Brittany MacLean edges Missy Franklin

MINNEAPOLIS -- Olympians Brittany MacLean and Shannon Vreeland helped defending champion Georgia take the lead Thursday in the first day of the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships.

The Bulldogs put themselves in position to win back-to-back team titles for the first time since 2000-01 and lead second-place Stanford 189-136. California and Southern California are next.

Diver Laura Ryan gave the Bulldogs the crown in the 1-meter dive. MacLean set the NCAA record in the 500 free with a time of 4 minutes, 32.53 seconds.

"It just makes you want to do better on day two and day three," Bulldogs senior associate head coach Harvey Humphries said. "There's not a coach better in the world better than Jack in knowing how to prepare all of us. We've been prepared to do our jobs here, and that's what we're going to do."

Bulldogs coach Jack Bauerle, who coached the women's team to last year's NCAA championship, did not travel with the program to Minneapolis. He was initially suspended from a meet in January pending the school's academic eligibility review regarding sophomore men's swimmer Chase Khalisz and that status has not changed.

"It just makes you want to do better on day two and day three," Bulldogs senior associate head coach Harvey Humphries said. "There's not a coach better in the world better than Jack in knowing how to prepare all of us. We've been prepared to do our jobs here, and that's what we're going to do."

MacLean, Ryan and freshman Olivia Smoliga claimed the top spot in half of the first day's events. Smoliga won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.59.

Stanford swept the other three event titles in the 200-yard individual medley, 400-yard medley relay and 200-yad freestyle relay.

The Cardinal shocked the star-studded cast of California by edging them in the first event of the night, the 200-yard free. Olympian Lia Neal along with teammates Maddy Shaefer, Felicia Lee and Katie Olsen helped Stanford (1:26.23) best Cal's team that featured two Olympians in Missy Franklin and Farida Osman (1:26.67), which got the Cardinal off to a roaring start.

"It was a best-case scenario for us," Cardinal coach Greg Meehan said. "We talk about putting ourselves in a position to be successful and we did that this morning.Having two seniors win NCAA titles for the first time is really, really cool. That probably is the moment I'll remember the most."

Cardinal seniors Maya DiRado and Felicia Lee were both part of Stanford's title in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay, with DiRado also winning the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:52.50.

However, the Cardinal has plenty of ground to gain. Stanford trails the Bulldogs by 53 points, while California, last year's runner-up, trails by 63 points.

Franklin, a four-time Gold medalist and freshman at California, dipped her toes in a NCAA championship pool for the first time in her career and though she also broke the previous NCAA record in the 500 free, she fell short of MacLean.

"It's all a learning process, especially the 500," Franklin said. "I'm still learning the 500 and what works best for me.I was thrilled with the time, thrilled with the race. Though it puts a little fire in your heart, for me. I'm not disappointed in it, but I definitely wanted to win."

MacLean just missed the podium in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, placing fourth as a part of Canada's 800-meter freestyle relay, but was able to stand on top of the podium in Minneapolis, just above Franklin, who claimed four Gold medals in London.

MacLean came from behind Franklin on the last leg of the 500 free and gained 0.64 of a second in the final 50 yards to claim the title by 0.13 of a second.

"I saw (Franklin) and I knew she was still ahead of me, but I just knew that I was going to give it everything I had in the last 25 meters," MacLean said. "I just put my head down and tried to touch the wall first, and it worked out."

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