6 Obviously-Wrong Predictions for Day Three at Women’s DI NCAA Swimming Championships

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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This year’s women’s NCAA championships – to be held this week beginning on Wednesday in Atlanta, Ga. – should feature a really tight team race that goes down to the wire on the final day. But while you pay attention to the team standings Friday watch out as well for some big-time records to be in jeopardy.

The American and NCAA record in the 200 free should be safe after Missy Franklin became the first woman under 1:40 at last season’s championships, but each other event on the slate could see some history made – including in one event in which the top time has stood for an amazing 14 years. Here’s what you should expect to go down.

400 IM

First: Ella Eastin, Stanford
Second: Madisyn Cox, Texas
Third: Bethany Galat, Texas A&M

While Eastin may face challengers in the 200 IM, the freshman should cruise to victory in the longer event. The battle for second should be wide open, though, with three of last year’s top four having graduated. Ohio State’s Lindsay Clary will be in the mix for a podium finish, as will Minnesota’s Brooke Zeiger and Tennessee’s Amanda Carner

100 fly

First: Kelsi Worrell, Louisville
Second: Farida Osman, Cal
Third: Kendyl Stewart, USC

The race for second should be wide open, but Worrell is the heavy favorite to earn a second-straight NCAA title and perhaps lower her NCAA and American record of 49.81 set last year; no one else has ever broken 50. Watch out for North Carolina’s Hellen Moffitt, who dropped a huge chunk of time as she moved into the all-time top-10 in this event at ACCs, as well as Stanford’s Janet Hu and Texas A&M’s Sarah Gibson. Two potential darkhorses could be Florida’s Natalie Hinds and Cal’s Rachel Bootsma, who is more of a backstroker but a threat here because of her underwater abilities.

200 free

First: Leah Smith, Virginia
Second: Lia Neal, Stanford
Third: Hali Flickinger, Georgia

“Leah” and “Lia” sound alike, but this race should be a clash of two very different styles: the sprinter Neal vs. the distance ace Smith. Flickinger gave up the 400 IM – in which she finished second last year – to concentrate on this race. Louisville freshman Mallory Comerford will be a big challenger here after she took down Smith at the ACC Championships, and USC’s Kirsten Vose is the newcomer on the scene after she posted a 1:43.20 at the Pac-12 championships. Don’t forget about Elizabeth Pelton or Chelsea Chenault, two veterans of U.S. national teams who should move up from outside the top-10.

100 breast

First: Lilly King, Indiana
Second: Sarah Haase, Stanford
Third: Andrea Cottrell, Louisville

New blood will be a theme in this event with five of eight finalists from last season having graduated. King will be the heavy favorite here after clocking 57.35 to win the Big-Ten title last month to move within 12 one-hundredths of the Breeja Larson’s American record. Virginia’s Laura Simon, the top returning finisher from last season aside from defending champion Haase, will be in the mix, along with King’s fellow Hoosier freshman Miranda Tucker and the Missouri duo of Katherine Ross and Abby Duncan.

100 back

First: Courtney Bartholomew, Virginia
Second: Rachel Bootsma, Cal
Third: Kathleen Baker, Cal

With three Cal athletes (including top-seeded Amy Bilquist) potentially swimming in the A-final, it would be only fitting for this to be the moment when the final record of a Golden Bear legend goes down. Natalie Coughlin swam a 49.97 to win the NCAA title in 2002, and that mark still stands as the only swim ever under 50 seconds. But Bartholomew (50.01) and Bootsma (50.03) rank second and third all-time, respectively, and the two longtime rivals will come up head-to-head once again in their senior season. The two should lead a very fast final as six swimmers have already broken 51 this season – including Kira Toussaint, Olivia Smoliga and Ally Howe.

200 medley relay

First: Stanford
Second: Louisville
Third: California

Stanford returns the same foursome that had the top time of the meet last season – Ally Howe, Sarah Haase, Janet Hu and Lia Neal – but they did so in the consolation final a season ago. They broke the American record in the event at the Pac-12 championships and will be heavily favored at the national level. A strong cast should make for an exciting battle for second – Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell and Andrea Cottrell, Cal’s Farida Osman and Rachel Bootsma, Tennessee’s Kira Toussaint and Faith Johnson, Virginia’s Courtney Bartholomew and Laura Simon and Indiana’s Lilly King.

Be sure to check out our predictions for Wednesday and Thursday’s races here, and come back Tuesday for a preview of the final day’s races and some insight on the team race.

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8 years ago

It seems unusual to note Amy Bilquist is the #1 seed in the 100 back and then not mention her again, either for a podium spot (where two of her Cal teammates are listed) or as part of a Medley relay. What did she do wrong?

David Rieder
David Rieder
8 years ago
Reply to  Dunc1952

No question that Bilquist is a contender in the 100 back, but I expect this race to come down to Bootsma and Bartholomew and wide open behind them. Not sure how much faster Bilquist can go than what she did at Pac-12s, and the two seniors have been right on the cusp of the 50-second barrier before. As for the relay, she will swim free I would guess – but Bootsma is one of the best 50 backstrokers in the world.

8 years ago
Reply to  David Rieder

It will be fun to watch.

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
8 years ago

What is the title of this article?

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