A Look at the Returning Scorers in the Division I NCAA Women’s Swimming Landscape

abbey-weitzeil-
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The 2019-20 NCAA Division I swimming and diving season is coming fast. There have been a lot of changes in the national landscape like there are with every year but with the Olympics coming up at the end of next summer, a lot of the top athletes elected to sit out this season to focus on long course training.

Swimming World has compiled all of the scorers from last year’s NCAA Championships and what each event will look like with this year’s returning swimmers.

Last year, one of the best classes of the decade graduated with the likes of Ella EastinLilly King and Mallory Comerford saying goodbye to college swimming. Those three, along with Ally McHugh, will not be back to defend their national titles.

This leaves the door wide open in a couple events, most notably the 100 and 200 breast, where a new champion will be crowned after King swept those two events each of the last four years. In the 200 free, the top three finishers will not be back this year with Comerford and Siobhan Haughey graduating and Taylor Ruck taking an Olympic redshirt.

Eastin has also exhausted her eligibility after sweeping the 400 IM titles the last four years, leaving the door wide open for Stanford teammate Brooke Forde or potentially Northwestern’s Calypso Sheridan.

Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson and USC’s Louise Hansson figure to rake up a lot of points for their respective schools as they all return with the target on their back this year, coming in as defending champions as well as Stanford’s Forde.

50 Free

abbey-weitzeil-womens-100-free-finals-2019-nationals

Abbey Weitzeil; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Cal senior Abbey Weitzeil won her first individual NCAA title last year after winning the 50 free. The only question for her left is can she break 21 seconds and be the first woman to do so? She was a 21.02 in winning in 2019 and will have a tough field with her with the likes of Tennessee’s Erika Brown, Arkansas’ Anna Hopkin and Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil.

Also not to be forgotten is Virginia freshman Kate Douglass, who would have placed in the A-Final with her best time of 21.67. The Cavaliers have a strong team brewing in Charlottesville and will be looking to become a top four team in the next few seasons.

  1. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal, 21.02
  2. Erika Brown, Tennessee, 21.23
  3. Mallory Comerford, Louisville, 21.49
  4. Maggie MacNeil, Michigan, 21.50
  5. Anna Hopkin, Arkansas, 21.51
  6. Amy Bilquist, Cal, 21.52
  7. Ky-Lee Perry, NC State, 21.57
  8. Kylee Alons, NC State, 21.89
  9. Maddie Murphy, Cal, 21.91
  10. Catie DeLoof, Michigan, 21.98
  11. Alyssa Marsh, Duke, 22.00
  12. Anya Goeders, Stanford, 22.07
  13. Morgan Hill, Virginia, 22.09
  14. Claire Fisch, Auburn, 22.12
  15. Julie Meynen, Auburn, 22.18
  16. Grace Ariola, Texas, 22.38

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Kate Douglass, Virginia, 21.67
  2. Ashley Turak, Indiana, 22.10

100 Free

anna-hopkin

Anna Hopkin; Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Arkansas’ Anna Hopkin is the top returner in the 100 free as she finished as the runner-up in one of the quickest A-Finals in history with five of the eight fastest performers all-time in the same heat. Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil was fourth in the final but showed a lot of courage after hyper extending her elbow the night before in the 200 medley relay. If Weitzeil is completely healthy, then she will be tough to beat. But Hopkin won’t go down easy after making her first World Championship final in the 50 free this past summer.

  1. Mallory Comerford, Louisville, 46.26
  2. Anna Hopkin, Arkansas, 46.56
  3. Siobhan Haughey, Michigan, 46.64
  4. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal, 46.97
  5. Erika Brown, Tennessee, 46.99
  6. Amy Bilquist, Cal, 47.42
  7. Ky-Lee Perry, NC State, 47.43
  8. Catie DeLoof, Michigan, 47.59
  9. Claire Fisch, Auburn, 47.78
  10. Annie Ochitwa, Missouri, 47.81
  11. Claire Adams, Texas, 47.91
  12. Veronica Burchill, Georgia, 48.03
  13. Amalie Fackenthal, Stanford, 48.23
  14. Robin Neumann, Cal, 48.24
  15. Morgan Hill, Virginia, 48.33
  16. Aly Tetzloff, Auburn, 48.38

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Kate Douglass, Virginia, 47.98
  2. Ayla Spitz, Cal, 48.63

200 Free

The 200 free is especially wide open this year with the top three finishers from last year out. Mallory Comerford and Siobhan Haughey have graduated and Taylor Ruck is taking an Olympic redshirt this season. That leaves Abbey Weitzeil as the top finisher from 2019 but Virginia’s Paige Madden had a breakout sophomore season last year and is looking to bring Virginia into the top four for the first time in school history.

  1. Mallory Comerford, Louisville, 1:40.26
  2. Taylor Ruck, Stanford, 1:40.37
  3. Siobhan Haughey, Michigan, 1:40.70
  4. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal, 1:42.29
  5. Paige Madden, Virginia, 1:43.03
  6. Catie DeLoof, Michigan, 1:43.17
  7. Katie McLaughlin, Cal, 1:43.53
  8. Robin Neumann, Cal, 1:43.72
  9. Lauren Pitzer, Stanford, 1:42.84
  10. Erin Falconer, Auburn, 1:43.60
  11. Cierra Runge, Arizona State, 1:43.76
  12. Kirsten Jacobsen, Arizona, 1:44.17
  13. Claire Rasmus, Texas A&M, 1:44.17
  14. Chantal Nack, Minnesota, 1:44.18
  15. Abigail Dolan, Notre Dame, 1:44.38
  16. Megan Moroney, Virginia, 1:45.03

Also added:

  1. Ayla Spitz, Cal, 1:45.02
  2. Kate Douglass, Virginia, 1:45.16

500 Free

brooke-forde-

Brooke Forde; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Brooke Forde had a nice coming out party in winning the 500 at NCAAs last year as a sophomore and now she returns as the heavy favorite to repeat. But like mentioned earlier, Virginia’s Madden is building off a summer where she won the silver in the 200 free at the World University Games with a 1:58.31 in long course. Michigan freshman Kaitlynn Sims could turn some heads in the distance events as she enters her first year under legendary distance coach Josh White.

  1. Brooke Forde, Stanford, 4:31.34
  2. Paige Madden, Virginia, 4:32.98
  3. Mackenzie Padington, Minnesota, 4:35.21
  4. Cierra Runge, Arizona State, 4:35.39
  5. Chantal Nack, Minnesota, 4:35.88
  6. Lauren Pitzer, Stanford, 4:36.57
  7. Evie Pfeifer, Texas, 4:37.09
  8. Courtney Harnish, Georgia, 4:37.61
  9. Hannah Cox, Arizona, 4:36.04
  10. Rose Bi, Michigan, 4:37.12
  11. Katie Drabot, Stanford, 4:37.87
  12. Kirsten Jacobsen, Arizona, 4:37.87
  13. Sierra Schmidt, Michigan, 4:37.99
  14. Morgan Tankersley, Stanford, 4:38.43
  15. Kate Moore, NC State, 4:39.45
  16. Joanna Evans, Texas, 4:43.42

Also added:

  1. Kaitlynn Sims, Michigan, 4:39.52
  2. Ellie Marquardt, Princeton, 4:42.09

1650 Free

Defending champion Ally McHugh is out this year, leaving the 1650 wide open. But the title may stay within the Big Ten as three of the four quickest returners comes from the conference with Ohio State’s Molly Kowal and Michigan’s Sierra Schmidt. However, Hawaii’s Phoebe Hines had the quickest best time of anyone returning this year but she swam that at the Art Adamson Invite in November. Hines was fifth in 2019 and it was the first time she ever swam at night at NCAAs, so will that experience propel her to a better performance in 2020?

  1. Ally McHugh, Penn State, 15:39.22
  2. Molly Kowal, Ohio State, 15:44.61
  3. Mackenzie Padington, Minnesota, 15:47.16
  4. Leah Stevens, Stanford, 15:47.31
  5. Phoebe Hines, Hawaii, 15:50.13
  6. Sierra Schmidt, Michigan, 15:50.19
  7. Kensey McMahon, Alabama, 15:53.18
  8. Cierra Runge, Arizona State, 15:53.72
  9. Emma Nordin, Arizona State, 15:54.83
  10. Rose Bi, Michigan, 15:55.89
  11. Geena Freriks, Kentucky, 15:57.64
  12. Cassy Jernberg, Indiana, 15:58.10
  13. Evie Pfeifer, Texas, 15:59.87
  14. Haley Yelle, Texas A&M, 16:01.01
  15. Emily Hetzer, Auburn, 16:01.33
  16. Megan Byrnes, Stanford, 16:03.64

Also added:

  1. Kaitlynn Sims, Michigan, 15:57.34
  2. Madelyn Donohoe, Virginia, 16:01.60

100 Back

beata-nelson-womens-100-fly-2019-usa-nationals-prelims-day-2-54

Beata Nelson; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson lowered the American record in 2019 and her best time is a second and a half quicker than anyone returning this year. Cal’s Izzy Ivey and Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil had stellar freshman seasons, so how will they come back for encores as sophomores? Not to be forgotten is NC State freshman Katharine Berkoff, whose best time put her in the A-Final last year. Berkoff gained valuable experience this past summer when she won the 100 back at the 2019 World University Games with a 59.2 in long course, which is faster than any current woman in college has swum. NC State has had a good track record of getting good recruits and making them even faster so that trend should continue with Berkoff, which could be dangerous for the rest of the nation.

  1. Beata Nelson, Wisconsin, 49.18, American record
  2. Amy Bilquist, Cal, 50.05
  3. Taylor Ruck, Stanford, 50.34
  4. Isabel Ivey, Cal, 50.42
  5. Asia Seidt, Kentucky, 50.68
  6. Maggie MacNeil, Michigan, 50.98
  7. Sherridon Dressel, Florida, 51.03
  8. Aly Tetzloff, Auburn, 51.33
  9. Keaton Blovad, Cal, 51.39
  10. Claire Adams, Texas, 51.43
  11. Lucie Nordmann, Stanford, 51.44
  12. Haley Hynes, Missouri, 51.60
  13. Alina Kendzior, Louisville, 51.72
  14. Erin Voss, Stanford, 51.87
  15. Julia Cook, Texas, 51.98
  16. Elise Haan, NC State, 52.07

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Katharine Berkoff, NC State, 50.72
  2. Caitlin Brooks, Kentucky, 52.26

200 Back

Last year’s 200 back A-Final featured zero seniors, with the exception of Taylor Ruck, who will be taking an Olympic redshirt season this year. That leaves the 200 back as one of the most anticipated events this year with Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson set to defend her title and Kentucky’s Asia Seidt looking to win her first individual title for the Wildcats as a senior. Wisconsin and Kentucky have not been known as traditional powerhouses in swimming but Nelson and Seidt have changed that in their careers, opening the door for their respective schools to step up their game in recruiting and relays. As of now, the title should come between those two with the addition of NC State’s Berkoff, who would have been fourth last year with her best time.

  1. Beata Nelson, Wisconsin, 1:47.24, NCAA record
  2. Taylor Ruck, Stanford, 1:47.59
  3. Asia Seidt, Kentucky, 1:48.65
  4. Erin Voss, Stanford, 1:50.92
  5. Lucie Nordmann, Stanford, 1:51.10
  6. Sonnele Oeztuerk, Auburn, 1:51.22
  7. Megan Moroney, Virginia, 1:51.28
  8. Ali Galyer, Kentucky, 1:51.62
  9. Meghan Small, Tennessee, 1:51.13
  10. Paige Madden, Virginia, 1:51.36
  11. Emma Seiberlich, Virginia, 1:52.14
  12. Chantal Nack, Minnesota, 1:52.34
  13. Kylee Alons, NC State, 1:52.34
  14. Keaton Blovad, Cal, 1:52.99
  15. Erin Falconer, Auburn, 1:53.00
  16. Alice Treuth, Notre Dame, 1:53.09

Also added:

  1. Katharine Berkoff, NC State, 1:50.13
  2. Caitlin Brooks, Kentucky, 1:53.89

100 Breast

sophie-hansson-

Sophie Hansson; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Four-time champ Lilly King is finally out of here, leaving the 100 breast title up for grabs. NC State’s Sophie Hansson is the top returner as she enters her sophomore season with the Wolfpack. Minnesota’s Lindsey Kozelsky will also be one to watch as she was second as a freshman in 2017, third as a sophomore in 2018 and fourth last year. Will she continue to trend downward or will she finally come out on top? Not to be forgotten is Michigan’s Miranda Tucker, who was second in both 2016 and 2018. And even though King has moved on, Indiana has a new breaststroker in tow in freshman Emily Weiss, who could very well continue the IU tradition in this event.

  1. Lilly King, Indiana, 55.73, American record
  2. Delaney Duncan, Eastern Michigan, 57.83
  3. Sophie Hansson, NC State, 57.90
  4. Lindsey Kozelsky, Minnesota, 58.09
  5. Ida Hulkko, Florida State, 58.58
  6. Alexis Wenger, Virginia, 58.64
  7. Miranda Tucker, Michigan, 58.83
  8. Ema Rajic, Cal, 59.43
  9. Klara Thormalm, San Diego State, 58.93
  10. Jamie Yeung, Michigan, 59.04
  11. Anna Belousova, Texas A&M, 59.09
  12. Rachel Munson, Minnesota, 59.40
  13. Silja Kansakoski, Arizona State, 59.43
  14. Nikol Popov, Tennessee, 59.59
  15. Justine MacFarlane, Alabama, 59.80
  16. Sophie Carnevale, Georgia, 59.83

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Emily Weiss, Indiana, 58.40
  2. Zoie Hartman, Georgia, 58.94
  3. Hannah Bach, Ohio State, 59.29

200 Breast

Much like the 100, the 200 breast is equally wide open with no Lilly King and no Sydney Pickrem. NC State’s Hansson is the top returner in the 200 as well, with Kentucky’s Bailey Bonnett and Indiana’s Noelle Peplowski in tow. The Hoosiers may have lost King but have two solid replacements in Peplowski and freshman Emily Weiss, who have national title potential in both the 200 and 100 respectively if they can replicate what they did last year.

Texas A&M’s Anna Belousova was a 2:04 at SEC’s last year which is much quicker than Hansson’s 2:06, but she went 2.5 seconds slower at NCAAs. In fact, Belousova has gone quicker at SEC’s each of the last two seasons which should be a source of motivation for her in her junior season.

Georgia’s Zoie Hartman and Virginia’s Ella Nelson were both 2:07’s last year and will be interesting dark horse picks in their freshmen seasons.

  1. Lilly King, Indiana, 2:02.90
  2. Sydney Pickrem, Texas A&M, 2:03.65
  3. Sophie Hansson, NC State, 2:06.18
  4. Emma Barksdale, South Carolina, 2:06.87
  5. Bailey Bonnett, Kentucky, 2:06.91
  6. Noelle Peplowski, Indiana, 2:06.94
  7. Anna Belousova, Texas A&M, 2:07.05
  8. Kaki Christensen, Virginia, 2:08.74
  9. Allie Raab, Stanford, 2:06.85
  10. Lindsey Kozelsky, Minnesota, 2:07.77
  11. Zoe Bartel, Stanford, 2:08.27
  12. Margaret Higgs, South Carolina, 2:08.86
  13. Kirsten Vose, Southern Cal, 2:08.87
  14. Laura Morley, Indiana, 2:09.00
  15. Grace Zhao, Stanford, 2:09.32
  16. Lauren Barber, Navy, 2:09.39

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Zoie Hartman, Georgia, 2:07.52
  2. Ella Nelson, Virginia, 2:07.59

100 Fly

Louise-Hansson-200-Fly-Pac-12

Louise Hansson; Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

One of the most anticipated matchups of the NCAAs this year should be NCAA record holder Louise Hansson and reigning World Champion Maggie MacNeil in the 100 butterfly. Hansson got the better of MacNeil last year but it was the latter that shocked everyone in winning the World title this past summer. Hansson will be looking to win her third straight title while MacNeil will be looking for her first. Tennessee’s Erika Brown will also factor into the top three as she was a 49.8 at SEC’s last season. If all three women are on point in Athens next year, then it could very well take a 48 to win.

  1. Louise Hansson, Southern Cal, 49.26, NCAA record
  2. Maggie MacNeil, Michigan, 49.66
  3. Katie McLaughlin, Cal, 49.97
  4. Erika Brown, Tennessee, 50.38
  5. Aly Tetzloff, Auburn, 50.61
  6. Isabel Ivey, Cal, 50.82
  7. Morgan Hill, Virginia, 50.84
  8. Grace Oglesby, Louisville, 51.10
  9. Annie Ochitwa, Missouri, 51.47
  10. Alyssa Marsh, Duke, 51.72
  11. Sarah Watson, Akron, 51.73
  12. Olivia Carter, Georgia, 51.77
  13. Kylie Jordan, Duke, 51.86
  14. Mackenzie Rumrill, Arizona, 51.99
  15. Maddie Murphy, Cal, 52.12
  16. Christie Jensen, Indiana, 52.20

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Kate Douglass, Virginia, 51.74
  2. Lexi Cuomo, Virginia, 52.01

200 Fly

USC’s Hansson won her first 200 fly NCAA title last year in upsetting two-time champ Ella Eastin of Stanford. Hansson returns with the target on her back this year and if she is upstaged, it could potentially be by Louisville’s Grace Oglesby or Stanford’s Katie Drabot. It is hard to call Drabot an underdog after winning the bronze medal in this event at the World Championships but she had a disappointing junior season after getting second in 2018. If last year was a fluke, then Drabot is definitely a favorite to take down Hansson, but she doesn’t quite have the short course pedigree like her Pac-12 rival.

Louisville’s Oglesby had a great 200 fly last year, coming on strong to finish third last season. Another 25 and she might have out-touched Hansson in winning the gold. Now in her senior year, she will be looking to keep Louisville in the top four for the second straight season.

  1. Louise Hansson, Southern Cal, 1:50.28
  2. Ella Eastin, Stanford, 1:50.46
  3. Grace Oglesby, Louisville, 1:50.80
  4. Katie McLaughlin, Cal, 1:51.09
  5. Katie Drabot, Stanford, 1:51.94
  6. Madison Wright, Southern Cal, 1:52.26
  7. Olivia Carter, Georgia, 1:53.06
  8. Jing Quah, Texas A&M, 1:53.61
  9. Dakota Luther, Georgia, 1:52.99
  10. Brooke Forde, Stanford, 1:53.93
  11. Taylor Pike, Texas A&M, 1:54.33
  12. Kathrin Demler, Ohio State, 1:55.06
  13. Courtney Harnish, Georgia, 1:55.07
  14. Alena Kraus, Louisville, 1:55.34
  15. Cassidy Bayer, Cal, 1:55.77
  16. Nicole Smith, Notre Dame, 1:56.48

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Zephy Koh, Princeton, 1:54.68
  2. Elizabeth Vannote, North Carolina, 1:56.10

200 IM

Half of last year’s 200 IM A-Final has graduated. This was the event Beata Nelson made a name for herself last year, winning Wisconsin’s second national title in women’s swimming by upsetting record holder Ella Eastin. Nelson moved up to second all-time with that swim as a junior, so what does she have for an encore in her senior year? Is anyone capable of upsetting her? USC’s Louise Hansson is next in line but Tennessee’s Meghan Small was a 1:51 at SEC’s, much quicker compared to her 1:53.5 from NCAAs. If Small can replicate her SEC swim, then she would be a popular upset pick, but right now this looks to be Nelson’s to lose.

  1. Beata Nelson, Wisconsin, 1:50.79
  2. Ella Eastin, Stanford, 1:51.81
  3. Sydney Pickrem, Texas A&M, 1:51.84
  4. Louise Hansson, Southern Cal, 1:52.14
  5. Emma Barksdale, South Carolina, 1:53.54
  6. Asia Seidt, Kentucky, 1:53.54
  7. Meghan Small, Tennessee, 1:53.57
  8. Bailey Andison, Indiana, 1:54.17
  9. Isabel Ivey, Cal, 1:53.87
  10. Bailey Nero, Auburn, 1:55.40
  11. Keaton Blovad, Cal, 1:55.46
  12. Abby Richter, Virginia, 1:56.01
  13. Tess Cieplucha, Tennessee, 1:56.33
  14. Julia Poole, NC State, 1:56.45
  15. Vanessa Pearl, Florida, 1:56.95
  16. Monika Gonzalez-Hermosillo, Texas A&M, 1:58.68

Top incoming freshmen:

  1. Zoie Hartman, Georgia, 1:54.62
  2. Kate Douglass, Virginia, 1:56.09

400 IM

Four-time 400 IM champion Ella Eastin has moved on and so has runner-up Sydney Pickrem. That leaves Brooke Forde of Stanford as the national title favorite. Forde seems to perform well under pressure, having anchored Stanford’s 800 free relay last year and perfectly pacing a 500 free to a title last year. But now with the target on her back, how will she react? Out of all the women in the NCAA, Forde is the only one to break 4:00 and she has done that the last two years so she will be tough to beat.

Northwestern’s Calypso Sheridan will be a popular upset pick if she continues to swim the way she did last year, having placed fourth in this event. The Wildcat from Australia dropped eight seconds off her best time last year so the question is what does she have up her sleeve as an encore?

  1. Ella Eastin, Stanford, 3:57.03
  2. Sydney Pickrem, Texas A&M, 3:58.23
  3. Brooke Forde, Stanford, 3:59.26
  4. Calypso Sheridan, Northwestern, 4:01.35
  5. Emma Barksdale, South Carolina, 4:03.51
  6. Bailey Andison, Indiana, 4:03.87
  7. Allie Raab, Stanford, 4:06.11
  8. Kelly Fertel, Florida, 4:09.92
  9. Tess Cieplucha, Tennessee, 4:04.48
  10. Ally McHugh, Penn State, 4:05.78
  11. Makayla Sargent, NC State, 4:05.81
  12. Reka Gyorgy, Virginia Tech, 4:06.28
  13. Mackenzie Looze, Indiana, 4:07.96
  14. Katie Trace, Ohio State, 4:08.20
  15. Sinclair Larson, Tennessee, 4:08.43
  16. Monika Gonzalez-Hermosillo, Texas A&M, 4:11.93

Also added:

  1. Sarah Darcel, Cal, 4:05.55
  2. Ella Nelson, Virginia, 4:10.10

4 comments

  1. avatar
    Bob Foster

    Maddie Donohoe (Fresh) from Virginia has been 16:01 in the 1650.

    • avatar
      Andy Ross

      good catch! I was only looking at best times from 2018-19 year.

  2. avatar
    Karin

    Mackenzie padington will be out of the mix as well

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.