NCAA Division I Women’s Championships: Minnesota’s Haley Spencer Shocks Field, Wins 200 Breast

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AUSTIN, Texas, March 19. WITH the entire crowd focused on lanes 3-4-5, where an epic battle was taking place between Breeja Larson, Caitlin Leverenz and Jillian Tyler, Minnesota's Haley Spencer remained focused in lane 6 to snatch the women's 200-yard breaststroke title at the NCAA Division I Women's Championships.

In the most exciting race of the meet thus far, with the Texas Swimming Center crowd reaching some of its highest excitement levels, Spencer chalked up a 2:06.12 to win the NCAA title – Minnesota's first in the event. That time moved her to fourth in the all time rankings behind Rebecca Soni (2:04.75), Tara Kirk (2:05.73) and teammate Tyler (2:06.01).

"It was so close, especially those last few meters," Spencer said. "I just needed to go, that's all I kept thinking. I needed to finish strong. It took me a little while, because I didn't understand the No. 1 next to my name, I was just looking at my time. It finally hit, but it took a little while to process."

Texas A&M's Larson completed a remarkable season after having just begun swimming as a senior in high school last year. Larson began the year with a 2:22 lifetime best, and ended it with a runner-up finish with a 2:06.18 to jump to fifth all time in the event's history. While only .06 seconds separated Spencer and Larson, that isn't the closest 200 breast finish in NCAA history. Michigan's Lara Hooiveld (2:12.71) holds that record with a .03 second triumph over Texas's Lydia Morrow (2:12.74) in 1993.

California's Leverenz turned in a third-place 2:06.23 to better her lifetime best of 2:06.55, but now stand sixth all time. Tyler, meanwhile, faded to fourth with a 2:06.35 to complete an incredibly exciting finish.

South Carolina's Amanda Rutqvist (2:07.86), Texas' Laura Sogar (2:08.32), George Mason's Ashley Danner (2:08.52) and Denver's Grace Kittle (2:11.12) also enjoyed a top eight finish.

Stanford's Elizabeth Smith grabbed the B final win with a 2:08.76, while UCLA's Brittany Beauchan wound up 10th overall in 2:09.54. Indiana's Allysa Vavra (2:09.70), USC's Jessica Schmitt (2:10.15), Florida's Hilda Luthersdottir (2:10.19), Georgia's Michelle McKeehan (2:10.99), Arizona's Chelsey Salli (2:11.45) and Tennessee's Martina Moravcikova (2:11.96) completed the consolation heat.

California moved into first with 361 points, while Georgia fell to second with 354.5 points. USC (290), Stanford (232) and Arizona (220) held firm in the third through fifth spots.

Top 10 Average Scoring Running Projections*:
California (424.625), Georgia (384), USC (337.375), Stanford (276.25), Arizona (264.25), Texas (253.875), Florida (225), Auburn (199.25), Minnesota (192), Texas A&M (186.375)

* Average Scoring Projections based on the average points allotted to an A finalist (14.75) and a B finalist (4.625). Double points for relays.

Swimming World's NCAA Division I Women's Championships Notes Package Sponsored by NISCA