Thanks for the NCAA Memories


By Mike Watkins//Correspondent

The Women’s Division I NCAA Championships begin tomorrow at the Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis. And just like every other year, swimmers from colleges and universities from across the country will convene with the goal of winning NCAA titles – individual and team.


Unfortunately, only a handful will actually return home with hardware, but everyone will leave with a handful of memories – some of which will last a lifetime.


Following are some NCAA Championship memories from some top swimmers – past and present – that have stayed with them ever after the final splash.

Maritza Correia McClendon, University of GeorgiaMaritza Correia (small)
“My favorite memory comes in two parts. My sophomore year at the 2001 NCAAs in Long Island, N.Y., I had to swim the 100, 200 and 500 freestyles (my freshman year I swam the 200, 400 and 1500). I made a bet with Jack (Bauerle) that if we won the meet, I would get to choose what I swam at the next NCAAs (which I had wanted to swim the 50 for the past two years). It was the closest meet ever, but we pulled off a 1.5 point win over Stanford that came down to the last relay that I anchored. With that win, I picked the 50, 100, and 200 free events to swim the next year at 2002 NCAA Champs in Austin, Tex. My first individual race out the gate was the 50 free, which I not only won but broke Amy Van Dyken's 10-year-old American record. I will never forget Jack's face and how he, still to this day, jokes about how smart it was of him to put me in the 50 free.”


Jesica Hardy (small)Jessica Hardy, University of California-Berkeley
“Swimming at NCAAs taught me the value of team. It ignited my passion for relays, especially, and prepared me for the pressure of swimming for more than just myself on the international stage.”


Kim Vandenberg (small)Kim Vandenberg, UCLA 

“My best memory isn’t swimming-related but it happened at the 2004 NCAAs in College Station, Tex. So...there was a tornado warning one night, and a few of us started to panic (since we were from California and not used to tornado warnings). We proceeded to run down the hallway and wake up Brian, our massage therapist, as well as our coach, Cyndi Gallagher. In the end, there was no tornado, but it was a bonding experience with our team. We couldn't stop laughing about it the next day. I actually don't remember how I swam that year, but I will always remember enjoying those moments with my teammates.” 


Shannon Vreeland, University of GeorgiaShannon Vreeland shows off her Olympic gold. (Small)

“Winning the (2013) NCAA Championships last year! Getting to swim the last relay and setting the NCAA record with some of my best friends was the perfect way to end the perfect meet.”




Mary Mohler (small)

Mary DeScenza Moehler, University of Georgia 

“My favorite memory from NCAAs is not a single memory, but is the collective memory of coming together as a team each year to kick butt. Through sickness and tough swims, you know you always have your coaches and teammates to bring you back up. It's amazing how you can pull together and achieve great things together.”



Lyndsay DePaul, USCLyndsay DePaul (small) 

“Swimming has always been known as an ‘individual’ sport, but my favorite memory of NCAAs is one I shared with the entire team. It was so much easier to train and perform at the meet knowing there were other ladies depending on me, and my best memory was earning that third-place trophy my senior year. We knew that earning top 4 was in the cards for us that season, but when they called our team out at the conclusion of the competition and we got to run up on the podium and hold our trophy, it all sunk in. I loved being on a team that made our sport a team sport. I'll never forget how heavy that thing was!”


Jasmine Tosky (small)Jasmine Tosky, USC 
“The first individual final of NCAAs was the most memorable for me. I wasn't even swimming, but jumping on the bleachers cheering on Haley Anderson who was swimming the 500 freestyle. I was nervous, desperate, excited and electrified, all at the same time. And by the end of 4 minutes, 34 seconds, I was exhausted. Maybe not as exhausted as Haley, but I was mentally, and even physically, drained from the intense emotional high from cheering.” 


Caitlin Leverenz, University of California-Berkeley Leverenz (small)

“My favorite memory was at NCAAs in 2012. My roommate at the meet and one of my best friends, Shelley Harper, was swimming the 500 freestyle on the first day. She was a senior who had come into Cal as a decent swimmer. She barely missed making NCAAs her freshmen year, she got sick right before Pac 12s her sophomore year and barely missed it again and she finally made it her junior year but didn't score. It was her senior year, and she was swimming the 500 the first morning. She was in a circle seeded heat and went out for it. I don't even remember her time or place now, but I remember she swam fast enough to make it into the finals. I was so happy for her I started crying! And this was right before I had to swim my 200 individual medley, too. College swimming creates such a unique and amazing environment that I can be just as happy (or more!) for a friend and teammate to swim well as I am for myself. And then we won the whole meet, so that was fun too!” 


Alyssa Anderson, University of Arizona Alyssa Anderson (small)

“I have such fond memories of each of my NCAA Championship experiences. I think one of the most vivid ones was my junior year watching our four freshmen girls get up and start off our meet in the 800 freestyle relay. Two years prior, I stood on the side of the pool and watched the four seniors (Lara Jackson, Taylor Baughman, Justine Schluntz and Lindsey Kelly) win and break an American record, so the flashback was there and powerful. It’s a really special event for me because it falls right before the 500 Freestyle and sets the tone of the meet for a team. Obviously, sending four freshmen up there to set the tone is a little scary. I was glued to the pool as they raced to a close second! I was so unbelievably proud of them, and it got me so pumped for my performance a couple minutes later. I think the power of heart-pounding performances like that and special teammates is pretty magical. I can't thank my teammates enough for the incredible four years I shared with them at the University of Arizona and the countless times I was inspired by their performances.”

Catherine Breed, University of California-Berkeley Catherine Breed (small)

“I think my freshman year, watching my teammates do amazing and surprising things, stands out for me, especially Shelley Harper finaling in the 500 and Sara Isakovic winning the 100 fly. And with that, the cheering we do for each other, during the races and before, and especially during relays. I love hearing and yelling ‘Cal bear re-lays’ and ‘roll on you bears!’ The behind-the-scenes moments also stand out. NCAAs are the reward at the end of the season. The moments when my teammates and I laugh and just enjoy the moment are my favorite, such as singing in the van, ‘rookie skits’ and dressing up. It's hard to think of a specific moment because it all blends together.”

Allison Schmitt (small)Allison Schmitt, University of Georgia 

“Swimming the 400 freestyle relay before we won the national title last year will always be special to me. All we had to do was not DQ the relay, so we were so excited before it knowing that we just had to finish in any place. We were joking around and laughing leading up to the race and even as we stepped up on the blocks. We ended up winning the relay and setting a record which was a cherry on top of everything.” 


Laura Sogar, University of Texas Laura Sogar (small)

“I would say without a doubt the most memorable moment for me was hugging my team after winning the 200 breast last year. I knew without a doubt that I wouldn't have done it without them and to share such a special moment together was priceless.”

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