A year's worth of practice and preparation culminates this week as the Stanford women's swimming and diving team heads to the NCAA Championships that run Wednesday through Saturday in Atlanta, Ga.
Stanford (7-0), which finished the regular season unbeaten and ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation, will send 10 swimmers and three divers to the championship meet.
The Cardinal seeks its 36th straight top-eight finish and 12th top-five showing in the past 13 years.
Stanford has won the NCAA title eight times, the most of any team in the nation. The Cardinal last raised a championship banner in 1998.
Once again, the young Cardinal squad -- featuring three freshmen and four sophomores among its 13 athletes -- will be a favorite to contend at the top of the team standings and in a number of individual races.
Freshman Ella Eastin is the top seed in the 200-yard individual medley (1:52.77) and 400 IM (3:59.30), while Lia Neal has posted the nation's top time in the 100-yard freestyle (46.497) and 200 free (1:42.50) this year.
Senior Sarah Haase is the second seed in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.02) and Eastin ranks second in the 200-yard butterfly (1:51.96). Sophomore Ally Howe is third in the 100-yard backstroke (50.71) and sophomore Janet Hu is third in the 200 back (1:50.48).
In addition to those eight spots, Stanford also features six other top-16 seeds, and has three divers -- Gracia Leydon-Mahoney, Alex Clay and Lilly Hinrichs, with a combined seven spots in the three diving events.
Stanford will become an immediate favorite for next year's NCAA title when world recordholder Katie Ledecky joins the team after deferring her freshman season in order to train for the Rio Olympics. Also returning next season will be sprint sensation Simone Manuel and diver Kassidy Cook -- also sitting out to train for the Summer Games.
Cal is the defending NCAA team champ and will go after another crown with a solid team that includes Gunn grad Rachael Acker, this year's Pac-12 Scholar-Athete of the Year in women's swimming.