Arizona swimmers close out NCAA Championships with fifth place finish

Briana Sanchez /  Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA swim team takes on Washington State University on Friday, October 26, 2012.

Briana Sanchez

Briana Sanchez / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA swim team takes on Washington State University on Friday, October 26, 2012.

Evan Rosenfeld

Arizona’s female swimmers closed out the NCAA Championships at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind., earlier this week with a fifth place team finish, three individual national championships and an American record. The team compiled 311 points but fell behind Georgia, Cal, Tennessee and Texas A&M. This is the second consecutive season that the Wildcats have finished fifth and the 10th season in a row the team has placed in the top five.

Junior freestylist Margo Geer and sophomore diver Samantha Pickens earned individual championships, as Geer claimed national titles in the 50-yard and 100y-freestyle events and Pickens earned first in the 1-meter diving event. Pickens became the first Arizona woman to win a diving national title, compiling a 348.45 in the finals to win the 1m diving competition.

“I was really happy with my individual performance this year,” Pickens said. “I am beyond excited that I won an individual title and thought the team did great all together.”

Geer earned her first national championship in the first day of competition, placing first in the 50y-freestyle event and compiling a time of 21.73. She became the first Wildcat to win a title in the 50y-freestyle event since Lara Jackson in 2009.

“I’m pretty happy with how I did,” Geer said. “It feels great to finally achieve what I have been working for. It’s been really exciting and a dream come true. I’m so glad I was able to make it to this point.”

In the final night of competition, Geer earned her second national title after posting a time of 47.19 in the 100y-freestyle event. She became the first Wildcat to win the event since Lacey Nymeyer in 2008.

“I think our fifth place finish doesn’t say enough for how awesome we did this year,” Geer said. “I think we are in a much better place than last year, and we really came together toward the end of the season. Hopefully, we keep getting better going into next year.”

The Wildcats set an American record in the 400y-freestyle relay event after placing second and compiling a time of 3:10.63. The time eclipsed the previous American record of 3:10.87 set by Stanford last year. The relay team also earned second-place finishes in the 400y-medley, the 400y-freestyle relay and the 800y-freestyle relay events.

“I was extremely pleased with how our women swam,” head coach Eric Hansen said. “I thought they did a great job and was pleased to see everyone contributing. We did a lot of great things.”

Freshman backstroker Bonnie Brandon also contributed with a school record in the 200y-backstroke consolation final with a time of 1:51.41, beating her previous school record of 1:51.49.

“I think we had a fantastic season,” Hansen said. “It is definitely something we can build on for next year.”