Women's swimmers and divers gear up for NCAA Championships
By the Pac-12 Conference
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Swimmers and divers from seven Pac-12 teams are headed to the 2013 NCAA championships this week at the IU Natatorium and IUPUI Sports Complex in Indianapolis, Ind. The meet runs from March 21-23. Four Pac-12 schools have combined for 13 NCAA titles, with California climbing the podium in three of the last four: 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Stanford has claimed eight crowns overall, while USC won in 1997 and Arizona captured the national title in 2008.
ESPN3 will carry a live broadcast of the finals sessions on Friday and Saturday, and ESPNU will air the meet on tape delay on Wednesday, March 27 at 6 p.m. PT.
Two-time defending NCAA champion California seeks its fourth title in five years. The group of 12 swimmers features a number of All-Americans from the 2011 and 2012 title teams, including reigning NCAA individual champions Caitlin Leverenz (200 breaststroke, 200 IM) and Cindy Tran (100 backstroke). Leverenz and Tran have both qualified in three events. Leverenz was named the Swimmer of the Meet at the 2012 NCAA Championships. The Bears are bolstered by several talented freshman, including Elizabeth Pelton, the Swimmer of the Meet at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships, and 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Rachel Bootsma, each of whom has qualified for three events. For the second consecutive year, and just the third time in program history, Cal has qualified a diver. Junior Kahley Rowell placed fifth on the platform at the 2012 NCAA Championships.
Pac-12 Champion Stanford sends nine swimmers to the NCAA Championships. Senior Andi Murez and sophomore Maddy Schaefer return from the Cardinal's 2012 NCAA champion 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. Murez is an eight-time All-American. Junior Maya DiRado, the 2012 NCAA runner-up in the 200 backstroke, holds the sixth fastest time in the event this season. She is also the reigning Pac-12 champion in the 400 IM.
USC's group of 12 is led by senior Haley Anderson, who looks to defend her 2012 NCAA title in the 500 freestyle. Anderson, who won a silver medal in the marathon 10K in the London Olympics, has eight All-America honors in her career. Fellow Olympian Stina Gardell claimed a trio of top-three finishes at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships and looks to contend for a podium position in the 200 IM, the 400 IM and the 200 breaststroke. Sophomore diver Haley Ishimatsu, the 2013 Pac-12 Diver of the Meet and reigning Conference platform champion, represented the United States in the 2008 Olympics and took fourth on the platform at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials this past summer.
Arizona will take 10 swimmers and one diver to Indianapolis. Five-time All-American Ellyn Baumgardner was the runner-up in the 100 breast at the Pac-12 Championships and owns the NCAA's sixth-fastest time in the event this season. Junior sprinter Margo Geer, the Conference champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle, holds the NCAA's top time in the 50 freestyle and the second-fastest time in the 100 freestyle this season. Versatile freshman Bonnie Brandon, the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month in January, looks to challenge for the national title in the 200 backstroke. Junior diver Samantha Pickens, who earned a pair of runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships in 2012, placed third on the one-meter and second on the three-meter at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships.
Five swimmers and divers Morgan Weller and Hailey Casper will represent Arizona State. Junior All-American Tristin Baxter finished second in the 1,650 freestyle at last month's Pac-12 Championships. Weller, a freshman, is the reigning Pac-12 Champion on the one-meter springboard.
UCLA has a group of seven swimmers and one diver headed to Indy. Junior sprint freestyler Kathryn Murphy, who owns the UCLA short-course records in the 50 and 100 freestyle, will swim in the latter at the NCAA championships. Sophomore diver Emma Ivory-Ganja, closed the 2013 regular season with victories in four of her final six events and finished second on the platform and third on the three-meter at the Pac-12 Championships.
Oregon State freshman Samantha Harrison heads to her first NCAA Championships. Harrison will compete in the 1,650 freestyle.
For more information on the 2013 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, visit www.ncaa.com/championships/swimming-women/d1.