Feb. 25, 2006
Led by Katie Nelson's impressive win in the 1650 Freestyle on Saturday, the Bruin swim and dive team placed second (1246.5 pts.) at the Pac-10 Championships in Long Beach, CA. Arizona won the meet with 1325.5 points, breaking Stanford's two year win streak.
"Tonight everybody on this team knew what their job was," said Head Coach Cyndi Gallagher. "As a team, we wanted each individual to move up one spot and we did that. We got off to a slow start, but it just shows how much character and heart this team has to keep competing. Tonight was magical. Katie (Nelson) started it off with a win and that was huge. She's been so patient, and all year long we had faith in her and her abilities, and tonight it showed.
"The 200 Back was another huge event for us. Courtney (Iversen) and Madeleine (Stanton) both won their heats, and it's especially pleasing to see Madeleine do so well because she's been battling food poisoning the last few days and she got an NCAA qualifying time with her finish. Then, Katie (Arnold) swan a lifetime-best to finish third and it just brought a great feeling to this team.
"It just snowballed after those events. We started believing in each other and started having fun. I'm so proud of this team and am so excited about what we can do at NCAA's."
Nelson came into the Pac-10 meet with a season-best time of 16:25.72 and just obliterated that in the final of the 1650 Free. Swimming against 2004 Olympian Kalyn Keller of USC, this would be a tough match-up. Keller had defeated Nelson two weeks ago at the USC/UCLA dual meet, but it was all Nelson on Saturday as she took control of the race midway through and never looked back, winning in a season-best and NCAA auto time of 16:18.00. Her time was nearly eight seconds better then Keller (16:25.97), who finished second overall.
"I really didn't think I was going to win," said Nelson. "I was kind of shocked when I realized I was pulling away from her (Kalyn). I figured it was part of her strategy, to hang back and then finish hard, because that is how she swam at the dual meet. I just tried to stay calm and focused on my race and I'm just so incredibly excited. It wasn't a lifetime-best time, but I'm happy with it knowing that in a few weeks I am going to the NCAA Championships."
Arnold, who had finished ninth in the 100 Back on Friday, swam a lifetime-best and NCAA auto time of 1:56.19 to finish third in that event. Freshman Madeleine Stanton, who had been battling food poisoning the last few days, stepped up in a big way, swimming an NCAA "B" time and season-best of 1:58.91 to win the A Consolation. Junior Courtney Iversen also stepped up, swimming a season-best 2:03.23 to win the B Consolation.
In the 200 Breast, junior Jeana Fuccillo finished sixth overall in a time of 2:16.45, while senior Shellene Catalano, swimming in her final Pac-10 Championships as a Bruin, placed 14th with a season-best swim of 2:17.79. Another senior swimming in her last conference meet, Eileen Seissen, also swam a season-best, finishing 20th in a time of 2:17.53.
In the final individual event of the night, senior Kim Vandenberg tied for second with Arizona's Whitney Myers (1:56.77) as Stanford's Dana Kirk again edged out Vandenberg in a time of 1:56.64. Last year, Kirk won the 200 Fly title by .10 seconds. Junior Krista Daley also swam in the Championship Final, finishing seventh with a season-best time of 2:00.47. Sophomore Shannon Hackett, swimming in the B Consolation, also swam a season-best, finishing 20th in a time of 2:03.74.
Up in Federal Way, WA, the divers again added important points to the Bruins' team total as freshman Brittany Hill led the squad with her seventh-place finish on the platform in a season-high score of 239.15. Senior Paige Thompson placed ninth (213.45), freshman Tess Schofield was 10th (213.55) and junior Sara Clark finished 13th (201.00). As a team, the divers scored the second-highest point total of any school in the dive competitiong with 74 team points. USC picked up 124 with Arizona adding 56 towards their team championship total.
The divers will return home for two weeks as they prepare for the NCAA Zone E Championships. From there, those that have qualified will join the swimmers that have made NCAA times at the NCAA Championships in Athens, GA March 16-18.
Final Team Scores
1. Arizona, 1325.5
2. UCLA, 1246.5
3. Stanford, 1227
4. USC, 1162.5
5. California, 1082.5
6. Arizona St., 670.5
7. Oregon St., 483.5
8. Washington, 414
9. Washington St., 399