The senior posted a time of 46.88, not far off her collegiate record of 46.61. That pool record time helped the Tigers finish in seventh place at the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships held at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on the Auburn campus.
Auburn moved from eighth place into a tie for seventh in the final event, a second place finish in the 400 freestyle relay as the foursome of Hannah Riordan, Olivia Scott, Emily Bos and Vanderpool-Wallace swam a time of 3:11.49, which trailed only Stanford.
"It was the key race for us because it took us from eighth to seventh," said Auburn head coach Brett Hawke. "We've finished eighth the last two years running, and we didn't want to finish eighth again.
"It took us into a tie with Tennessee and it shows the SEC is still strong," Hawke added. "Even though the Pac-12 is doing a great job, it shows the SEC is still in there fighting hard."
Cal, which scored 412.5 points, won the team title by holding off a late rally by Georgia, which finished with 366 points. Rounding out the Top 10 were USC at 325.5, Stanford at 318. Arizona at 299, Texas A&M at 262, Auburn and Tennessee with 249 points, Texas at 201 and Florida at 160.
Vanderpool-Wallace, who will compete in London this summer at the Olympics, finished ahead of runnerup Megan Romano of Georgia, who posted a time of 47.01. Cal's Liv Jensen, who had upset Vanderpool-Wallace in the 50 freestyle, finished a distant fifth with a time of 47.69.
"I went into that race wanting to have fun," Vanderpool-Wallace said. "Everybody that I talked to told me to go in and enjoy what I had left. If I had come in eighth, I probably would've celebrated the same way. I'm so excited to be able to finish up my college career in a happy way, and I saw that I had won, and that was icing on the cake."
Commenting on ending her highly successful Auburn career, she said, "I don't know that it's completely sunk in yet. After the 100 freestyle, individually all the girls came over and hugged me, and they were crying, and I cried, too. I think tomorrow when I wake up I'm going to realize that my college career is actually over."
The senior will now turn her attention to international competition. "I think that I don't really have any goals now. I came into NCAAs with a bunch of goals and it didn't really pan out the way I wanted it to, and I realized I just have to throw everything to the wind and do whatever happens. Now I have a whole new mindset going into the Olympics."
Oliva Scott had a strong meet for the Tigers.
Hawke's Tigers set six school records in the three days of competition in their home pool. Those marks include: 100 butterfly, Olivia Scott (51.46 prelims); 200 freestyle relay, Vanderpool-Wallace, Riordan, Haley Krakoski, Bos (1:27.82); 400 freestyle relay: Riordan, Scott, Bos, Vanderpool-Wallace (3:11.49); 400 medley relay, Bos, Lauren Norberg, Scott, Vanderpool-Wallace (3:30.32 prelims); one-meter diving: Vennie Dantin, (337.60); three-meter diving, Vennie Dantin (379.55)
Two divers scored for the Tigers on the final day of competition. Anna Aguero finished 12th in the platform event to earn five points. Fellow senior Dantin was one spot behind her teammate to score four points.
Hawke said he was pleased with Auburn's performance. "It's always a battle racing some of the top teams in the country, and to come away with a seventh-place finish is a step in the right direction for us. We're moving forward, and hopefully we just continue that trend over the next few years."
Hawke will be headed to the West Coast next with his Auburn men's team competing at the nationals that start on Thursday and run through Saturday in Seattle.