Three firsts equal second place on opening day at NCAA swim

Stanford sits in second place of the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships after the first day of action Thursday, thanks to three national titles during the evening's finals session. Cardinal relays won the 200 free and 400 medley relays and Maya DiRado took the 200 IM top spot.

"When you have the opportunity to win and you go out there and do that, it's a pretty rewarding experience," Stanford coach Greg Meehan said. "Having two seniors win national titles for the first time is really, really cool, so that probably is the moment that I'll remember the most."

The 200 free relay started the night with a blazing school record of 1:26.23, just .03 off establishing an American record. The group of Maddy Schaefer (21.91 split), Lia Neal (21.37), Felicia Lee (21.20) and Katie Olsen (21.75) beat rival California by .44 seconds, as the race was not in doubt after Lee's 21.20 split.

Two events later DiRado claimed her first national title and, later, the Cardinal cruised to another first-place trophy to cap the day in the 400 medley relay.

DiRado was trailing Georgia's Melanie Margalis going to the last turn of the 200 IM, but came back with a 26.55 final split to pass Margalis. She touched the wall in 1:52.50 to claim the crown in the sixth-best time in 200 IM history, while Margalis was second in 1:52.64. It was DiRado's fastest time, but missed the school record held by Julia Smit.

"Greg (Meehan) told me before the race that if it was close to really push my last underwater in the final turn," said DiRado. "I felt really good in the first 25, I hit my turn really well and did some underwater, and then I heard the crowd, put my head down and it all worked out."

DiRado did not wait long to add to her growing NCAA resume, as she helped the 400 medley relay to the Cardinal's third championship of the day after a break for diving.

Stanford claimed the school, NCAA, meet, U.S. Open and American records by clocking in at 3:27.51 in the 400 medley relay. Led by a strong final leg from Neal (47.00), the Cardinal passed Texas A&M in the home stretch after the Aggies controlled most of the race.

DiRado led off with a 51.42, Olsen provided a 58.27 on the breaststroke leg and Lee went 50.82 on the fly to setup Neal's culminating effort.

"That was as great as that session could go, and we are all really excited," DiRado expressed. "It just speaks to how well our coaches prepared us and how well the team is coming together."

Stanford also had sixth-place showings from Lee in the 200 IM (1:56.14) and Schaefer was in the 50 free (21.91). Neal was second in the 'B' final of the 50 free (21.98), as the Cardinal tallied 136 points to trail only Georgia's 189.

Diver Alex Clay picked up three points by finishing 14th in the 1-meter.

The meet continues Friday with eight more events. The 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 800 free relay and 3-meter diving national championships will be decided.

— Stanford Athletics


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