|Strong collegiate finish for Arianna!|
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Mar 19, 2012
It seems like Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was saving her best for last.
After failing to repeat as National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Champion in the 50-yard freestyle, she made amends in the 100 free on Saturday, and ended the championships with a split in the 400 free relay that was even faster than her U.S. Open record. Vanderpool-Wallace was the only swimmer to dip below 47 seconds in the 100 free, finishing in 46.88 seconds for the title. It was sweet redemption for her as she finished third in the 50 free on Thursday, in 21.65 seconds.
She ended the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, which were held at her home pool at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Alabama, by anchoring the 400 free relay team to a silver medal performance, in 3:11.49. The Stanford Cardinal won the gold, in 3:10.77, and Georgia took the bronze medal behind Auburn, in 3:11.56.
“Individually, I was a lil disappointed with the 50 free,” said Vanderpool-Wallace. “Obviously I had some problems with the start and with a short race like that, it’s very difficult to recuperate after having a bad start. Even with the 100 free, it didn’t go as I had planned, but I just willed myself to victory. I dug down deep and finished the race. I was very satisfied with the time, because I feel that it wasn’t that good of a swim for me. It shows that I can definitely go faster,” she added.
Vanderpool-Wallace swam in seven events this past weekend, and made the finals of each one. She finished her Auburn career with 25 All-American titles - the second most in school history. She had a silver, one fourth place finish and two fifths in the four relays she swam, and individually, she repeated as champion in the 100 free, finished third in the 50 free and added a fifth place finish in the 100 fly. In her final race of her collegiate career, she anchored the Auburn University Tigers to a silver medal in the 400 free relay. She jumped into the water in third place but came home the fastest in the field, in 46.36 seconds. That split time was faster than her U.S. Open and NCAA record time of 46.61 seconds, which was done at the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championships this year. That stunning time is the fastest time ever swam by a female in that event in the United States.
“I was real happy about that because it was my last swim for Auburn. I wanted to finish strong,” said Vanderpool-Wallace yesterday. “We didn’t win the race, but all of the girls did as well as they could have done, so we were all happy about that.”
There’s no rest for the weary in this case, as Vanderpool-Wallace said it’s right back to the pool today to begin her transition from short course yards to meters, and begin her preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. She became the first Bahamian to ever win a medal at a world level swimming meet, when she accomplished the feat at the 10th FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2010, and the following year, she became the first Bahamian to advance to a final of the long course swimming worlds when she finished seventh in the 50 free in Shanghai, China.
“Arianna is just a phenomenal swimmer,” said bahamas Swimming Federation (BSF) President Algernon Cargill yesterday. “She was seeking to repeat in two events in the NCAAs this past weekend, and even though she didn’t accomplish that, she did remarkably well and we are very proud of her. I think that she has positioned herself to do well at the Olympics this year. I think the 50 free is her better event but we have to remember that this is short course yards, so the race was shorter and there was also the turn that was in there. We are still very proud of what she has done. She is one of the best in the world in both events and we know that she will do well at the Olympics and continue to represent this country well.”
In the 100 free, Megan Romano, a junior from Georgia, was second behind Vanderpool-Wallace, in 47.01 seconds, and Margo Geer, a sophomore from Arizona, won the bronze medal, in 47.14 seconds.
On Friday, Vanderpool-Wallace finished fifth in the 100 fly, in 51.79 seconds. Sara Isakovic, a senior from the University of California, Berkeley (Cal Berkeley), won the gold medal, in 51.49 seconds, Olivia Scott, a sophomore from Auburn, was second in 51.61, Kelsey Floyd, a junior from Tennessee, took the bronze medal, in 51.67, and Jennifer Connol, also from Tennessee, held off Vanderpool-Wallace for fourth, in 51.73 seconds.
Also on Friday, Vanderpool-Wallace swam the freestyle leg of the 200 medley relay team, and led them to a fourth place finish, in 1:36.15. Cal Berkeley won the gold, in 1:34.24, Arizona settled for silver, in 1:35.71, and Tennessee claimed the bronze ahead of Auburn, in 1:35.91.
Overall, at the three-day championships, Vanderpool finished with one gold, one silver, one bronze, a fourth place finish, and three fifths. The Auburn University Tigers captain led her team to a seventh place finish, with 249 points. The California Golden Bears won the meet, with 412.5 points, Georgia finished second with 366 points, Southern California was third with 325.5 points, Stanford finished fourth with 318 points, Arizona was fifth with 299 points, Texas A&M finished sixth, with 262 points, and the Auburn Tigers came in seventh.