Feb. 20, 2004
The team competition really heated up on day three at the Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Indiana and Penn State made major moves in the team standings at tonight's final session. The Hoosiers have taken over first place with 417.5 points, just over 20 points ahead of Penn State (396.5) and Michigan (396). Wisconsin has dropped to fourth place (343), however there is plenty of swimming and diving remaining and for the second time in three years, the meet could come down to the final event.
The fireworks in the pool matched the fireworks of the opening ceremonies in the night's first event, the 400-yard medley relay. Penn State won the event from lane three with the fastest time in the nation thus far this season, 3:36.56. The squad of Sarah Haupt, Kristen Woodring, Amberle Biedermann, and Dee Dlugonski swam well under the NCAA 'A' standard of 3:38.32. Michigan held its top place in the team standings, finishing second in the event in 3:37.96. Wisconsin finished third in 3:40.79.
In the next event, Bethany Pendleton of Wisconsin continued the show with her swim in the 400-yard IM that brought the Aquatic Center crowd to its feet. Her time of 4:08.92 crushed the existing all-time Big Ten record that stood for 11 years by nearly three seconds, out-distancing her nearest competitor by over five seconds. At the half-way mark, Pendleton's time was 1:59.24, an incredible split, and she led the field by more than a body length. Her record setting mark was also the fastest time in the nation this year. Indiana's Kristen Bradley and Brooke Taflinger finished second and third, respectively, and also earned NCAA automatic qualifying times.
The 100-yard butterfly was as tight as expected between Michigan senior Anne Weilbacher and 2003 event champion Amberle Biedermann. The race was tied at the first 25 before Biedermann pulled away over the next two lengths. It looked like Biedermann would make it two years in a row before Weilbacher made a powerful charge on the final lap. Weilbacher's outstanding final 25-yards proved to be enough to propel her to the win in 53.58 to Biedermann's 53.63. Both times were NCAA 'A' cuts.
In the team race, Indiana (319) moved into the lead after the 100-yard butterfly due to several outstanding championship performances. Michigan (290) dropped to second place despite Weilbacher's performance, but remained in front of Wisconsin (282). 2002 champion Penn State moved into contention after the first three events with 272 points.
The 200-yard freestyle race between co-Big Ten meet record holders Amy McCullough and Carly Piper didn't disappoint, as the two were separated by just .08 seconds in the final standings. However, it was Michigan freshman Lindsey Smith who stole the show from the two veterans. Smith poured it on in the final lap of the race, winning in 1:46.32, just ahead of McCoullough (1:46.33) and Piper (1:46.41). More importantly, Michigan scored 52 points in the event, closing the gap between the Wolverines and Indiana to just 17 points.
Kristen Woodring's return to swimming proved to be valuable for Penn State fans, as the 2001 and 2002 event champion reclaimed her title tonight, winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:00.35. Her time was the fourth fastest ever in Big Ten history, and will send her to the national championships in March. Also making the trip to NCAAs will be Michigan's Kelli Stein (1:01.22) and Wisconsin's Amalia Sarnecki (1:01.55).
Sarah Haupt made it back-to-back wins for Penn State in the next event, claiming the 100-yard backstroke in 54.01, off the Big Ten meet record she set last year. Haupt was out in a blazing 26 seconds flat for the first 50-yards and held-off Wisconsin's Susan Johnson (54.14) in the final 25-yards for the win. Indiana freshman Leila Viziri rounded out the top-three with her time of 54.24.
Heading into the diving competition, Indiana led the team race with 401.5 points to Michigan's 379.
In the final event of the evening Carrie McCambridge won her second title of the championship, winning the three-meter event with 544.35 points. OSU freshman Julie Broms placed second with 530.65 points, just ahead of Alison Riccobono of Penn State. Tomorrow, the divers will take to the platform tower.
Preliminaries begin Saturday morning at 11 a.m. CT with the 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard free, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard butterfly, 1,650-yard free, and platform diving.