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A&M's Larson, Patrick Strike NCAA Gold

March 16, 2012
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)


AUBURN, Ala. --- It was a gold rush for the Texas A&M women's swimming and diving team on day two of the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships as Aggies Breeja Larson and Jaele Patrick both won national titles on Friday. 

Larson (Mesa, Ariz.) won her NCAA crown in the 100-yard breaststroke in an NCAA, American and U.S. Open record-breaking time of 57.71, and Patrick (Lilydale, Victoria, Australia) overpowered the field in the three-meter dive with a score of 410.15. Patrick’s win marked Texas A&M’s first-ever NCAA Championship in diving, while Larson’s victory was the third swimming national title in program history.

“(Coach) Steve (Bultman) always tells me to go easy, not easy meaning slow but good, fast speed,” Larson said. “So I always try to make the first 50 easy speed and the second 50 bring it home. That was my race strategy tonight and it worked for me.”

With Larson’s victory came the first American and U.S. Open record in program history. Larson’s 57.71 broke the old record of 57.77 set by former U.S. Olympian Tara Kirk.  

“I’ve had 57.75 written down on my notebooks, on my hand, on the mirror in my bathroom,” Larson said. “I’ve written it everywhere. I’ve thought about it, dreamed about it, and beating it – that was beyond me. I think the best moment for me was looking over at Steve and seeing his triumphant fist pump. It was amazing.”

While not a record-setter, Patrick’s victory was impressive as she outclassed the field by over 20 points.

“I knew I had to put together six strong dives because it was a very strong field,” Patrick said. “I got nervous when I had one dive left, and the last dive is the biggest step of them all. But I managed to come through with a good dive, and I was really happy with the way I dove. It was two points from my PB (personal best), so I was pretty happy with how I did.”

It was A&M’s first-ever NCAA Championship in diving after runner-up finishes by Patrick on Thursday  in the one-meter and Meghan Zack in the platform in 2002.

“I actually had no idea that I had a chance to be the first one until my interview yesterday (after her runner-up finish in the one-meter dive),” Patrick said. “It’s a great feeling to be the first to do my school proud by becoming the first diver to win a NCAA title for Texas A&M. It’s incredible and it makes you feel real good.”

The Aggies opened the meet by taking fifth in the 200 medley relay. The sophomore foursome of Paige Miller, Larson, Caroline McElhany and Erica Dittmer touched the wall in 1:36.30 in the final after setting the school record with a 1:35.71 in prelim session.

Sophomore Cammile Adams flirted with the Aggies’ school record in the 400 IM but came up just shy of the record with a time 4:05.41 while finishing seventh.

In the 100 butterfly, McElhany contributed a 13th place finish in 52.53 after moving to No. 2 on A&M’s top 10 list in the prelims with a time of 52.49.

Miller broke her own school record in the morning session with a time of 51.78 in the 100 back and then placed seventh in the Championship final in 52.30.

After two days of competition at Auburn University, the Aggies are in seventh place in the team standings with 185 points.

2012 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships- Day 2 Finals
Friday, March 16, 2012
James E. Martin Aquatics Center - Auburn, Ala.


100 Yard Breaststroke – Breeja Larson, Texas A&M

On the goal time she had in mind…
“I was really nervous. I talked to a lot of other girls that were head to head with me. They helped me through it a lot. Rebecca (Ejdervik) from ASU told me to relax and said this was for fun and to go out there and do my thing. My coach Steve Bultman said the same thing as did my parents and boyfriend. Everyone was such a big help in getting me to relax and get through this. It was a crazy ordeal, but it was a lot of fun. I went out there and tried to be relaxed and I felt very blessed that I hit all my walls right.”

On where she wanted to be at the 50…
“I just go for the feel of it. Steve always tells me to swim easy, not meaning slow, but as in a good, fast speed. I just try to make the first 50 an easy speed and the second 50 bring it home. I tried the strategy tonight and it worked really well for me.”

On how far she has come in the past three years with a health scare to now being an American record holder…
“Steve and my first coach Brad Hering didn’t limit me. I just have the heart of a lion and push through. I’m humble and hungry. It’s so helpful to have people not limit you, to know that just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Even the men’s team has been supportive. The health scare really opened my eyes to swimming and it’s such a wonderful experience and you get to meet so many incredible athletes. This year we had such amazing swims from so many people, and it’s just crazy to think that so many awesome athletes come here to one spot and compete. They’re so nice.”

On her coach turning swimmers into national champions…
“Steve’s wonderful. He’s very patient with me. He reminds me again and again at practice and never tells me that I’m doing something bad. He always encourages me to do better. I feel like he did take a big chance with me. I didn’t have a lot of experience and I came in with a time of 1:02, the same as five or six other freshmen coming in. He had a lot of faith and it really showed a lot to me that he gave me this chance. I don’t think I’d be able to go this well with any other coach. He’s an amazing breaststroke coach. He got me through so many different practices and kept pushing me and gave me stuff they didn’t think I’d be able to do, but I kept going. He’s very encouraging, and I wouldn’t be able to do this without him.”

On how she is going to transition her focus to long course to get an American record…
“With Steve’s help. Steve’s my crutch right now. I listen to him, do what he says and even if I feel that I should do something different, I say no just go with what Steve says, and he’s always right. I have complete faith in his coaching and I’m really excited to see what long course can do. I haven’t had too much experience with tapering with long course and there are a lot of really fast competitors coming up in the 100 breaststroke and I hope that with his training and a good taper I’ll be able to make it.

On what getting an American record means to her…
“It’s incredible. I’ve had 57.75 written down on my notebooks, on my hand, on my mirror bathroom. I’ve thought about it, dreamt about it, and beating it, that was beyond me. I was very happy and I think the best moment was looking over at Steve and having his fist pumping. It was amazing. I hope that I’ll be able to keep my nerves in check when we go in. I love fair sportsmanship, and I really hope that I’ll be able to keep that with other athletes going to trials. I think it’s so much fun to make good friends with other girls that are swimming in my same event. It keeps things clear and calm, and I’m really excited to meet all the girls.”

3-Meter Diving – Jaele Patrick, Texas A&M

On her list and leading the entire competition…
“I knew I had to put down six dives because it’s a very strong crowd. I managed to hit my first dive, which I was really happy about. Then I moved into full layout which wasn’t as good, which is usually my strong dive, but it was nowhere near what I wanted it to be, but I came through with the reverse where I got a (9.0) in there and a 9.5 I think. That was definitely the confidence boost I needed after I dropped my second dive. I got nervous because I had one dive left. The last dive is the biggest step of them all, but I managed to come through with a good dive, and I was really happy with how I dove. It was close to a (personal best). It was two points from my PB, so I was pretty happy with how I did.”
On scoring a 410…
“It feels incredible. I think last time, my PB is 412, so that’s just, it blows me out of the water that I managed to put down my best dives on the hardest day of competition.”
On her journey throughout her diving career…
“It’s definitely been a journey, that’s for sure. The transition was a hard one from Australia, but I managed to make it, and I found my feet in America. Then getting third on both boards, that gave me a bit of a confidence boost. That was a changing, a turn for me. Then I had my injury last year with my back, and that was hard to deal with because being out watching everyone go to nationals and me just having to sit out the rest, it was rough. I’ve managed to come back, and I’m still battling the injury, but we’re managing and getting me through, and it’s been good.”
On being the first Texas A&M diver to win an NCAA Championship…
“I actually had no idea that I was the first one until my interview yesterday, and the best we’ve had is second. I wanted it. I wanted it so bad to get first yesterday, but sometimes things don’t go your way, and today they just managed to be in my favor so I was pretty happy that I managed to be the first to do my school proud. Well everyone does their school proud, but to come through with the first and to be the first diver to ever do that for A&M is just incredible. It makes you feel real good when you’re doing a bit to the school.”

200 Yard Medley Relay: 1. California (1:34.24), 2. Arizona (1:35.71), 3. Tennessee (1:35.91), 4. Auburn (1:36.15), 5. Texas A&M (1:36.20), 6. Stanford (1:36.82), 7. Wisconsin (1:37.83), 8. Southern California (1:37.96),  9.Texas (1:37.70), 10. Georgia (1:37.73), 11. Arizona State (1:37.99), 12. Southern Methodist (1:38.27), 13. Penn State (1:38.43),  13. Minnesota (1:38.43), 15. Ohio State (1:38.53) 16. UCLA (1:39.50) (California sets new US Open, NCAA, American, and Auburn pool record)

400 yard Individual Medley: 1. Katinka Hosszu, Southern California (3:56.54), 2. Caitlin Leverenz, California (3:57.89), 3. Elizabeth Beisel, Florida (3:59.37), 4. Madeline DiRado, Stanford (3:59.88),  5. Allysa Vavra, Indiana (4:01.73), 6. Teresa Crippen, Florida (4:04.83), 7. Cammile Adams, Texas A&M (4:05.41) 8. Jana Mangimelli, Georgia (4:05.76), 9. Stina Gardell, Southern California (4:05.47), 10. Melanie Margalis, Georgia (4:05.89), 11. Shelley Harper, California (4:07.49), 12. Meghan Hawthorne, Southern California (4:07.55), 13. Amber McDermott, Georgia (4:07.89), 14. Tanya Krisman, Southern California (4:09.24), 15. Carolyn Blalock, North Carolina (4:09.73), 16. Jennie Smith, Florida (4:13.59), (Katinka Hosszu from Southern California sets a new NCAA, US Open, and Auburn pool record. Caitlin Leverenz from California sets a new American record.)

100 Yard Butterfly: 1. Sara Isakovic, California (51.49), 2. Olivia Scott, Auburn (51.61), 3. Kelsey Floyd, Tennessee (51.67), 4. Jennifer Connolly, Tennessee (51.73) 5. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Auburn (51.79), 6. Alexandra Forrester, Yale (51.93), 7. Heather Savage, Virginia Tech (52.16), 8. Caroline Kuczynski, Arizona State (52.52), 9. Cindy Tran, California (51.62), 10. Samantha Woodward, Stanford (52.07), 11. Kristel Vourna, Alabama (52.31), 12. Felicia Lee, Stanford (52.37), 13. Caroline McElhany, Texas A&M (52.53), 14. Katelyne Herrington, UNLV (52.60), 15. Jasmin Jahanshahi, UCLA (52.71), 16.Caitlin Dauw, Michigan (52.96)

200 Yard Freestyle: 1. Megan Romano, Georgia (1:41.21), 2. Karlee Bispo, Texas (1:42.78), 3. Liv Jensen, California (1:43.45), 4. Alyssa Anderson, Arizona (1:43.52), 5. Shannon Vreeland, Georgia (1:43.76), 6. Lindsay Gendron, Tennessee (1:43.89), 7. Shannon Landgrebe, Arizona State (1:44.62), 8. Andrea Murez, Stanford (1:44.67), 9. Shara Stafford, Missouri (1:43.62), 10. Jamie Bohunicky, Florida (1:44.79), 11. Margaux Farrell, Indiana (1:44.90), 12. Jordan Mattern, Georgia (1:45.29), 14. Caroline Piehl, California (1:45:41),  14. Catherine Breed, California (1:45.45), 15. Nina Rangelova, Southern Methodist (1:45.77), 16. Sara Isakovic, California (1:46.21) (Megan Romano sets a new NCAA, American, US Open, and Auburn Pool record)

100 Yard Breaststroke: 1. Breeja Larson, Texas A&M (57.71), 2. Ashley Danner, George Mason (59.02), 3. Rebecca Ejdervik (59.18), 4. Laura Sogar, Texas (59.34), 5. Catherine Meili (59.74), 6. Michelle McKeehan, Georgia (59.79), 7. Ashley Wanland, Wisconsin (59.87), 8. Jennifer Wilson, Northwestern (1:00.81), 9. Laura Lindsay, Toledo (59.61), 10. Kasey Carlson, Southern California (59.79), 11. Emma Reaney, Notre Dame (59.81), 12. Emily Fogle, Purdue (59.85), 13. Abigail Duncan, Auburn (59.99), 14. Hilda Luthersdottir, Florida (1:00.05), 15. Merritt Krawczyk, Penn State (1:00.24)  16. Gisselle Kohoyda, Louisville (1:00.45) (Breeja Larson sets a new NCAA, American, US Open, and Auburn Pool Record)

100 Yard Backstroke: 1. Cindy Tran, California (50.31), 2. Megan Roman Georgia  (51.37), 3. Jennifer Connoly, Tennessee  (51.58), 4. Sarah Denninghoff (51.62), 5. Elizabeth Webb, Stanford (51.69), 6. Therese Svendsen, Southern Methodist (52.16), 7. Paige Miller, Texas A&M  (52.30), 8. Kristen Shickora, Georgia (52.51), 9. Kelsey Conci, Wyoming (52.13), 10. Lauren Smart, Arizona (52.26), 11. Dominique Bouchard, Missouri (52.53), 12. Melanie Klaren, California (52.77), 13. Stephanie Au, California (52.83), 14. Charlotte Clarke, Virginia (52.96), 15. Felicia Lee, Stanford (52.99), 16. Lauren Hines, Richmond (53.20) (Cindy Tran from California sets a new Auburn Pool Record)

Three-Meter Diving: 1. Jaele Patrick, Texas A&M (410.15), 2. Bianca Alvarez, Ohio State (386.30), 3. Samantha Pickens, Arizona (379.75), 4. Vennie Dantin, Auburn (379.55), 5. Courtney Forcucci, South Carolina (368.50), 6. Elina Eggers, Arizona State (344.55), 7. Victoria Ishimatsu, Southern California (342.75), 8. Laura Ryan, Indiana (330.40), 9. Thea Vock, Miami (Fla.) (342.60), 10. Jody McGroarty, Tennessee (334.55), 11. Amanda Lohman, Michigan (324.80), 12. Margaret Keefer, Minnesota (321.40), 13. Kara McCormack, Miami (Fla.) (317.60), 14. Danielle Cecco, Connecticut (308.60), 15. Alexandra Bettridge, LSU (308.00), 16. Logan Kline, Virginia Tech (306.20)

800 Yard Freestyle Relay: 1. Georgia (6:55.96), 2. California (6:57.50), 3. Arizona (6:58.36), 4. Southern California (6:59.12), 5. Minnesota (7:00.65), 6. Florida (7:00.84), 7. Stanford (7:01.27), 8. Texas (7:02.22), 9. Virginia (7:03.68), 10. Tennessee (7:04.60), 11. Indiana (7:04.95), 12. Auburn (7:06.09), 13. Arizona State (7:07.93), 14. North Carolina (7:08.41), 15. Wisconsin (7:08. 79), 16. West Virginia (7:13.09)
Top-10 Team Rankings through Day 2
1.      California                                             311
2.      Georgia                                                247
3.      Southern California                         226
3.    Arizona                                                 226
5.    Stanford                                               222
6.    Tennessee                                          186
7.    Texas A&M                                         185
8.    Auburn                                                 184
9.    Texas                                                     146
10.  Arizona State                                     99

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