March 17, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. --- Megan Romano set an American record and helped Georgia surge up the leaderboard on Friday in the NCAA Championships at Auburn's Martin Aquatics Center.
Heading into the final day of competition, the Lady Bulldogs stand second with 247 points. California has the team lead with 311 points.
In winning the 200 freestyle, Romano, a junior from St. Petersburg, Fla., posted a time of 1:41.21. She eclipsed the American, U.S. Open and NCAA records of 1:41.53 set by California's Dana Vollmer in 2009. Romano also topped Allison Schmitt's school record of 1:42.08 and the pool record of 1:42.65 set in 2002 by Cal's Natalie Coughlin.
"I was just trying to help my team out," Romano said. "I was just honestly trying to go 142, but 141, I'll take it. It was exciting. The whole race felt good. I am really happy with the time."
Romano then anchored the 800 freestyle relay that won the gold medal. The team of Shannon Vreeland, Jordan Mattern, Amber McDermott and Romano stopped the clock in 6:55.96. Romano placed second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 51.37, shattering her school record of 52.07.
Romano's win in the 200 freestyle is Georgia's third straight in the event as Schmitt took the title in 2010 and 2011. Romano claimed the first NCAA individual title of her career. The 800 freestyle relay title is the third straight for the Lady Bulldogs, with Romano serving as the lone common denominator on all three.
"I'm really proud of Megan's performance in the double and of all four ladies on the relay," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "Megan has gotten better and better the last few years, so we knew she was capable of a performance like this. An American record is no small feat, and to get it in the 200 freestyle is pretty special. That's a tough record to break. Our relay was really, really good. That is the toughest relay, and to win it again, especially with two freshmen in the middle of it, means an awful lot. My hat's off to all of them for the way they swam and the way they competed."
Following Romano in the 200 freestyle, Vreeland placed fifth in 1:43.76 and Mattern came in 12th in 1:45.29.
In the 100 backstroke, Kristen Shickora came in eighth in 52.51.
Michelle McKeehan touched in 59.79 for sixth in the 100 breaststroke.
The NCAAs will conclude on Saturday with the 1,650 freestyle, the 200 backstroke, the 100 freestyle, the 200 breaststroke, the 200 butterfly, platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay. Georgia's Wendy Trott will attempt to become the first woman in NCAA history to win the 1,650 freestyle four times.
"Saturday is another big day for our team," Romano said. "The first day in prelims was a little tough, but I think we rebounded well and we are doing well. Every session, we just keep getting better, so I think we will have a good day tomorrow."