Woodward fourth in talented field of 50 free swimmers


Stanford junior Samantha Woodward finished fourth in the 50 free at the NCAA women's swimming championships in March against the top competition on the collegiate level.

Woodward repeated that finish Thursday at the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships in Irvine. This time it was against some of the best competition, period.

In an event where milliseconds count, Woodward finished ahead of the top two finishers in the NCAA meet with her time of 25.32. Palo Alto High grad Liv Jensen won the college title and finished 17th in 25.61. Stanford's Betsy Webb finished second to Jensen at the NCAA meet, and finished 20th in 25.98 Thursday.

Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics' Maddy Schaefer was 11th in the 50 free with a time of 25.62, followed by Stanford senior Kate Dwelley in 25.77, who finished 13th. Stanford sophomore Andrea Murez was 19th in 25.89.

Kara Lynn Joyce won her second career national title in the 50 free, swimming a 24.86, the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. Madison Kennedy was second in 25.15, while 2004 Olympian Amanda Weir was third in 25.29.

Schaefer had a big day, also helping PASA finish third in the 200 free relay. She swam the first leg and was followed by Camille Cheng, Alicia Grima and Jasmine Tosky. The foursome went 8:13.75 in a speedy race that nearly led to a meet record. The Colorado Stars won the event in 8:07.45.

Tosky added a ninth place finish in the 400 IM, swimming a 4:43.90. Stanford product Julia Smit was tenth in the prelims with a 4:46.02, but did not swim in the finals.

Also in the IM, incoming freshman Andie Taylor had the fourth-fastest preliminary time (4:42.23), and ended up seventh with a time of 4:43.92 in the evening finals, while Maya Dirado was a runner-up in the consolation finals with a mark of 4:44.25. Fellow freshman, Kirstie Chen was 13th overall with a mark of 4:48.26.

The PASA 'B' 800 free relay team of Julia Ama, Ally Howe, Jessica Bergman and Stanford's Megan Fischer-Colbrie, finished 16th in 8:32.66.

Rebecca Soni and Michael Phelps turned in the fastest times in the world this year in their respective events Thursday.

Soni won the 100 breast by more than two seconds over the rest of the field, touching at 1:05.73. Phelps, meanwhile, won his 50th career national title in the men's 100 fly with a time of 50.65.

The women's 100 breast featured a showdown in the middle of the pool between Soni and Jessica Hardy, the two fastest swimmers of all time in the event and the top two Americans in the world this year.

Last year, Soni set the world record in the event en route to a gold medal at the FINA World Championships in Rome, only to have Hardy break that record a week later at the U.S. Open in Federal Way, Wash.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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