COLUMBIA, Mo. --- Texas A&M sophomore Breeja Larson set an NCAA record in the morning session and logged her first-ever individual conference title in the evening final of the 100-yard breaststroke at the Big 12 Swimming & Diving Championships on Friday.
Larson, from Mesa, Ariz., cruised to victory by nearly two seconds with a time of 58.39 in the 100 breast finals, but her record-setting effort in the prelims had the crowd buzzing. Larson went 57.92 in the prelims to become the first collegian under 58 seconds while breaking the old NCAA record of 58.06 set by Annie Chandler of Arizona at the 2010 NCAA Championships in West Lafayette, Ind. Larson was just off the American record of 57.77 set by Tara Kirk in 2006 in Austin, Texas.
“It was an awesome swim without a doubt,” Aggie head swimming coach Steve Bultman said. “She was in a racing suit, but she’s nowhere close to being rested or shaved. She’s a racer. She believes in herself and she believes that she can accomplish anything. She surprised some people today. It surprised me that she did it right now.”
Larson’s NCAA record was the highlight of the day, but it was only one of many standout performances by the Aggies as they pushed their lead in the team standings into triple digits. A&M won five of six events contested on Friday. The Aggies have scored 717 points in the first three days, and go into Saturday’s final day with a 148-point lead over Texas (569). Rounding out the standings were Missouri (451), Kansas (243) and Iowa State (223).
Senior diver Jaele Patrick gave A&M its second diving victory in as many nights with her victory in the three-meter dive. Patrick posted a 30-plus point win with a score of 372.66, and the Aggies also received strong performances from Janie Potvin (5th, 334.05) and Rebecca St. Germain (6th, 318.95).
The Aggies opened the evening swimming finals with a dominating win in the 400-yard medley relay. The foursome of Paige Miller, Larson, Caroline McElhany and Kim Pavlin out-classed the field by nearly three seconds with a school-record and NCAA “A” cut time of 3:31.02.
A&M kept the winning going in the 400 IM with Cammile Adams and Alyssa Conner going 1-2 in the race. Adams took the gold in 4:08.88 and Conner was ahead of the next wave in 4:14.58. Ashley Adams contributed a fifth place finish in 4:16.52.
Also grabbing an individual gold was Miller in the 100 backstroke. Miller touched in 52.99 for the win, and was trailed closely by Anna Heller (4th, 53.55), Tess Simpson (5th, 53.59) and Pavlin (7th, 54.14).