This year in Pac-12 women's swimming & diving

Chuckarelei

SAN FRANCISCO – It was yet another remarkable year for Pac-12 women’s swimming and diving as three teams finished in the top 10 at the 2016 NCAA Championships and six total in the top-20. The Conference of Champions won the NCAA total team points battle, with league teams collecting 1,185.5 points combined. The point total is an impressive feat, as six Conference schools scored at NCAA Championships compared to the SEC’s nine teams (1,149.5 combined team points). Pac-12 swimmers and divers collected 43 CSCAA All-America honors with their impressive finishes.

In a year of historic accomplishments, USC captured its first-ever Pac-12 title at the 2016 Pac-12 Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships with 1481 points. The Trojans assembled a complete performance, where each USC student-athlete scored to contribute to the win. The Championship was remarkable, as multiple records were set at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. STANFORD assembled two relays which proved to be the fastest in American history. The Cardinal opened the first day of competition with a record-setting performance in the 200-yard medley relay with Ally Howe, Sarah Haase, Janet Hu and Lia Neal (1:34.15). The quartet combined again two days later to set the American record in the 400 medley relay (3:26.15). 

Cardinal rookie Ella Eastin took home three individual titles and contributed to one relay victory. She became the youngest swimmer to go sub-four minutes in the 400 IM (3:58.40), easily setting a NAG record in the process. Despite coming into the championships undefeated, Stanford placed second at the Conference championships with 1344 points, followed up by CALIFORNIA in third with 1306 points. Two weeks later, the Cardinal claimed a runner-up finish at NCAA Championships with 395 points.

The Golden Bears were led by Farida Osman, who claimed two individual Pac-12 titles in record fashion. Her 50 freestyle (21.32) and 100 butterfly (50.53) victories each were Conference records. The perennial powerhouse of Cal finished third at NCAA Championships (358) and marked its eighth-straight season of a top-three finish. California senior Rachael Acker was named the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming & Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

USC captured a sixth-place finish at NCAA championships with 244.5 team points. The Trojans capped NCAA Championships with their first 400 freestyle relay title in 3:09.69 with Kasia Wilk, Kirsten Vose, Chelsea Chenault and Anika Apostalon.

The Cardinal claimed four postseason Conference awards amongst three individuals. On the swimming side, Eastin nabbed Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year honors as well as Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year. Her teammate Gracia Leydon-Mahoney was honored as Pac-12 Diver of the Year, while head coach Greg Meehan was named Pac-12 Co-Coach of the Year alongside USC’s Dave Salo

Leydon-Mahoney capped a remarkable year a national championship on platform (346.15) and two Pac-12 titles on 1-meter springboard and platform. UCLA’s Eloise Belanger was named Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year, and Cardinal diving coach Patrick Jeffrey was named Pac-12 Diving Coach of the Year.

ARIZONA’s Annie Ochitwa broke the 17-18 National Age Group (NAG) in the 100 fly in 51.01. Natalie Coughlin previously held the record at 51.18, which stood for 12 years.

The Pac-12 celebrated its centennial and announced the All-Century Women’s Swimming & Diving Team, a group of 26 swimmers, six divers and one coach. Stanford’s Richard Quick was honored as Coach of the Century, California’s Natalie Coughlin the Swimmer of the Century and Arizona’s Michele Mitchell the Diver of the Century. All 26 All-Century swimmers competed in at least one Olympiad, and collectively, they have won 101 Olympic medals. Jenny Thompson and Natalie Coughlin are the most decorated with 12 Olympic medals each, which ties Dara Torres for most Olympic medals won by an American female. In addition, this group represents 110 NCAA individual titles (95 swimming, 15 diving). 

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