The Boise State women's swimming and diving team will end its season at the 2011 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships for the first time, March 17-19, in Austin, Texas. Juniors Amber Boucher and Stephanie North became the first student-athletes in program history to qualify for the prestigious meet.
Boucher and North each swam qualifying times at the 2011 WAC Championships, Feb. 23-26, in leading the Broncos to their second-consecutive conference crown.
Boucher was invited in three events: the 100-yard butterfly, the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. She will swim all three at the NCAA Championships.
North was invited in the 100-yard freestyle. She will also swim the 50- and 200-yard freestyle events.
Swimmers competing at the NCAA Championships will represent 58 of the 195 schools that sponsor Division I women's swimming and diving. Boise State is one of 36 schools to have multiple student-athletes invited.
Florida is the defending champion.
For a full schedule of the week's events, see page 3.
Follow It Live: Video of the evening sessions will be streamed live Friday and Saturday on ESPN3.com. Live results will be available for every event on NCAA.com, as well. For analysis check out CollegeSwimming.com's live coverage.
About the Meet: Considered by many to be the fastest meet in the world, the NCAA Championships run Thursday through Saturday. Prelims will begin at 11:00 a.m. (CT) each morning, while finals will start at 7 p.m. each night.
The top 30 swimmers in each individual event received invitations, and the participants can then swim additional events for which they achieved NCAA provisional standards during the season.
Event-by-event: Boucher and North will combine to race in four different events. Each figures to be in contention to swim at night at least once, and Boucher is among a small group of competitors with a shot at earning a medal.
50-Yard Freestyle (Thursday)
The Broncos will make their debuts at the NCAA Championships in the event that carries the lowest expectations, the 50 freestyle. Boucher earned an invitation in the event with a 22.30 to win the WAC Championship. She is ranked No. 19 in the event and, as is the nature of the event, sits a tenth of a second out of the top 10. North earned her provisional standard at the conference meet, turning in a 22.75, good for No. 50 at the NCAA meet.
100-Yard Butterfly (Friday)
Boucher will vie for All-America status and a berth in the A Final when she swims her best event, the 100 butterfly. She posted a remarkable 52.05 in repeating as WAC Champion in the event, just three one-hundredths of a second away from the first NCAA automatic qualifying time in school history. Boucher is seeded sixth.
200-Yard Freestyle (Friday)
North will be the Broncos' lone entrant in the 200 freestyle. She earned her 'B' cut in a preliminary heat at the conference championship, and lowered her mark when she won the title during finals. North's time of 1:46.96 ranks her 42nd in the event. Boucher's school-record time would rank in the top 20 nationally, but she was not entered in the event because it immediately follows the 100 butterfly.
100-Yard Freestyle (Saturday)
Boucher and North were each invited to the meet in the 100 freestyle with strong performances going 1-2 at the WAC Championships for the second-consecutive year. Boucher's 48.33 sits ninth in the meet where she is part of a logjam of six swimmers within two tenths of one another. North, despite sweating out the final hours before the selections, is comfortably in the field and within striking distance of scoring at No. 22 (48.82).
Boucher Recognized: Amber Boucher is not flying completely under the radar in her first trip to the national championships. Boucher, along with Claire Donahue of Western Kentucky, were honored as the "Swimmers to Watch" in the 100-yard butterfly at NCAA Championships by Chris Harrell of CollegeSwimming.com.
"Both of these small school ladies are ranked in the top six and will be looking for their school's highest NCAA finish," Harrell wrote.
The Broncos in Texas: This marks the first time the Broncos will swim at a meet in Texas other than the WAC Championships. All five conference championship meets Boise State has competed at have been in San Antonio. The Broncos have never swam a dual meet in Texas.
Twice as Nice: Boise State claimed its second-straight WAC Championship in impressive fashion Feb. 23-26, in San Antonio. The Broncos scored 835 points, the ninth-highest total in conference history, to win by 258 points over second-place Hawai'i. It was the largest margin of victory at the WAC Championships since 2003. Boise State won 10 events, including all five relays. It was also the first relay sweep since 2003. At least one Bronco swimmer finished in the top three of every event, including five events with multiple Bronco medalists. No event was more resounding than the 1-2-3 sweep in the 50-yard freestyle. Along the way, Boise State set three WAC Championship meet records and six Palo Alto Natatorium Pool records.
Cream of the WAC: Boise State head coach Kristin Hill was named the WAC Coach of the Year and junior Amber Boucher earned her second-consecutive WAC Swimmer of the Year honor.