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AUBURN, Ala. – Sophomore Rachel Naurath broke her own school record in the 500 freestyle Thursday as the 2012 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships opened in Auburn, Ala. Naurath and freshman Ellen Williamson both nabbed honorable mention All-America accolades on day one of competition. The meet, which runs through Saturday, is being held at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center on the Auburn campus.

Naurath went 4:37.87 to finish 10th overall in the 500 freestyle and was second in the consolation heat. That mark bested her previous school mark of 4:38.48 that she set during the preliminaries of the 2011 NCAA meet. Naurath finished 16th a year ago and earned honorable mention All-American honors for the second consecutive year.

“After the 200 mark, I started to feel really strong,” Naurath said. “I was able to pick it up and I really dropped my splits. I know I can still go faster but that was a good step forward. It has taken me a really long time to get to the point where I can go faster in finals. I have started to do that this year. It was a good race and was nice to break the record. All I wanted was to go a best time.”

“Rachel had a good swim this morning and then she came back tonight and had an exceptional swim,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “It was the best race she’s ever had as a Virginia student-athlete. I couldn’t be happier for her. She was able to handle the pressure of stepping up and breaking the school record. She had a trememdous amount of speed in the back half of the race.”

Williamson, swimming in her first NCAA Championships, took 14th overall in the 200 individual medley to collect her first career honorable mention All-America accolade. She touched in 1:58.92 during the consolation final after touching in 1:57.67, a personal best, during the preliminaries.

“Despite not feeling particularly well, Ellen had a really good morning swim and bounced back tonight and held her seed,” Bernardino said. “For a first year to come to this meet and do what she did today was excellent.”

Virginia accumulated 10 points on day one of the meet.

Earlier in the day, freshman Alison Haulsee and sophomore Caroline Kenney placed 21st and 42nd, respectively, in the 500 freestyle. Haulsee touched in 4:42.64 while Kenney finished in 4:47.64.

In the 200 individual medley, redshirt freshman Megan Fox placed 36th overall (1:59.77) and freshman Sarah White took 39th (1:59.95).

Junior Meredith Cavalier tied for 43rd place in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.71 while sophomore Emily Lloyd tied for 56th in 22.90. Cavalier’s time was a lifetime best.

“This morning we had some really nice performances,” Bernardino said. “Alison was excellent in the 500 and Meredith Cavalier swam two lifetime bests in the 50 free and then her 100 split on the relay. Everybody who swam this morning for the first time handled the pressure well. They will continue to learn and grow. We are breaking the ice here and racing well. We were very respectible with every single race we had today.”

Virginia’s 400 medley relay team of sophomore Charlotte Clarke, senior Kelly Flynn, Williamson and Cavalier was disqualified. Had their time of 3:38.13 stood, it would have put them 20th overall.

Day two of the NCAA Championships continues Friday with the 200 medley relay, 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 3-meter diving and timed finals of the 800 freestyle relay. Preliminaries begin at 11 a.m. Central (12 p.m. Eastern) with finals commencing at 7 p.m. Central (8 p.m. Eastern). Links to live webcasts and live results are available on VirginiaSports.com.

2012 NCAA Women’s Championships
Team Standings (through event 6)
1. California 132
2. Stanford 118
2. Southern California 118
4. Arizona 107
5. Auburn 94
6. Georgia 91
7. Texas A&M 89
8. Texas 74
9. Tennessee 73
10. Missouri 44
20. VIRGINIA 10
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