Individual and Team Predictions for Women’s NCAA Championships

By David Rieder

DURHAM, North Carolina, March 18. THAT time of year has arrived. March is championship season, and that doesn’t just mean the 68-team men’s basketball tournament. The top female swimmers and divers in the country have arrived in Minneapolis for NCAAs. After many months of dual meets and more recently conference championships, no previous times or scores matter for three days of exciting racing, abounding team spirit, and severe lactic acid buildup.

This meet shapes up as a battle between the two teams that finished in the top two in the standings last year, Georgia and Cal. The Golden Bears have the big names on their side, with the likes of U.S. National teamers Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Pelton, and Rachel Bootsma. Georgia’s two superstars, meanwhile, won’t be returning as both Allison Schmitt and Megan Romano completed their eligibility and moved on, but the Bulldogs have a nice base of talent still, with Melanie Margalis finishing up a stellar season and freshman Olivia Smoliga establishing herself as one of the country’s premier sprinters.

Two-time Olympic medalist Elizabeth Beisel finishes her college career this weekend, as does London teammate Breeja Larson, while Stephanie Peacock hopes to bounce back after missing the meet her junior year with a second career title in the 1650. Check out today’s and tomorrow’s Morning Swim Shows for more of my thoughts on the meet, but here are my event-by-event picks and my choices for the top five teams this weekend.

200 Free Relay
1. Georgia
2. Stanford
3. USC

500 Free
1. Missy Franklin, Cal
2. Shannon Vreeland, Georgia
3. Leah Smith, Virginia

200 IM
1. Maya Dirado, Stanford
2. Melanie Margalis, UGA
3. Elizabeth Pelton, Cal

50 Free
1. Margo Geer, Arizona
2. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia
3. Kasey Carlson, USC

400 Medley Relay
1. Cal
2. Georgia
3. Stanford

200 Medley Relay
1. Georgia
2. Cal
3. Stanford

400 IM
1. Elizabeth Beisel, Florida
2. Maya Dirado, Stanford
3. Melanie Margalis, Georgia

100 Fly
1. Felicia Lee, Stanford
2. Kendyl Stewart, USC
3. Ellese Zalewski, Florida

200 Free
1. Missy Franklin, Cal
2. Shannon Vreeland, Georgia
3. Elizabeth Pelton, Cal

100 Breast
1. Breeja Larson, Texas A&M
2. Kasey Carlson, USC
3. Molly Hannis, Tennessee

100 Back
1. Rachel Bootsma, Cal
2. Courtney Bartholomew, Virginia
3. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia

800 Free Relay
1. Georgia
2. Cal
3. Stanford

1650 Free
1. Stephanie Peacock, North Carolina
2. Brittany MacLean, Georgia
3. Amber McDermott, Georgia

200 Back
1. Elizabeth Pelton, Cal
2. Elizabeth Beisel, Florida
3. Sinead Russell, Florida

100 Free
1. Missy Franklin, Cal
2. Lia Neal, Stanford
3. Margo Geer, Arizona

200 Breast
1. Breeja Larson, Texas A&M
2. Emma Reaney, Notre Dame
3. Melanie Margalis, Georgia

200 Fly
1. Cammile Adams, Texas A&M
2. Maya Dirado, Stanford
3. Jasmine Tosky, USC

400 Free Relay
1. Cal
2. Georgia
3. Arizona

Team Scores
1. Georgia
2. Cal
3. Stanford
4. Texas A&M
5. USC

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Author: David Rieder

David Rieder has been a contributor to Swimming World since 2009. A native of Charleston, SC, he currently attends Duke University, where he works as the public address announcer for the varsity swim team.

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