This year in Pac-12 women's swimming and diving
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – It was yet another stellar year for Pac-12 women’s swimming and diving as three teams finished in the top five at the 2014 NCAA Championships and four total in the top-10, tying the SEC for the highest total of any conference. CALIFORNIA, STANFORD and USC were ranked in the top-10 in the country all year long, with the Bears garnering the No. 1 ranking for much of January and February thanks to standout freshman and Olympic Gold Medalist Missy Franklin. The Cardinal were led by two outstanding seniors in Maya DiRado and Felicia Lee. Lee was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month of for November and January while Franklin earned the honors in December and February. The Cardinal finished the regular season undefeated in dual meets, including a win over the Bears in the final meet prior to the Pac-12 Championships, and were the favorites heading into postseason play.
Bolstered by a series of strong finishes on the third and fourth day of competition, CALIFORNIA captured its second Pac-12 Championship in three years. After two days of competition and strong swimming by DiRado, Stanford found themselves in first place; however, the Bears used four individual titles and two relay titles to topple the Cardinal with 1,552.5 points. Second-place Stanford finished with 1,364 points, while USC collected 1,327 to take third. Franklin was a key component to the Bears victory as she set meet records in winning the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle events while contributing to three Cal relay titles in the 800 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 400 medley events. Franklin, who collected Pac-12 Newcomer/Freshman of the Year accolades, was named Swimmer of the Meet at the Pac-12 Championships after her record-setting performance.
Despite coming in second at the Conference championships, Stanford capped an impressive year, scoring 402.5 points to place second at the NCAA Championships. It was their highest point total since 2000 and best finish since 2010. California, which claimed one individual national title and one relay title, finished third (386), while USC placed fifth (252) and ARIZONA took eighth (156). DiRado propelled Stanford to it’s 17th top three finish all-time by sweeping the individual medley events, contributing to two other national title relays and adding two additional top-three finishes.
After collecting three individual titles at the Pac-12 Championships in addition to her NCAA titles, DiRado was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year. In just his second year at the helm, Stanford head coach Greg Meehan garnered Pac-12 Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year honors after leading the Cardinal to a stellar year.
USC’s Haley Ishimatsu was named Pac-12 Women’s Diver of the Year after capturing Pac-12 titles in the three-meter and platform and repeating as NCAA champion on the platform. She was the first women’s diver to repeat on platform since 1992-93. She was also named Pac-12 Diver of the Meet for the second-consecutive year. ARIZONA freshman Michal Bower was named Pac-12 Women’s Diving Freshman/Newcomer of the Year after second-place finishes in the one-meter and three-meter at the Pac-12 Championships. During month of February, Bower never finished lower than second in either of those two events. USC’s Hongping Li was tabbed the Pac-12 Women’s Diving Coach of the Year for the sixth-consecutive year and a record 11th time overall. Under his tutelage, Ishimatsu and her older sister Victoria, a former diver under Li, have been named Pac-12 Diver of the Year five times and own a combined 10 Pac-12 individual titles.
Arizona’s Margo Geer ended a stellar career as a Wildcat as she was named the 2014 Women’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the Pac-12 Championships in late February. The 2013 NCAA champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle events repeated in the 100 freestyle final against a stacked field at the 2014 NCAA Championships.
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