Women's Swimming & Diving
    Hosszu Leads Strong Prelim Effort To Open NCAAs

    Sophomore Meghan Hawthorne qualified for her first NCAA final by taking eighth in prelims in today's 200y IM.

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    Led by seniors Katinka Hosszu and Victoria Ishimatsu, five Trojan swimmers and divers and one relay earned finals berth while two other swimmers and another relay claimed consolation spots on a strong first day of prelims at the 2012 NCAA Championships on Thursday (March 15) at Auburn's James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala.

    "We had a great first morning," USC sixth-year head coach Dave Salo said. "The girls did a great job and we just need to keep it up tonight."

    Hosszu, the defending NCAA champion in the 200y IM, led a trio of Trojans into the 200y IM final when she clocked a 1:53.43 for the second-fastest time in the morning. Sophomores Stina Gardell (1:55.66) and Meghan Hawthorne (1:55.93), swimming along with Hosszu in the last heat, each registered PRs to nab the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively, in tonight's final. Gardell won the consolation final last year in the race while Hawthorne was 39th.

    Senior Tanya Krisman, who previously had not finished inside the top 40 the past two years in the NCAA 200y IM, earned a spot in the consolation final by nabbing the 16th spot in prelims in 1:57.84. Junior Jessica Schmitt just missed joining her. Schmitt lowered her PR in the event (set at last year's NCAAs) with a 1:57.87 out of the fourth of eight heats. She tied for 17th overall.

    Junior Haley Anderson earned her second berth into an NCAA 500y free final by finishing sixth in prelims in 4:37.23, less than a second off her PR. The top seed in the 1650y free on Saturday, Anderson used her closing speed to race from fourth to second over the final 200 yards to secure the championship final spot. She was sixth in the race at last year's NCAAs.

    Senior co-captain Amanda Smith earned her first NCAA Championships second swim as a Trojan by going a season-best 4:40.66 out of the fourth of eight heats in the 500y free. Her time, which dropped exactly five seconds from her seventh-place Pac-12 finals swim, was good enough for a tie for 14th in prelims. Smith was 27th last year in the race. Sophomore Lynette Lim posted a PR in the 500y free in 4:44.53, leading her heat the entire race. She finished 32nd overall.

    Ishimatsu, an All-American on 1-meter as a freshman and sophomore, clinched another such honor as a senior by qualifying first in prelims of the event with 331.55. She finished fifth in both of her previous two final appearances in the event.

    Sophomore Kasey Carlson just missed a second-swim in the 50y free, finishing 17th in 22.39 (16th was 22.38). Junior Christel Simms tied for 47th in 22.81.

    The Trojans' earned their fifth consecutive NCAA final appearance in the 400y medley relay when the quartet of Simms, Carlson, junior Yumi So and Hosszu posted a season-best 3:31.34, good for the fifth-best time in prelims.

    USC's 200y free relay of Carlson, Simms, junior Lindsay Parrish and Smith earned a second swim in tonight's final with a season-best 1:29.71, finishing 13th in prelims.

    The finals begin at 5 p.m. PT.

    Click here for the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving home page.
    Host school Auburn is streaming live coverage of all three days of prelims and Thursday's final while WatchESPN.com will stream Friday and Saturday finals.
    Click here for Thursday finals.
    Click here for Friday prelims.
    Click here for Friday finals.
    Click here for Saturday prelims.
    Click here for Saturday finals.
    There will also be a taped delay broadcast on ESPNU on March 21 at 4 p.m. PT.