the relay in an American- and pool-record time of 3:11.03. Cal set the NCAA record of 3:09.88 when it won the national team title in 2009.

"We've got a talented group," McKeever added. "We have nine freshmen at home who have challenged all of us. It's been great - great leadership, especially from Amanda and Hannah. It's a total team effort, which is wonderful."

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