2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Championships: Paige Madden Top Seed in 500 Free, Sierra Schmidt Stuns from Heat 1

Michigan's Sierra Schmidt. Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Championships: Paige Madden Top Seed in 500 Free

The 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships continue with the first preliminary session of the meet.

The events on tap for the morning are prelims for the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and 1-meter diving. Relays are all timed finals and will take place during the finals sessions.

Virginia leads the meet after winning the 800 free relay on opening night.

500 Freestyle

The NCAA record in the event is 4:24.06, set by Stanford’s Katie Ledecky in 2017. The pseudo-defending champion is Stanford’s Brooke Forde, who won in 2019 in 4:31.34, the 10th time Stanford has won the event. Forde’s time was fifth-fastest in history behind Ledecky, Leah Smith (4:28.90, 2017), Katie Hoff (4:30.47, 2007) and Dagny Knutson (4:31.18, 2009).

Michigan’s Sierra Schmidt got the day started with a fast swim in the first heat, touching the wall in 4:40. It was more than five seconds ahead of the rest of her heat and all of heat two — and faster than anyone in heat three or four.

Texas senior Evie Pfiefer was the first swimmer able to set a faster pace then Schmidt. In heat five, Pfiefer touched the wall in 4:38.18.

That stood until the final head when Virginia’s Paige Madden went 4:35.07.

Madden took the top seed in the event, ahead of Stanford’s Brooke Forde, who also was in the final heat, finishing just behind Madden in 4:37.49.

Schmidt’s quick time from heat one stunningly is the fourth seed heading into tonight’s final.

NC State’s Kate Moore made the final, finishing with the fifth seed in 4:40.13, two hundredths ahead of Cal’s Ayla Spitz (4:40.15).

Rounding out the top eight were Ohio State’s Sally Tafuto (4:40.70) and Georgia senior Courtney Harnish (4:40.72).