Stanford's Simone Manuel stole the show again at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday evening at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The freshman set an American record in the 100-yard freestyle as part of a 1-2 Stanford finish with Lia Neal and anchored the American record- setting 400-yard freestyle relay to help the Cardinal finish in third place.
Manuel raced to a finishing time of 46.09 in the 100 freestyle to eclipse Abbey Weitzeil's American record 46.29 from this past December and fly by the NCAA field by more than a second. The Sugar Land, Texas, native led from start to finish, including a 0.16 advantage over eventual third-place finisher Natalie Hinds of Florida at the halfway point.
Manuel also erased the NCAA record of 46.61 by Arianna Vanerpool-Wallace of Auburn in 2012.
"When I looked over to the right I saw my team cheering," Manuel said. "That was all I could take away from it. I don't have my glasses on so I couldn't really see the time but when I did I was pretty shocked and excited."
It was the second time Manuel was on top of the podium after an individual event, as she won the 50-yard freestyle Thursday. Manuel is the first Cardinal swimmer to win the 50 and 100 in the same year since Jenny Thompson did it in 1992 and 1993. Thompson and Jenna Johnson (1986, '87) were previously the only two Stanford swimmers to accomplish the feat.
Sophomore Lia Neal was the closest to Manuel at 47.13 and 0.06 ahead of Hinds. It is Neal's second straight second-place finish in the event.
Neal and Manuel later combined with freshmen Janet Hu and Lindsey Engel to take down the second American record of the night. On the final event, Stanford stopped the clock in 3:08.54, highlighted by Manuel's finishing 45.79 split to earn its second relay title of the meet -- the 400 medley relay being the first. The time smashed the Cardinal's season best and program record 3:10.69 from earlier this season in addition to lowering the NCAA and U.S. Open records of 3:09.40.
Katie Olsen, Stanford's lone senior at the meet, went for third in the 200-yard breaststroke to finish her collegiate career. Her time of 2:07.06 was just ahead of Notre Dame's Emma Reaney's 2:07.10 in fourth. Minnesota's Kierra Smith stormed to a 2:04.56 to win the event.
Engel also picked up points by earning seventh in the 'B' final of the 200-yard butterfly. She qualified with a 1:55.60 prelim time to win the second heat before clocking 1:55.90 in the finals. Both times were well ahead of her seed time of 1:57.12.
Lilly Hinrichs chipped in a 13th-place effort in the platform diving competition earlier in the afternoon. Hinrichs missed qualifying for the finals by 0.3 before earning fifth in the consolation finals with a score of 287.25.
Stanford, however, failed to score points in the 1,650 free and 200 back.
California's 513 points topped Georgia's 452 for the national championship. Stanford scored 363 for third, ahead of Texas A&M's 231 in fourth.
"I don't know if it was exactly what we were expecting, but we knew that being in the top four was an important goal for us," said Stanford coach Greg Meehan. "We had a lot of things that we went through this year, and some challenges that we faced in the fall and again mid-year. I'm just so proud of this group for just working through that. Especially with the youth that we have, to kind of work through some of those things is so impressive. They are so resilient. This third place finish is about as meaningful as a finish as I think I've ever had."
Stanford extended its streak of top-eight finishes to 36 consecutive years. The Cardinal has been in the top eight every championship meet the NCAA has sponsored and claimed a top-five spot for the 12th time in the past 13 seasons.
The future is bright for Stanford, which had 10 of 16 swimmers competing at the NCAA meet for the first time. The Cardinal will have the services of world recordholder and Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky next season, as well.