March 21, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. --- Diver Laura Ryan continued to rewrite the school record book and the Georgia women's swimming and diving team extended its lead on Friday in the NCAA Championships.
Highlighted by Ryan claiming the 3-meter springboard for her second title of the meet, the Lady Bulldogs finished the day with 369 points. Georgia will head into the final day of competition with a 72-point cushion over second-place Stanford.
On Saturday, the Lady Bulldogs will be seeking their sixth overall and second straight national championship.
"We're going to keep doing our jobs and do what we're supposed to do," Senior Associate Head Coach Harvey Humphries said. "We feel like we're in a good place. We hoped if we had a decent lead after tonight that we'd certainly be in a position to swim for a title (Saturday) and that's what we've wanted to do ever since September."
"I've been really excited about this meet," swimmer Shannon Vreeland said. "It's such an honor to be here with these girls. Everyone is doing her job and as a senior that makes me proud. We came in motivated and focused and we said, 'Whatever happens happens.' We knew that if we swam the way we were capable that we'd be in it on the last day."
Ryan rolled up 423.15 points to win the 3-meter title by more than 23 points over Texas' Maren Taylor. Coming into the meet, Georgia had never posted an individual national champion in diving, but the Elk River, Minn., native who grew up training in the University Aquatic Center changed all of that with her two springboard crowns.
"The 1-meter was a surprise, but this was the one I'd been working toward all season," Ryan said. "I knew I could do it if I stayed focused and did what I've been training for this year. Being back in this pool has given me an overwhelming sense of calm."
The 200 freestyle final lived up to its pre-meet billing as Vreeland came in second in 1:42.26, Brittany MacLean took fourth in 1:43.30 and Jordan Mattern placed eighth in 1:44.76. Cal's Missy Franklin, Vreeland's 2012 Olympics teammate, set the American and NCAA records as she won the event in 1:40.31, eclipsing the 1:41.21 set by Lady Bulldog Megan Romano in 2012.
The 800 freestyle relay of Vreeland, Amber McDermott, Mattern and MacLean took second in 6:55.09.
Melanie Margalis finished third in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:00.30, while McDermott stopped the clock in 4:05.15 to come in sixth. Nicole Vernon won the consolation final for ninth at 4:05.88 and Hali Flickinger followed in 10th at 4:06.18.
Smoliga claimed the B final of the 100 backstroke to finish ninth with a time of 51.47.
Annie Zhu placed 16th in the 100 breaststroke as she reached the wall in 1:00.49.
The NCAAs will conclude on Saturday.