Perdue Second in 200 Free; 800 Free Relay Team Takes Sixth
AUSTIN, Texas – Sophomore Lauren Perdue broke her own school and conference record en route to second-place honors in the 200 freestyle and Virginia’s 800 freestyle relay team took sixth as the NCAA Championships continued Friday from Austin, Texas.
The event, which wraps up Saturday, is being held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center on the UT campus.
After 14 events, the Cavaliers remain in 14th place with 74 points, and trail 13th-place LSU by just six points. California continues its lead (295) followed by Georgia (274.5) and USC (253).
The 800 freestyle relay team of Rachel Naurath, Liz Shaw, Kristen Moores and Perdue won the second of three heats in a timed final with a mark of 7:03.04. Coming in seeded No. 10 in the event, the Cavaliers were able to grab sixth-place honors and earn All-American status.
“Liz and Kristen were just tremendous in the middle of that relay,” head coach Mark Bernardino said. “They both gave us lifetime bests freestyle splits. What we had asked them to do was put Lauren in a position where she could chase and they put her in a perfect spot. It didn’t take her long to run down USC and Texas A&M.”
“Kristen really held her ground in that race and seeing her finish so strongly was motivating on the blocks,” Perdue said. “I knew I had the chance to catch the swimmers in front of me and that’s what I was focusing on – winning the race for our team.”
Earlier in the night, Perdue clocked a time of 1:42.51 in the 200 freestyle race to finish behind only Allison Schmitt of Georgia, who won in 1:42.08. Her record-setting swim bested her own ACC record of 1:43.73 that she set at the ACC Championships.
“Lauren just took it to a whole new level,” Bernardino said. “She demonstrated tremendous courage in her race strategy, which was to take it out fast, to get out in front and put pressure on the field and finish as strong as she could. It was a gutsy swim and it inspired the other girls who were going to be on the relay.”
“Going into the race I was a little nervous but surprisingly calm,” Perdue said of her 200 freestyle swim. “My base training with Mark really played a part in my endurance and I was able to finish a lot stronger. I said a little prayer beforehand and it was a really great race.”
Crippen collected honorable mention All-America honors in the 400 individual medley for the fourth consecutive year. She finished fifth in the consolation final for a 13th-place showing in the event with a time of 4:07.73. Crippen will leave Virginia as the school and ACC record holder in the event with her performance of 4:07.29 at the ACC Championships last month.
“As has been the case all year, Claire Crippen, our inspiration, got us started off great tonight,” Bernardino said. “She had two great swims today and in a sense made her own personal history having become an All-American four years in a row. Her swim gave the team a lot of confidence.”
Day two of the NCAA Championships continues Saturday with the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 1650 freestyle, platform diving and 400 freestyle relay. Preliminaries are set for 11 a.m. CDT (12 p.m. Eastern) and finals will begin at 7 p.m.
“The 800 freestyle relay sends us out of here on a positive note,” Bernardino said. “It puts us maybe within reaching distance of 13th and gives us reason to hope we can move up in the team rankings with a great day tomorrow. If we can perform like we did on the last day of ACCs, who knows?”