Stanford senior swimmer Sarah Haase made a huge jump, measured in seconds, between her sophomore season and just-completed junior season.
Those seconds were the difference between swimming in a consolation final and winning the NCAA title in the 100-yard breast this past spring.
The excitement has spilled into the summer season, and Haase is making a bid to qualify for a spot on one of the U.S. senior national teams.
Haase finished seventh in the 100-meter breast at the Arena Pro Series meet in Santa Clara on Friday, swimming a 1:09.04, more than two seconds faster than her performance at the same meet last year, also a seventh-place finish.
"I reevaluated everything after my sophomore year," she said. "It was more a change of mentality. It was not an awful sophomore year but it was not where I wanted to be. At the start of my junior year, I received a lot of support from my teammates and the coaches."
As a freshman, Haase went 59.95 to finish 14th overall in the 100 breast. She improved her standing to 10th the following year, swimming 59.56, a time that would have placed her sixth in the nation had she qualified for the championship final.
It all came together for her this year, as she set a pool record 58.19 during NCAA preliminaries and then came back to win the title by .06 seconds, 58.32 to Alabama's Kaylin Burchell's 58.38.
"It was really cool to race against people not in the NCAAs," said Haase, who, at 21, was the youngest swimmer in the final. "My main focus is on the nationals at the end of the summer. It's been a while since I was on a junior team. It's time to get back."
Stanford grad Felicia Lee was third in the 100 fly with a time of 59.51, about a half-second behind winner Daynara De Paula.
"It felt good," Lee said. "I made some good changes between the morning and evening. I'm gearing up for the worlds and I'm happy with how training has been going."
Stanford sophomore Simone Manuel qualified for the 200 free finals and finished eighth with a time of 1:59.82. She'll be part of a talented field in the 50 free on Saturday.
Cardinal grad Maya DiRado finished seventh in the 50 back, an event won by Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin in an American record of 27.51. Stanford sophomore Janet Hu finished eighth. Stanford's Ally Howe was 13th in the event, which is not contested in the Olympics.
PASA's 400 free relay team of Leah Goldman, Isabelle Henig, Karlee Bispo and Jennifer Campbell finished third in 3:51.40, behind only Mexico and Hong Kong.
On the men's side, Stanford junior Max Williamson, who will compete at the World University Games, was the top finisher, going 4:18.22 to place second. Cardinal sophomore Curtis Ogren was sixth in a time of 4:23.96.
Stanford grad Eugene Godsoe went 53.85 to finish ninth in the 100 fly. Cardinal grads Geoff Cheah and David Nolan went 1-2 in the B final, swimming 53.73 and 53.74, respectively. Cardinal grad BJ Johnson was 13th in the 100 breast in 1:02.96.
PASA's 400 free relay team of Benjamin Ho, Joe Molinari, Alex Liang and Albert Gwo, all 17 or younger, finished fourth in 3:30.84. They were easily the youngest group in the race.