Honoring & Celebrating the NCAA Women’s Swimming Senior Class of 2020

Beata Nelson
Beata Nelson when she committed to the University of Wisconsin. Photo Courtesy: Loree Nelson

Swimming World celebrates the NCAA women’s swimming senior class of 2020.

The cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships caused many careers of senior student athletes to go unfinished as a lot of swimmers will have an asterisk next to their names in the history books due to the fact they could not end their careers on their own terms. A disease pandemic cancelling an NCAA championships is unheard of, especially in this modern world. So having no NCAAs this season was a huge blow to fans of the sport of swimming as well as the athletes that worked so hard to finish their amateur careers this year.

We at Swimming World wanted to honor this year’s senior class by applauding their accomplishments in the pool as well as revisit their commitments from their various schools.

Rather than play a “what-if” game, we wanted to acknowledge the achievements these various seniors accomplished in their three full seasons.

Celebrating the NCAA Women’s Swimming Class of 2020

First up is Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson. She was Swimming World’s High School Swimmer of the Year in 2016 and became the most decorated swimmer in Wisconsin history in winning three individual titles in 2019. A native of Madison, Nelson was a home grown Badger and helped make Wisconsin one of the elite powers in the Big Ten.

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Beata Nelson in high school. Photo Courtesy: Jessi Schoville

“I always thought I would go somewhere else,” Nelson said of the University of Wisconsin. “I ended up where I belonged, but it is definitely full circle realizing how many people saw the journey unfold right in front of them. My club coach was there. I had family and friends that were there. It was crazy to see how much love and support followed me,” she said. “Senior day was great. We knew it was going to be a tough meet. I enjoyed the day so much. It’s crazy being back at the Nat instead of our new facility. That was super nostalgic for me swimming there growing up.”

Fellow Wisconsin native Katie Drabot chose to go west and swim for Stanford University. One of the most versatile swimmers in the class of 2016, she joined a stacked Stanford team in the fall of 2016 with all the momentum going its way. Drabot helped the Cardinal win three NCAA team titles and never lost a duel meet in her four year career. Although she never did win an individual NCAA title, she was able to celebrate three relay titles, including the 800 free relay her sophomore and junior year.

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Katie Drabot in high school. Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Arguably the most successful swimmer in this year’s NCAA women’s swimming senior class was Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil. She originally deferred her enrollment in the fall of 2015 to Berkeley so she could fully focus on swimming with her club coach Coley Stickels to try and make the 2016 Olympic team. She was successful, reaching the final of the 100 freestyle in Rio, giving her a lot of momentum heading into college. But Weitzeil struggled in her first two years with the Golden Bears. She was overshadowed by fellow Olympian Simone Manuel of Stanford and didn’t win an individual title in 2017 or 2018.

But in her junior season, she blossomed into the star she was expected to be. At the 2019 NCAAs, she won three national titles in one night, setting American records in the individual 5o free and 200 free relay, as well as anchoring the victorious 400 medley relay. A dislocated elbow robbed fans of a healthy Weitzeil in the 100 free final, where some believe she could have chased Manuel’s American record and broken 46 seconds.

In her senior season, she became the first woman to break 21 seconds from a flat start at the Minnesota invitational in December, and again had a chance to take down the 100 free record at NCAAs as well as a potential third title in the 200.

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Abbey Weitzeil at the Olympic Trials. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Weitzeil recently received the Honda Award and has also been named a finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the country.

Then there is USC’s Louise Hansson, who was the top butterflyer in the NCAA women’s swimming senior class of 2020. She represented Sweden at the 2016 Olympics where she was 32nd in the 100 butterfly and swam on all three of Sweden’s relays, two of which made the final. After Rio, she moved to Los Angeles to start her new life in the United States. She quickly adjusted to short course yards and won three NCAA titles in three seasons with the Trojans.

“I would say that moving here and swimming in college has probably been the best thing I have ever chosen to do because I’ve grown so much as a person.” A moment later, she added, “But as a swimmer, I’ve grown even more.”

She was the second woman to break 50 seconds in the 100 butterfly in yards and is currently tied for number one all-time in that event. Her short course prowess has helped her in long course as she has an outside shot at a medal in 2021 in the 100 butterfly, reaching the final at the World Championships this past summer for the first time in her career.

Weitzeil and Hansson have been so good, that they have left some pretty dominant swimmers Erika Brown and Anna Hopkin off the top of the podium at the NCAA championships. Brown helped Tennessee win the 200 medley relay in her junior year, but had not been an individual champion in her time with the Vols.

Although she had a promising senior year NCAAs ahead of her, we will celebrate Brown for what she did do. She helped Tennessee win its first ever SEC women’s team title in 2020 and also was the SEC swimmer of the year in her junior and senior seasons.

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Erika Brown in high school. Photo Courtesy: Donna Nelson

Brown is in the top three all-time in the 50 & 100 free (2nd) and the 100 fly (3rd) and will be regarded as one of the best swimmers to never win an individual NCAA title.

Hopkin was just at Arkansas for two seasons as she was getting her Masters degree but she had a successful career for the Razorbacks in the short period. She is fourth all-time in the 50 free and third all-time in the 100 and also added a strong 200 free to her repertoire this season. Like Hansson, swimming yards in the United States helped her become a better long course swimmer on the international stage while representing Great Britain. At the 2019 Worlds, she reached her first major final in the 50 freestyle and could also play a big role in British relays in Tokyo if she is to make her first Olympic team.

“When I started in the US, I chatted with Neil and he gave me a check list I wanted to work on,” Hopkin said. “A lot of it was stretching out my stroke and lengthening everything out which is obviously good for long course. And so we always had the long course season in mind throughout the entire time being here.

“The end goal is to be good long course. I think we just never let that get out of our minds. My turns and breakouts, all the little things have improved which have been applied to long course as well. It’s just an accumulation of things, I think.”

Jul 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Meghan Small of the United States in the women’s 200m breaststroke final b during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Meghan Small at the 2015 Pan American Games. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

Brown’s Tennessee teammate Meghan Small also played a big role in Tennessee’s rise to a national title contender this season. Small swam at the 2015 Pan American Games for the United States and was also a member of Tennessee’s national championship 200 medley relay team last season. She came in as the top IM’er in the class out of high school and although she never won an individual title, she provided a huge boost for Tennessee in her career.

Small was one of the unsung heroes in this NCAA women’s swimming senior class of 2020, scoring seven gold medals at SECs across her four years, including three 200 IM titles in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

The top breaststrokers in this senior class were Michigan’s Miranda Tucker and Minnesota’s Lindsey Kozelsky. Tucker was originally apart of the high school class of 2015 when she signed on to swim at Indiana, including finishing second in the 200 breast at NCAAs and third in the 100 behind American record holder Lilly King. Ultimately, Tucker left Indiana to be closer to home and joined a strong Michigan team that finished top four nationally in 2018 & 19 in historic back-to-back seasons. Tucker never did win an individual NCAA title, but she won four Big Ten titles including her one and only individual title coming in her senior year in 2020.

Kozelsky was there with Tucker stroke for stroke in their years battling in the Big Ten and at NCAAs. Kozelsky, a native of Minnesota, joined the Gophers after coming off a successful high school career where she was the national high school record holder in the 100 breast at 58.56. That has ultimately been broken by Kaitlyn Dobler this season, but Kozelsky had a good career in her home state Minnesota. She is 11th all-time in the 100 breaststroke and also swam in three 100 breast A-Finals in her NCAA career.

One of the more underrated swimmers in the NCAA women’s swimming senior class of 2020 was Kentucky’s Asia Seidt. She was another swimmer who stayed close to home as the Louisville native went down the road to Lexington to join the Wildcats. She helped Kentucky reach as high as third at the SEC Championships in 2017 and 2019, their highest finish since 1999, and won four individual SEC titles in her career.

Swimming World wanted to throw it back to when this year’s seniors announced their verbal commitments as well as highlight some of their best accomplishments in the pool over the last four years.

Here are all the seniors that qualified for the women’s NCAAs in 2020:

  1. Alexis Preski – Alabama
  2. Alexandria Surrency – Alabama
  3. Hannah Cox – Arizona
  4. Kirsten Jacobsen – Arizona
  5. Mallory Korenwinder – Arizona
  6. Allyson Macias Alba – Arizona
  7. Kendall Dawson – Arizona State
  8. Silja Kansakoski – Arizona State
  9. Cierra Runge – Arizona State
  10. Anna Hopkin – Arkansas
  11. Robyn Clevenger – Auburn
  12. Claire Fisch – Auburn
  13. Julie Meynen – Auburn
  14. Keaton Blovad – California
  15. Maddie Murphy – California
  16. Courtney Mykkanen – California
  17. Abbey Weitzeil – California
  18. Kylie Jordan – Duke
  19. Alyssa Marsh – Duke
  20. Emma Ball – Florida
  21. Sherridon Dressel – Florida
  22. Savanna Faulconer – Florida
  23. Kelly Fertel – Florida
  24. Isabella Garofalo – Florida
  25. Veronica Burchill – Georgia
  26. Sofia Carnevale – Georgia
  27. Mikki Dahlke – Harvard
  28. Phoebe Hines – Hawaii
  29. Zarena Brown – Houston
  30. Peyton Kondis – Houston
  31. Laura Laderoute – Houston
  32. Maria Heitmann – Indiana
  33. Cassy Jernberg – Indiana
  34. Hannah Burvill – Iowa
  35. Bonnie Zhang – James Madison
  36. Ali Galyer – Kentucky
  37. Asia Seidt – Kentucky
  38. Sophie Cattermole – Louisville
  39. Casey Fanz – Louisville
  40. Grace Oglesby – Louisville
  41. Lainey Visscher – Louisville
  42. Chloe Hicks – Michigan
  43. Vanessa Krause – Michigan
  44. Miranda Tucker – Michigan
  45. Lindsey Kozelsky – Minnesota
  46. Tevyn Waddell – Minnesota
  47. Jennifer King – Missouri
  48. Mackenzie Glover – NC State
  49. Ky-Lee Perry – NC State
  50. Makayla Sargent – NC State
  51. Bryanna Cameron – North Carolina
  52. Megan Clark – Northeastern
  53. Krystal Lara – Northwestern
  54. Abigail Dolan – Notre Dame
  55. Rebekah Bradley – Ohio State
  56. Kathrin Demler – Ohio State
  57. Molly Kowal – Ohio State
  58. Madison Hart – Penn State
  59. Morganne McKennan – San Diego State
  60. Courtney Vincent – San Diego State
  61. Erin Trahan – SMU
  62. Emily Cornell – South Carolina
  63. Margaret Higgs – South Carolina
  64. Christina Lappin – South Carolina
  65. Louise Hansson – Southern Cal
  66. Catherine Sanchez – Southern Cal
  67. Tatum Wade – Southern Cal
  68. Katie Drabot – Stanford
  69. Allie Szekely – Stanford
  70. Erin Voss – Stanford
  71. Erika Brown – Tennessee
  72. Tess Cieplucha – Tennessee
  73. Stanzi Moseley – Tennessee
  74. Meghan Small – Tennessee
  75. Claire Adams – Texas
  76. Anna Belousova – Texas A&M
  77. Raena Eldridge – Texas A&M
  78. Karling Hemstreet – Texas A&M
  79. Katie Portz – Texas A&M
  80. Olivia Johnson – Tulane
  81. Kenisha Liu – UCLA
  82. Amy Okada – UCLA
  83. Morgan Hill – Virginia
  84. Megan Moroney – Virginia
  85. Beata Nelson – Wisconsin

Beata Nelson

NCAA Titles: 3

Abbey Weitzeil

NCAA Titles: 5

Louise Hansson

NCAA Titles: 3

Erika Brown

NCAA Titles: 1

  • 2019: 200 medley relay
  • 50 free: 2nd all-time
  • 100 fly: 3rd all-time
  • 100 free: 2nd all-time

Asia Seidt

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Titles: 0

  • 200 IM: 18th all-time
  • 100 back: 24th all-time
  • 200 back: 10th all-time

Meghan Small

Jul 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Meghan Small of the United States competes in the women's 200m breaststroke preliminary heat during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

NCAA Titles: 1

Katie Drabot

NCAA Titles: 3

Grace Oglesby

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Photo Courtesy:

NCAA Titles: 0

  • 200 fly: 5th all-time

Anna Hopkin

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Oh… I think we lost some letters #GOHOGS ❣️

A post shared by Anna Hopkin (@anna_hopkin) on

NCAA Titles: 0

  • 50 free: 4th all-time
  • 100 free: 3rd all-time
  • 200 free: 17th all-time

Miranda Tucker

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Titles: 0

  • 100 breast: 13th all-time
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