Athens, Ga. ?- The No. 4 Arizona women’s swimming and diving team completed the first day of the 2006 NCAA Championships in first place with 161 points after tallying two national relay titles and one individual champion.
The 200 free relay team of sophomore Courtney Cashion, senior Jenna Gresdal, freshman Anna Turner and sophomore Lacey Nymeyer became the first team ever to break 1 minute 28 seconds, winning the first national relay title for Arizona since 2002. The Wildcats posted a new U.S. Open, NCAA, pool and school record with a time of 1:27.98.
“I don’t think we could have started the meet any better,” Cashion said. “I expected that we would swim pretty well and then Lacey came out and swam a really fast leg, it feels amazing to win.”
“You could feel the energy throughout the entire stadium,” Nymeyer said. “The energy made it almost impossible to swim slow. Swimming anchor was great because my team set it up and all I had to do was put my hand on the wall, it’s a great feeling to win.”
“The first relay really set the pace for the whole night,” said junior captain Whitney Myers. “Lacey swam awesome, and Anna Turner really stepped it up as a freshman. I am so proud of my whole team.”
Myers was later crowned the 200 individual medley champion after crushing the Gabrielsen Natatorium pool and Arizona school records with a time of 1:24.88.
“I felt awesome during this race,” Myers said. “During prelims I thought about my swim too much and I over-analyzed everything. Tonight I didn’t want to do that, I just wanted to go...to just race, and that’s exactly what I did. Coach (Frank Busch) told me to really go after it in the breaststroke because that is my weakest stroke. I just poured my heart and soul into it. It’s amazing and a dream come true.”
Winning the third event for Arizona was the 400 medley relay team of Gresdal, senior Erin Sieper, Myers and Nymeyer, who set a new pool and school record with a time of 3:31.70.
“It felt really good swimming this relay,” Myers said. “Swimming it can be really hard if you have to come from behind, but it was never like that, this was a ?'come and get me’ kind of race.”
Four women qualified for the finals of the 50 freestyle as sophomore Lacey Nymeyer finished second, improving her school record-breaking performance from this afternoon’s prelims with a time of 22.10. Cashion finished fourth in the event with a time of 22.22 and Gresdal finished seventh with a time of 22.54 as freshman Anna Turner finished 13th overall with a time of 22.88.
“I didn’t know how I was going to swim this race because I concentrate on the 100 and 200 freestyle more,” Nymeyer said. “But, this morning I swam my career best time (and an Arizona school record) so that really took the pressure off for tonight. Overall I have surpassed my goals for the year.”
In the diving well, senior Tiffany Manning finished sixth in the championship finals of the 1-meter with 293 points. Manning’s score is also a new Arizona Championship (six dive) record.
“Wow, what a night,” head swimming coach Frank Busch said. “We had an NCAA record and pool records, this is just more than you can ask for. Whitney swam great and all of the 50 freestylers were awesome. Tiffany finished in the top six, and that is great for us. Winning the two relays was like the cherry on top of it all. This is going to be a three-team horse race for the next few days. But we have two rounds down and four to go, hopefully we can keep this up.”
Day two of the NCAA Championships will begin tomorrow at 11 a.m. (EST) with preliminary action and finals will start at 7 p.m.
Team Scores After Event 6