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Larson wins as Aggies climb to No. 5 at NCAAs

March 22, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

INDIANAPOLIS --- Texas A&M junior Breeja Larson successfully defended her national title in the 100-yard breaststroke as the Aggies vaulted to fifth in the team standings on Friday at the 2013 NCAA Swimming & Diving.

Larson, from Mesa, Ariz., became the first two-time NCAA Champion in program history after she broke away from her pursuers in the final 50 yards to touch first in a time of 57.63. In the process, she broke her own NCAA meet record of 57.71 set at last year’s Championships in Auburn, Ala. Larson and runner-up Kasey Carlson of USC were tied after the first 50 yards at 27.17, but Larson’s back-half of 30.46 gave her the victory. No other swimmer had a sub-31 second final 50 in the Championship final.

“Defending your title is always awesome, and so to win the 100 breast was super,” Aggie head coach Steve Bultman said. “I talked to her about swimming her race. I told her that her second 50 is better than anybody else’s, so swim your own race and just kind of remember that.”

Larson’s win highlighted a huge day for Bultman’s Aggies, who moved from eighth place to fifth in the team standings with 216 total points. Georgia led the way with 300 points after day two, and were trailed by California (285), Tennessee (263.5), Arizona (246), Texas A&M, USC (194), Stanford (189.5), Florida (189), Texas (115) and Minnesota (99) to round out the top 10.

Bultman called the day’s performance the “best second day we’ve ever had” as the Aggies churned out eight Championship finalists on Friday.

“We left some points on the board yesterday but I’m so proud of the girls and the way they bounced back today,” Bultman said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had eight top eight finishers on our second day, in fact, I’m not sure we’ve had that many ever. I was just really pleased with the way they turned it around from day one to day two.”

The Aggies started off the evening session with a fifth place finish in the 200-yard medley relay as the foursome of senior Tess Simpson, Larson, junior Paige Miller and junior Erica Dittmer touched the wall in a time of 1:36.08.

A&M continued to pile up the points with a pair of top six finishes in the 400 IM as junior Cammile Adams powered to fourth place in 4:03.74 and sophomore teammate Sarah Henry was right behind in sixth place with a time of 4:04.75.

Miller returned to the water to finish sixth in the consolation final (14th overall) in the 100 butterfly. Sophomore Liliana Ibanez scored in an individual event at NCAAs for the first time with a sixth place finish in the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:44.64.

Miller hit the water for a third time on Friday in the 100 backstroke and turned in a sixth place finish in 51.93. Also scoring in an individual race at NCAAs for the first time was Simpson, who placed eighth in 52.60.

The Aggies closed out the day with a fifth-place finish in the 800 free relay with the foursome of Ibanez, senior Maureen McLaine, sophomore Kelli Benjamin and Henry touching in 7:02.03.

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