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Larson, Miller win back-to-back NCAA titles

March 21, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
MINNEAPOLIS --- Texas A&M seniors Breeja Larson and Paige Miller won back-to-back national titles to highlight the Aggies’ day two action at the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships on Friday at the University of Minnesota.

The Aggies’ big day pushed Texas A&M to fourth in the team standings, and the Aggies are one of only four teams with more than 200 points after two days of swimming and diving. The Aggies have scored 226.5 points and trail only Georgia (369 points), Stanford (297) and California (285). The Aggies’ 226.5 points are already the fifth-most the team has ever scored at the national meet.

For Larson (Mesa, Ariz.), it was her third straight NCAA title in the 100 breaststroke, which had only been done once previously in NCAA history (by Stanford’s Tara Kirk from 2001-03). The only Aggie swimmer with multiple NCAA titles to her credit, Larson grabbed the win in a time of 57.23, which broke her own school, Southeastern Conference, NCAA, U.S. Open and American record in the race.

“I actually hoped to go faster,” Larson said. “My goal is to get 56 (seconds). It might take me another year, but that what I have my sights set on.”

Added head coach Steve Bultman, “This is the third time she’s won it, but it’s the first time she’s ever done it when she wasn’t seeded first going into the final. She was third, but she stepped up and took care of it. That was pretty neat to see her rise to the challenge, and not only win but also break all the records.”

Miller (Caledon, Ontario, Canada) won her first-ever NCAA title after finishing in the top eight the past three seasons. A four-time conference champion in the 100 back (two Big 12, two SEC), Miller’s previous high finish in the 100 back at NCAAs was sixth last year. She won with a time of 50.77, which is just off her lifetime best of 50.70 (leadoff leg of 400 medley relay) from Thursday.

“That was awesome,” Bultman said. “She’s made the finals all four years, but for whatever reason she hadn’t been able to ‘break through’ until tonight. She continued to improve, break school records and she was able to get it done tonight. There were some pretty good backstrokers here, but as far as consistency – prelims, finals and relays – she’s been the fastest one. She deserved the win and it was pretty exciting to see her do it.”

The final day of the NCAA Championships gets started with the swimming prelims at 11 a.m. on Saturday while the finals begin at 7 p.m. Live results are available at GopherSports.com and live streaming video for every swimming session will be available at GopherSports.com or WatchESPN.com.

In other action …

200 medley relay crushes school standard, takes fourth

The Texas A&M foursome of junior Kelli Benjamin, Larson, Miller and senior Erica Dittmer crushed the school standard in the 200-yard medley relay on the way to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. It was the Aggies’ second-highest finish ever in the 200 medley behind the bronze medal finish by the 2008 Aggies. The 2014 Aggies touched the wall in a time of 1:35.59, which broke the old school record of 1:35.71 set at the 2012 NCAA Championships by Tess Simpson, Larson, Miller and Dittmer.

Big points for Henry, Adams in 400 IM

Combining to score 29 points for the Aggies were junior Sarah Henry and senior Cammile Adams in the 400 IM. Henry used a lifetime best time of 4:02.88 to grab fourth, while Adams was right behind in fifth with a time of 4:03.16.

Ibanez moves up

Junior Liliana Ibanez had a strong effort in the 200 freestyle as she touched the wall in sixth place in a time of 1:43.90. Ibanez moved up from her seeding after prelims where she was tied for seventh.

800 free relay takes seventh in 7:02.66

The Aggies closed out the evening session with a seventh-place finish with the foursome of Ibanez, sophomore Meredith Oliver, Benjamin and Henry touching in 7:02.66.

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2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Order of Events

 

TRIALS – SATURDAY, MARCH 22 (11 a.m.)

16. 200-yard Backstroke

17. 100-yard Freestyle

18. 200-yard Breaststroke

19. 200-yard Butterfly

20-minute intermission

21. 400-yard Freestyle Relay

20. Platform Diving—Trials*

15. 1,650-yard Freestyle—All but last heat of time finals

FINALS – SATURDAY, MARCH 22 (7 p.m.)

15. 1,650-yard Freestyle—Last heat of time finals

16. 200-yard Backstroke

17. 100-yard Freestyle

18. 200-yard Breaststroke

19. 200-yard Butterfly

20. Platform Diving—Finals*

21. 400-yard Freestyle Relay

 

[Note 1: A consolation final immediately shall precede the championship final for each event except the 1,650-yard freestyle and diving events. Eight lanes will be used in all swimming events.]

[Note 2: The 1,650-yard freestyle event will begin at approximately 4:45 p.m., with the last heat of the preliminaries to end at approximately 6 p.m.]

[Note 4: Awards ceremonies will be held immediately after the championship final of that given event.]

[*Note 5: For a detailed schedule of diving, refer to Rule 6-2-2.]

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