All-America Boyce, Larson Complete NCAA Journeys With Top-40 Finishes
One day after reaching the NCAA final and achieving First-Team All-America status (more on this in a bit), Boyce went 49.22 in the 100 free to place 40th overall. The three-time Ivy League champion in the event, Boyce had earned All-America Honorable Mention in the 100 free during the 2013 Championships.
Following Boyce, Larson completed her debut NCAA Championships by finishing 39th in the 200 fly in a time of 1:58.73. It was a significant move up the ladder over 24 hours for Larson, who had finished 53rd in the 100 fly Saturday.
"It was an incredible weekend," Larson said. "I expected my first swim to be largely a learning experience, which it definitely was. Once I got used to the atmosphere I was more relaxed. It was fun to just race the 200 fly.
"I really feel that experience is invaluable at NCAAs," she added. "If I am fortunate enough to be invited again next year, I will come into the meet with a greater sense of what to expect. It'd be a privilege to pass that knowledge along to any teammates who might make the meet as well."
The Princeton buzz remained about Friday's All-America performance by Boyce in the 100 fly, an event she had never competed in at either the Ivy League or NCAA Championships.
Her only major collegiate title in the event came a few weeks ago, when she set a then-Princeton record (51.97) in winning the ECAC title. As it turned out, that was merely a glimpse into her potential. Swimming in the final preliminary heat of the 100 fly, Boyce went 51.57 to clinch the fifth-best time in the NCAA field.
"I am so excited for Lisa to have such a great swim in her senior NCAAs," said head coach Susan Teeter. "She deserves to have this level of success."
Boyce's time matched former Yale standout Alex Forrester for the Ivy League record. The two also hold another distinction, as they have produced one of the Top 25 fastest swims in the event by an American woman.
"I knew I had a swim like that in me somewhere, but it was just perfect to be able to put it all together exactly when I needed to," said Boyce, a nine-time individual Ivy League champion. "And I was definitely a little shocked by my place after the morning. Right after our heat finished, they posted the results pretty quickly, and I saw (teammate) Sada Stewart cheer really loudly all of a sudden, so I immediately looked at the 8th-place spot and couldn't figure out why she was so excited when I didn't see my name at the bottom of the results. So that was definitely a fun surprise, especially to be able to share that with Nikki after her first NCAA swim in the same event."
That guaranteed a berth in the NCAA final, where she finished seventh in 51.66, and it clinched her first First-Team All-America honor.
"I had so much fun Friday night," she said. "The experience was incredible. I might let myself get a little too excited, but I had a great time, and I haven't stopped smiling since."
Boyce is Princeton's first NCAA finalist since Alicia Aemisegger '10, who reached 10 NCAA championship finals and earned 13 All-America honors during her illustrious career. She is also Princeton's first All-America in the 100 fly since Grace Cornelius '95, who achieved the mark in 1991.
"It was just an incredible swim," assistant coach Suzanne Yee said. "She had a very mature approach and said she needed to swim this like she didn't have any races left. She framed it really well. She was also really happy with the way Nikki Larson swam her first NCAA race, which shows the kind of teammate she is."
"Witnessing someone I train with everyday receive some of the highest honors in the sport was surreal," Larson said of the Princeton co-captain. "Last year when she was All-American I was certainly ecstatic for her but didn’t truly understand what it all meant until I had the opportunity to be there in person. Seeing her step onto the podium in Orange and Black was a great moment."