Cal Wins First NCAA Women's Swimming Championship
March 23, 2009
Courtesey of Cal Media Relations
COLLEGE STATION, TX - The California women's swimming team celebrated its first-ever NCAA Championship in school history on Saturday night after an historical and magical three-day display of record setting individual and relay performances at the at the Student Rec Center Natatorium hosted by Texas A&M. The Golden Bears finished with 411.5 points - also the most in school history, ahead of second place finisher Georgia with 400.5 points.
Dana Vollmer was named the 2009 NCAA Swimmer of the Year and Teri McKeever was named 2009 NCAA Coach of the Year. The victory made McKeever the first woman to be credited with an NCAA swimming and diving team title.
Cal's highest finish prior to the 2009 NCAA Championship was a third place showing in 2007. Cal is the fourth Pac-10 school to claim an NCAA title (Stanford, USC and Arizona).
In all, Cal claimed three individual NCAA titles (200 free, 100 free and 100 fly) and two NCAA relay titles (800 free and 400 free).
'Words can't describe what this means,' said McKeever. 'Everyone did an amazing job out there tonight. I told the girls [right before the 400 free relay] just go out there and have fun. This championship is for everyone that has ever been a part of California swimming. This was a total team effort - to the girls back home, Kristen [Lewis-Cunnane], Tom [Davidson], Nick [Folker], Dave [Walden] and John [Dorr] - everyone involved made this possible.'
The stage was set and the electricity was high heading into Event No. 21 - the 400-yard free relay. Cal's quartet of Tara Thomas, Erica Dagg, Madison Kennedy and Vollmer secured a spot in the Championship final of the relay with a preliminary time of 3:14.70 earlier in the morning. That time was completely shattered as head coach Teri McKeever altered her foursome with Hannah Wilson anchoring, followed by Liv Jensen, Dagg and Vollmer. With the Bears clinging to a one-point lead after 20 events, the new quartet sizzled to a new school, NCAA, NCAA Championship meet, American and U.S. Open record time of 3:09.88.
Cal also claimed an NCAA title in the 400 free relay in 2007 (3:12.13). At the 2009 Pac-10 Championships in February, Cal's foursome of Vollmer, Dagg, Kennedy and Wilson sprinted to a then NCAA, Pac-10 and school record time of 3:11.05 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, eclipsing the previous NCAA record time of 3:11.34 set by Arizona last season. The previous school record in the 400 free relay was 3:12.13 set in 2007.
After securing the top spot in the 100-yard freestyle morning preliminaries with a time of 47.24, Vollmer returned with even more firepower in the Championship final with a resounding personal-best time of 47.17 to claim her second individual NCAA freestyle title this week. On Friday night, Vollmer won the NCAA title in the 200-yard freestyle.
This was Vollmer's third individual NCAA title in three years at Cal (100-yard butterfly in 2007). It was also the first 100 free NCAA title by a Cal women's swimmer in school history. Vollmer's 200 free NCAA title on Friday night was the first by a Golden Bear since Conny van Bentum in 1986.
Wilson also garnered a spot in the Championship final after securing a personal-best time of 47.85 in the prelims with a sixth place finish time of 47.98 to earn All-America honors.
The freshman sensation Jensen, earned a 13th-place finish in the consolation final of the 100 free with a time of 48.59 for honorable mention All-America honors. Jensen swam a personal-best time of 48.26 in the morning prelims. Kennedy also garnered honorable mention All-America honors after a 15th-place finish with a time of 48.82.
The competition got real dramatic after the 200-yard butterfly when Amanda Sims earned a fourth place finish with a time of 1:53.60 - good enough for 14.5 points. And thanks to Sara Isakovic's ninth place finish and nine additional points from the consolation final (a personal-best time of 1:54.61), Cal vaulted to a first place standing with 371.5 points, a full point better than second-place Georgia (370.5) after 19 events. Arizona wasn't too far behind in third place with 363 points.
Sims secured a spot in the Championship final with her morning preliminary and new personal-best time of 1:53.54.
Lauren Boyle (16:17.03) and Blake Hayter (16:21.19) finished 26th and 30th respectively in the 1650-yard freestyle in the first event of the evening.