MINNEAPOLIS (CBS / AP) — Olympian Missy Franklin made her mark in her first NCAA Championships on Friday.
The California freshman shattered the 200-yard freestyle record to claim her first NCAA title, and defending champion Georgia, with a full slate of 17 qualifiers, stretched its lead over the field after the second day of the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships.
The Bulldogs led Stanford 369-297, while California, which has won three of the last five team titles, was in third and Texas A&M moved into fourth.
“We feel like we’re in a good place, we hope if we had a decent lead after tonight, we’d certainly be in position to try and swim for a title tomorrow,” Bulldogs associate coach Harvey Humphries said.
Georgia received a surprise push from Laura Ryan. The senior from Elk River, Minn., gave the Bulldogs their first two NCAA diving titles in program history and 40 points, winning the 3-meter title with a score of 423.15 to add to the 1-meter crown she won Thursday.
“Knowing this was home had an overwhelming sense of calm,” Ryan said. “There’s obviously stress knowing we’re trying to win a team title, that’s honestly motivation for me hearing (the swimmers) cheer me on every single dive. It’s been an advantage for me.”
The Cardinal, Bears and Aggies grabbed the top spots in the seven swim events on Friday, but the Bulldogs’ depth proved to be a successful counterweight in a bid for their first back-to-back titles since 2000-2001.
Franklin finished the 200 free in 1 minute, 40.31 seconds to surpass the 1:41.21 Megan Romano swam for Georgia in 2012. Bulldogs’ Olympian Shannon Vreeland finished second in 1:42.26 and Georgia also had Olympian Brittany MacLean in fourth and junior Jordan Mattern in eighth.
Franklin claimed a second title along with U.S. swim team member Elizabeth Pelton as the pair helped California win the final event of the day in the 800 freestyle relay, edging the Bulldogs and the Cardinal. Franklin finished with a team-best 1:40.08 in her 200-yard leg.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with that right now,” Franklin said. “That was an incredible relay to be a part of, there’s no better feeling coming in behind as an anchor . to come back and win that one was really great for our team. I think it definitely lifted some spirits.”
Second-place Stanford continued to stun the star-studded California squad, claiming titles in the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly and 200 medley relay. Senior Maya DiRado took part in her third NCAA title of the championships when she topped Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel in the 400 IM with a time of 3:58.12. DiRado placed second to Beisel in the same event in 2013.
“I’ve been racing Beisel for a while . it’s great to come out on top. It’s nice to get my hand on the wall first,” DiRado said. “We didn’t expect to be here when the meet started, we have to come out strong in the morning (preliminaries) . that’s where the meet will be decided.”
California found that out firsthand Friday when Olympian Rachel Bootsma didn’t have a chance to defend her NCAA title in the 100 backstroke. She failed to qualify for the championship race in preliminaries and finished third in the consolation race.
That helped open the door for Texas A&M, which moved ahead of Southern California with titles in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke.
Aggies senior Breeja Larson broke her own NCAA, U.S. Open and American record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 57.23, besting her previous mark by 0.05. Larson claimed her third NCAA title of her career in the event, helping to lift the Aggies to fourth place after two days.
Texas A&M trails third-place California by 58.5 points heading into the final day.
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