ORLANDO, Fla. — The Cal State Northridge women's swim team rode the crest of two record-setting performances by Crista Lawrence to make a big splash on the second day of the NCAA Division II championships Thursday.
After Wednesday's opening day, Northridge found itself in second place, nearly 40 points behind the University of South Florida.
Enter Lawrence, who provided CSUN a boost by establishing a national Division II record in the 200-yard butterfly and swimming the third leg of a record-setting 800-yard freestyle team and help her team move within 15.5 points of South Florida.
Her butterfly win was clocked at 2:06.3, while the relay--which broke a record CSUN set last year--was timed at 7:35.24.
Accardy labeled the butterfly win a "big event" for his team--not only because it was the first of the day but also because CSUN had four swimmers entered, while South Florida had none.
"Our women swam exactly as we hoped they would. We really needed that fly."
While the CSUN women were surging forward in their attempt to win their first championship since 1982, the Northridge men were having difficulty with Cal State Bakersfield.
The Roadrunners, who trailed CSUN by 15 points entering Thursday night's swimming, gained sole possession of first place, 181-176, with a record-setting victory in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Clarion (Pa.) College and Oakland (Mich.) University were tied for third at 98 each.
Bakersfield, which exchanged the lead four times with CSUN in the relay, broke CSUN's 1982 record by nearly 3.5 seconds, with a time of 6:43.62.
Bakersfield Coach Ernie Maglischo who has headed three past national champions at other schools, said: "We're going to try our best to hold the lead. However CSUN looks very strong . . . in their diving events, so undoubtedly the swim lead will be hard to hold."
After two days of events, nine Division II records have been broken. That is an indication of how fast the recently opened Justus Aquatic Center is.
Said Lawrence: "This is probably one of the best pools I've ever swam in. When you walk into this complex and see how big it is, it helps psyche you. It reminds me of a little Olympic village."
Lawrence also attributed her blazing performances to a pre-meet change in her conditioning program that swimmers refer to as "tapering down."
Training for the dual-meet season usually consists of swimming up to 14,000 yards a day. During the taper-down period for a major meet, however, the swimmers often reduce their workouts to 2,000 yards a day.
"Resting definitely made a difference," Lawrence said, referring to the tapering. "I came here feeling stronger than I usually do during the dual meet season. Pete works us constantly during the season. Since I started resting two weeks ago, gradually the pain has lessened and my strength has peaked. . . .
"We needed to have a great night to stay close to South Florida and we did just that."
She added: "This is the best night of my life."
In an otherwise dismal day for the men, sophomore Jeff Kubiak turned in a superb effort in the 100-yard breast stroke, finishing second at 56.70. Teammate Jeff Fukushima, a senior, turned in his best swim of the year as he finished 11th at 58.91.
Going into the race, Kubiak said his goal was to beat last year's champion Robert Powers of Puget Sound University. Powers finished second in the preliminaries just in front of Kubiak, who was third. But Kubiak never got a chance at a rematch as Powers disqualified himself by jumping the starters gun at the beginning of the finals.
Another strong performance was turned in by junior Scott Grigsby in the 100-yard backstroke. Grigsby, who sprained ligaments in his right ankle and had not swum competitively in over a month, finished the event in fifth place at 52.87.
CSUN had a chance to lead the meet coming out of the last event, the 800-yard freestyle, but their second place finished drowned those hopes.
Accardy said he still feels good about winning its fifth straight Division II championship.
"At this point it's what we do emotionally that will determine the meet," Accardy said. "Right now I'm sure Bakersfield feels they have a good chance of winning it. But if we swim the way I know we can we should be all right."
Also contributing to this story was Leonard Lawless.