INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Margo Geer and Samantha Pickens captured individual national titles to lead the Arizona women's swimming/diving team to a strong opening day at the 2013 NCAA Championships inside the IUPUI Natatorium in downtown Indianapolis. The Cats are in third in the team competition with 127 points, just behind Georgia (163) and Tennessee (150.5).
"Obviously Margo and Sam made a statement tonight," head coach Eric Hansen said. "We just missed on a couple relays but I'm really proud we put them both in the top three and it gives us some momentum heading into tomorrow. We positioned ourselves where I thought we could be after the first day -- kind of a best case scenario. We look forward to seeing what we can do the next two days."
Geer earned her first national championship after posting a time of 21.73 to win by .15 over Megan Romano of Georgia. Faith Johnson of Tennessee finished third with a time of 21.89. Geer became the first Wildcat to win the 50 free since Lara Jackson won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. The junior first took third as a freshman, then finished runner-up to Liv Jensen of California last year, before earning the title this season.
Meanwhile, Pickens became the first Arizona female to win a national title in diving. Pickens was impressive in prelims as she was the top seed and then continued the momentum in the finals with several impressive dives. She scored 348.45 in the finals to win the 1m competition. It is the second consecutive year that a member of the Pac-12 won the event as Victoria Ishimatsu won the event last year.
To open the night, Arizona posted a third place finish in the 200 free relay. Geer (21.71), Kait Flederbach (21.79), Megan Lafferty (21.53) and Alana Pazevic (22.48) clocked in with a time of 1:27.51. Tennessee (1:27.14) won the title with Georgia finishing in second at 1:27.38. The time was the fastest of the year for the Cats in the event.
Freshman Bonnie Brandon continues her impressive season by placing fourth in the 500 free with a time of 4:35.96, which ranks second in school history. Brandon knocked nearly three seconds off her previous best time, which she recorded in the prelims.
The Wildcats closed out the night with a strong second place showing in the 400 medley relay as Lauren Smart (52.39), Ellyn Baumgardner (58.16), Lafferty (51.67) and Geer (46.61) clocked in with a time of 3:28.83 to finish just behind Tennessee.
Tomorrow's events will get underway with prelims beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET and finals at 7:00 p.m. ET. The competition tomorrow will include the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 3m diving and the 800 free relay.
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