Carlson, Gardell, 800 Free Relay Highlight NCAA's Second Night

    Senior Kasey Carlson

    March 21, 2014


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    USC rebounded from a sluggish morning with a strong evening individually and on relays, highlighted by seniors Kasey Carlson (100y breast) and Stina Gardell (400y IM) in a pair of A finals as well as a fourth-place 800y free relay during the second night of finals at the 2014 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, Friday (March 21) at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis.

    Despite a tough morning that limited the Trojans' scoring potential tonight, USC remained in the top 5 with 189 points. Defending champion Georgia continued to lead with 369 and is followed in the top 10 by Stanford (297), California (285), Texas A&M (226.5), USC, Tennessee (155), Florida (154), Texas (119), Minnesota (91.5) and Arizona (84).

    USC's evening started with the 200y medley relay. After a slower-than-expected swim in prelims, Troy redeemed itself in the `B' final of the 200y medley relay as freshman Joanna Stenkvist, Carlson, sophomore Kendyl Stewart and freshman Evan Swenson clocked a season-best 1:36.20 to win the consolation heat. The time would've been sixth in the `A' final.

    In the heat, Carlson clocked a 25.78 breaststroke leg. An unofficial stat, it's minimum among the fastest of all time, if not the fastest.

    "I think we maximized everything that we had for tonight, which was good," USC coach Dave Salo said. "We're still positioned in the top 5, which is where we want to be. We have to wake up tomorrow morning and take a good, deep breath and have some good swims if we want to move up. Kasey did a great job on the 200 medley relay, which really set us off tonight. And the girls did a nice job from the outside lane in the 800. To be better than we were at Pac-12s is really tough."

    Carlson, second last year in the 100y breast and fourth as a freshman, powered through a strong field to her second-fastest time in the race, a 58.47 just off 0.11 off her PR. The top three finishers were under 58, including winner Breeja Larson from Texas A&M, who broke her American record in 57.23. Carlson went 59.00 in prelims.

    "I'm really excited. We're in a good place, hopefully, to challenge for a trophy," Carlson said. "I was very excited to go 25 in the breaststroke split. I've never done that before and it was good to win that `B' final for the team. The 100 breast felt good and I was excited to secure points for the team. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

    Gardell, in her second straight trip to the 400y IM `A' final, took seventh in 4:07.34, just off her 4:07.11 in prelims. She was fifth last year.

    She later swam the second leg of USC's fourth-place 800y free relay that included lead-off freshman Chelsea Chenault and sophomores Kasia Wilk and Jasmine Tosky who clocked a 7:00.18, just 1.06 off the school record. USC went 7:01.65 at Pac-12s.

    "Our goal before the race was to break the school record," Gardell said. "We just went for it and tried to get as many points as we could. Chelsea opened up so well and I tried to keep the pace as I went in and the girls behind me kept it up. Even though we didn't get the team record, we did very well. We got fourth in the nation."

    Earlier in the night, Chenault swam in her second `B' final, claiming 10th overall and second in the consolation heat of the 200y free in 1:44.25. She was ninth in prelims in 1:44.46, 0.16 out of the tie for seventh that closed out the top 8.

    Junior Haley Ishimatsu, who earned All-American honors on 1-meter Thursday, scored again Friday by reaching the consolation finals with 341.35 in prelims, 12th overall. During the `B' final, she scored 347.60, good for fifth and 13th overall. Her best dive came on her last, scoring 68.85 on an inward 2 ½ somersault tuck.

    In prelims, Stewart finished 18th in the 100y fly (52.35) while Tosky was 46th (53.70). Stenkvist was 42nd in the 100y back (53.96) and junior Andrea Kropp finished 32nd (1:01.02) in the 100y breast. Senior Meghan Hawthorne was aiming for her third straight scoring effort in the 400y IM but finished 21st in prelims in 4:10.73.

    USC had four others in the 200y free besides Chenault in prelims. Wilk was the next best finisher among USC's other four in the event, swimming to 21st (1:45.57). Stenkvist was 34th (1:46.72), freshman Lexie Malazdrewicz made her NCAA debut in a tie for 39th (1:47.47) while senior Lynette Lim was 41st (1:47.52).

    The meet concludes Saturday with prelims at 9 a.m. PT and finals at 5 p.m. PT.

    * Links to live streaming for Saturday's prelims session and Saturday's finals are below. Saturday Prelims / Saturday Finals