Records fall at NCAA championships

AUBURN, Ala. -- California coach Teri McKeever isn't counting a third title in four years quite yet. Taking inventory of all the records can wait, too.

The Golden Bears stretched their lead in the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships Friday night, when four NCAA and American records fell. They take a 64-point lead (311-247) over Georgia into the final round, while USC and Arizona have 226 points and Stanford has 222 in a Pacific 12 Conference-heavy grouping.

"We'd better be good in the morning," McKeever said. "Georgia's got a monster day. I don't think by any means this thing's over."

Cal did get the record-toppling night started in style.

The Golden Bears opened by bettering their own NCAA, American and U.S. open records in the 200 medley relay, finishing in 1 minute, 34.24 seconds to break the marks set in last year's championships.

"We were joking there must be something magical in the water," said Cal's Caitlin Leverenz, who set American records in the 400-yard individual medley and as part of the winning relay team. "There's just so many people dropping so much time."

Southern California's Katinka Hosszu, a Hungarian Olympian, won her second straight 400 individual medley title with an NCAA-record 3:56.54. She beat Leverenz, the 200 IM winner, and Florida's Elizabeth Beisel in one of the weekend's most anticipated races. It featured three of the top four performers in NCAA history, all but former record-holder Julia Smit of Stanford (2009).

Leverenz set the American record in finishing second. Beisel won the world championship in the 400 meters last summer in China and they might get a rematch at the London Games.

"I was definitely nervous," Hosszu said. "We were so close going into the meet. I was already excited before I swam this race, because I knew it was going to be a big race."

Georgia's Megan Romano also broke the trifecta of records in the 200 freestyle. She won her first NCAA individual title after touching the wall in 1:41.21, breaking Dana Vollmer's 2009 mark.

"I thought she should be right around it," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said." She left a little gas in the tank in the morning (prelims).

"That's a hard record. Dana's a special swimmer."

Georgia closed the gap a bit with a closing win in the 800 freestyle relay for the third straight year with Cal taking second. Romano was the only one back from last year's winning team.

Breeja Larson of Texas A&M had a record-setting 57.71 in the 100 breaststroke, breaking Tara Kirk's 6-year-old American and U.S. Open mark. She was already the NCAA record holder but this time met the target she'd been chasing.

"It's incredible. I've had 57.75 written down on my notebooks, on my hand, on the mirror in my bathroom. Everywhere," Larson said. "I've thought about it and dreamed about it."

Texas A&M got another title when Jaele Patrick won the 3-meter diving with a score of 410.15, outdistancing Ohio State's Bianca Alvarez (386.30).

Cal had a modest 14-point edge over Pacific-12 Conference rivals Stanford and Southern California after the first round.

That started to open up at the outset with the 200 medley relay when the Golden Bears one-upped themselves.

"Going into last year, we were like, 'We can break this American record. All we have to do is go solid times,' " Leverenz said. "It was like so cool. This year again with the same relay coming back, we weren't focusing on, 'Let's break the record.' We were focusing on, 'Let's see how fast we can be,' and we were almost a second faster than our time, so we're really happy with that."

She and teammates had a streak of California blue in their hair after doing the same at the Pac-12 championships.

Cal's Sara Isakovic won the 100 butterfly and led off the 800 freestyle relay. Teammate Cindy Tran won the 100 backstroke, swam the opening leg of the 200 medley relay and left feeling good about her team's chances but not overconfident.

"Somebody can always do something amazing, but I know we're going to fight," Tran said,