8 Faces Of Sprint Freestyle In Women’s NCAA Division I Championships

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Commentary by Jeff Commings

TUCSON – The races last about 21 seconds and 46 seconds, but the 50 and 100 freestyles at the women’s Division I championships in two weeks will people taking for much longer than that. Could we have American records in both events?

Women’s NCAA Division I Championships Psych Sheet

One person will be the talk of the meet, but seven others are in the mix to do some damage and make headlines in both events. Here are the eight women to watch in the 50 and 100 freestyles in two weeks:

Simone Manuel

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Manuel will be on a mission in the 100 freestyle, aiming to get that American record back from Abbey Weitzeil after owning it for about two weeks in November. Manuel swam a 46.62 in late November to lower her own American mark as a Stanford freshman, but Weitzeil – now a high school senior – responded with a 46.29. What does Manuel have up her sleeve in two weeks? As for Lara Jackson’s American record of 21.27 in the 50 free, that might not fall this year, but Manuel could get in the 21.4 range later this month.

Ivy Martin

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Martin will be closing out her collegiate career, and is hungry for a national title. She’s been on a roll since last summer, where she was second in the 50 free at the USA Swimming nationals and is swimming at the world championships this summer. If there is to be a spoiler to Manuel’s potential sprint free double, Martin is it, and she would become Wisconsin’s second female to win an NCAA swimming title.

Olivia Smoliga


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Smoliga surprised everyone by winning the 50 free as a Georgia freshman last year. Now, it’s up to her to prove the win wasn’t a fluke. Her personal best 21.54 won’t be enough to win, unless Manuel or Martin make a tactical error, but in a race where the tiniest mistake could cost you the race, Smoliga could find herself at the top of the podium with another lights-out swim.

Lia Neal

Stanford Swimming vs. Arizona

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Commings

Neal is best in the 100 free, where she and Manuel can make it a Stanford 1-2 finish. Neal has been performing admirably under Greg Meehan’s guidance, and that includes improvements in the 50 and 200 freestyles. Neal is seeded 19th in the 50 free, but has the experience of racing at the Olympics to keep her calm in the face of a daunting task of making the top eight. Neal took 10th in the 50 free last year, and doesn’t want to find herself in the consolation final again.

Farida Osman

Farida Osman

Photo Courtesy: Egypt Swimming Federation

The California sophomore has been on fire this season, winning a lot of her sprint freestyle races against some heavy competition, including nearly beating Manuel in the 50 free in a dual meet. Osman is primed to not only take a top-three finish in the 50 free, but is poised to score big in the 100 free. With Missy Franklin sitting out the 100 free this year, Osman will be the Golden Bears’ biggest hopes in that event.

Chantal Van Landeghem

Photo Courtesy: www.imagecommunications.ca

Photo Courtesy: www.imagecommunications.ca

Swimming in lane one in the 50 free final at last summer’s Pan Pacific championships, Van Landeghem won a bronze medal for Canada. The Georgia junior talked about taking that success to this collegiate season in a recent Morning Swim Show interview. That Pan Pac final also included Manuel and Martin, so Van Landeghem can use the confidence that she has beaten them before when the 50 free final starts in Greensboro in two weeks. Van Landeghem can also impress in the 100 free, and though she’s seeded ninth, I fully expect her to find her way into the championship final.

Faith Johnson


Photo Courtesy: Mike Comer and Shanda Crowe/ProSwimVisuals.com

Johnson has been a part of the 50 free final for the past two years, and should get into the top eight again. This year will be tougher to be a part of that prestigious field, but with two years of experience under her, Johnson knows what it takes to get into the championship heat. In 2013, Johnson finished third in the 50, and the Volunteers will be going crazy on the deck if she can get a “3” next to her name on the scoreboard again. It would be great to also see Johnson get a second swim in the 100 free after getting close in 2013 (20th place).

Maddie Locus

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Georgia has a great history in the 100 free that extends to winning multiple 400 free relay titles. Locus looks like a good bet to get into the 50 free final with teammate Van Landeghem, and both are so close in the 100 free. Locus is seeded 10th, and will need a major lifetime best in prelims to get into the championship final – and set Georgia up to contend in the 400 free relay as well.

Women’s NCAA Division I Championships Psych Sheet

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