Carlson 2nd In 50 Free, USC 4th After First Day of NCAAs
March 20, 2014
Senior Kasey Carlson finished a career-best second in the 50y free, junior Haley Ishimatsu made her first final appearance on 1-meter and senior Stina Gardell took fifth in the 200y IM to lead USC to a strong first day at the 2014 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis on Thursday (March 20).
The Trojans scored 103 points Thursday, putting a solid hold on fourth. Defending champion Georgia built a big day one lead with 189 points and is followed in the top 10 by Stanford (136), California (126), USC, Texas A&M (86.5), Tennessee (104), Arizona (68), Florida (57), Minnesota (51.5) and Wisconsin (41).
"It was a good first day. The girls did an excellent job of qualifying in the morning for the finals with the second most ups and downs," USC eighth-year coach Dave Salo said. "Last year we were sitting in seventh after the first night and today we're fourth. Hopefully we build off of today's momentum and keep this going as we go for another top 4 finish."
Carlson, fifth in the 50y free as a freshman and seventh as a junior last year, was a fingertip away from claiming USC's first national title in the race since 1978, her 21.72 just behind Georgia's Olivia Smoliga's 21.59 and just ahead of Arizona's Margo Geer (21.73). Before Carlson's stretch of three 50 `A' finals in the past four years, the Trojans hadn't had one since 1999.
Gardell, making her third straight appearance in the 200y IM final, posted her third top 5 finish in a row by taking fifth in 1:55.11 after qualifying eighth for the final with a 1:56.29.
Sophomore Jasmine Tosky, who finished less than two tenths behind Gardell in prelims and out of the `A' final, won the `B' final in 1:56.37, a season-best swim. Tosky was 19th last year in the race. Senior Meghan Hawthorne scored in the event for the third year in row, taking sixth in the `B' final (14th overall) in 1:57.50.
Ishimatsu, the defending NCAA platform champion who had never scored before on a springboard event at the NCAAs, earned an `A' finals berth in prelims in sixth. She followed that solid effort with another consistent set to finish sixth with 314.65. She became the seventh Trojan to earn All-American honors on the board, joining, among others, her older sister Victoria Ishimatsu, who won the event in 2012 and reached the finals in 2009 and 2010.
USC's 200y free relay, in its second straight `A' finals appearance following a drought that dated to 1999, finished eighth in 1:29.41. In prelims, the quartet of Carlson, who led off with a school-record 21.63 to tie her for 10th-fastest all-time, freshman Kasia Wilk, Stewart and freshman Evan Swenson broke the school record with a 1:27.87 to claim the last `A' berth. The Trojan four in the final was Carlson, Wilk, sophomore Joanna Stenkvist and Swenson.
Freshman Chelsea Chenault, who earned a `B' finals spot in the 500y free with a prelim 4:39.84, took eighth in the evening race in 4:42.56.
The Trojans qualified for the 400y medley relay final in a season-best 3:30.89 with Stewart, Carlson, Tosky and Wilk, sixth overall in the morning. In the final, the foursome of Stenkvist, Carlson, Tosky and Wilk finished seventh in 3:34.21. Virginia was DQ'd in the final, which was USC's fate in the race last year.
Other Trojan finishers from the morning session included senior Lynette Lim in the 500y free (4:47.67, 55th), junior Andrea Kropp in the 200y IM (1:58.50, 37th) and Wilk in the 50y free (22.44, tied for 29th).
The meet continues Friday and Saturday with prelims at 11 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m. PT.
* Links to live streaming for the remaining prelims sessions are below, as are links for ESPN3's live coverage of Friday's and Saturday's finals beginning at 4 p.m. (PT) each day.