INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - After mounting a furious comeback in which they moved from 37.5 points down, to only 14 during the final session today at the IUPUI Natatorium, Arizona's bid for its first-ever national championship fell short as they finished second at the 2000 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Arizona (472 points) matched the best finish in school history as they had also finished second in 1998. Georgia won its second-straight team title with 490.5 points. Stanford (397), California (311.5) and Auburn (207) round out the top five.
A large part of the comeback came in the second event of the day - the 200-meter backstroke. Freshman Beth Botsford swam to a first-place finish earning 20 points for the Cats, as she won the race with an American and U.S. Open record time of 2:06.70. Botsford bettered her own American record that was set in December and just missed the world record of 2:06.09. Senior Denali Knapp gave Arizona another added boost in the championship final as she finished fourth, in a time of 2:08.99. Knapp, who concluded her Arizona career today, upped her All-America total to 23 this weekend, making her one of the most accomplished swimmers, male or female, in school history.
The opening event of the final day saw senior Trina Jackson finish second in the 1,500-meter freestyle (16:14.50), while teammate sophomore Katie Zimbone was 17th (16:58.01).
Event No. 17, the 100m freestyle, saw one Wildcat advance to the championship final and two to the consolation final. Sophomore Sarah Tolar picked up points with her sixth-place swim (55.13), while sophomore Emily Mastin finished 12th (55.44) and sophomore Jenny Vanker was 13th (55.64).
In the 200m breaststroke freshman Amanda Beard finished second in a career-best time of 2:22.84.
In event 19, the 200m butterfly, sophomore Erin Vogt, picked up valuable points by finishing sixth (2:11.79). Jackson finished off her illustrious Arizona career by notching the 16th First-Team All-America nod of her career, placing eighth, in a time of 2:15.23. Jackson's finishes today also allowed her to conclude her college career having finished in the top-eight of every NCAA championship race that she entered during her four years as a Wildcat.
Next, the swimmers took a break for event No. 20 - 10-Meter Platform diving. Junior Lindsay Berryman turned in an impressive performance by placing sixth overall (456.50 points), while junior Adrian David finished eighth (404.50). Today's 10-Meter competition marked the first time that Arizona had ever had two finalists in any of the three diving events.
In the final event of the meet, the 400m free relay, Arizona was hoping that history would repeat itself. At last year's championships the Wildcat relay squad qualified sixth in the morning preliminary session, but swam to the national title in the evening finals session. This year UA fell just short, as the team of Vanker, Tolar, Knapp and Mastin swam to a second-place finish (3:38.89), scoring 34 points for the Cats.
Day one of the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships begins Thursday, March 23 at the University Aquatics Center in Minneapolis, Minn. with the prelims set to begin at 11:00 a.m. and the finals slated for 7:00 p.m. (CST).
* NOTE * All of the complete race results for both the preliminary and finals sessions from all three days can be found at the NCAA website: www.ncaachampionships.com