Women's Swim and Dive Sends 7 to Evening Finals in Last Day of 2003 NCAA Championships

March 22, 2003

AUBURN, Ala. - Behind sophomore Emily Mason's second school record in as many days, the University of Arizona women's swimming and diving squad sits in prime position to move up in the standings after Saturday's NCAA Championship preliminaries.

The Wildcats, currently in ninth after two days by totaling 136 points, will swim seven athletes in Saturday evening's finals, including four in the 200y backstroke alone. After moving up five spots on Friday, the 'Cats have an even better opportunity to catch teams in front of them, such as California and Southern Methodist.

Mason, fresh off her school-record performance in the 400y IM on Friday, again showed her exceptional ability in the 200y fly. The Phoenix, Ariz. native obliterated the old school record of 1:56.31 when she finished in 1:55.33, a time that qualified her second in Saturday evening's consolation final.

So far at the 2003 NCAA Championships, the Wildcats have established three new school records, including two by Mason.

The Wildcats opened Saturday's preliminaries with a performance that showed off their exceptional depth. All four Arizona swimmers in the 200y backstroke either qualified for the consolation or championship final to be contested Saturday night. Senior Beth Botsford dictated the pace with an eighth-place mark (1:56.36); following Botsford was sophomore Jessica Hayes who established a new season-best time in touching the wall in 1:57.15, good enough for 11th place. Rounding out the Wildcat quartet was senior Julie Manitt's new personal best time of 1:58.15 in 13th place and freshman Jenna Gresdal who finished 15th (1:58.38).

In the 100y freestyle, freshman Marshi Smith continued her NCAA Championships resurgence with a new personal best mark of 50.46 en route to a 37th place finish.

Later on Saturday morning, junior Jessica Wagner qualified for her second final of the weekend when she placed 14th in the 200y breast, clocking in with a season-best time of 2:14.22. Freshman Erin Sieper followed only four spots behind Wagner in 19th (2:15.16).

The 'Cats finished up the Saturday preliminaries with a 12th place mark in the 400y free relay. Arizona's quartet of Hayes, Smith, Gresdal and fellow freshman Katie Willis bettered their previous season apogee by clocking in at 3:21.13.

The final evening of the 2003 NCAA Championships kicks off at 4:45 pm (CST) with the final heats of the 1650y freestyle. At 7 pm (CST), all other finals to be contested will begin.

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