Leah Smith Posts Quick 500 Free in Prelims at ACC Championships

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The first full day of swimming at the women’s ACC championships at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta featured preliminary action in the 500 free, 200 IM and 50 free. Olympic gold medalist Leah Smith kicked off her individual slate for the meet with a top-seeded effort in the 500.

Smith won her heat in a time of 4:31.60. The time ranks second in the country this season behind Katie Ledecky (4:26.46) and puts Smith in position to go after some of her own records in the final. Smith owns the ACC record at 4:30.37, the meet record at 4:30.74 and the pool record at 4:31.33. That ACC record, set on her way to a win in the event at the 2015 NCAA championships, ranks Smith second all-time in the event behind Ledecky.

North Carolina State, the biggest rival to Virginia in the Cavaliers’ quest for a 10th-straight ACC title, put two swimmers in the A-final with Hannah Moore (second, 4:38.52) and Rachel Muller (fifth, 4:42.33). Virginia Tech’s Jessica Hespeler qualified third in 4:39.44, and Louisville’s Mallory Comerford earned lane six with her 4:41.02 in prelims.

North Carolina’s Macey Arnold (4:42.62), Pitt’s Amanda Richey (4:43.70) and UVA’s Cecelia Williams (4:46.12) also made the top eight.

NC State’s Alexia Zevnik posted a time of 1:55.85 for the top seed in the 200 IM, less than a second off Emma Reaney’s ACC record of 1:54.92 from 2014. Virginia swimmers qualified second and third with Jen Marrkand (1:56.30) and Kaitlyn Jones (1:56.34).

Virginia Tech put two swimmers in the final with Reka Gyorgy (1:57.85) and Fiona Donnelly (1:58.16), and Louisville got three up: Rachael Bradford-Feldman (1:57.97), Alina Kendzior (1:58.54) and Andrea Cottrell (1:58.60).

North Carolina’s Caroline Baldwin edged out NC State freshman Ky-Lee Perry for the rights to lane four in the 50 free, 21.78 to 21.80. Both swimmers went under the previous meet record of 21.85 set by Kelsi Worrell last season. Another Tar Heel, Sarah Hitchens, and another Wolfpack swimmer, Courtney Caldwell, tied for third in 21.99.

Virginia’s Caitlin Cooper finished fifth in 22.08, just ahead of Louisville’s Casey Fanz. After splitting 21.52 on Louisville’s 200 medley relay Mondyay night, Fanz dropped from an entry time of 22.64 to a 22.09 in prelims. NC State’s Natalie Labonge and UVA’s Ellen Thomas secured the outside lanes for the evening session.

Results from 1-meter diving will be added when that event is complete.

Click here for full results.

1 Comment

1 comment

  1. Shelby Bayne

    Quick…or ledecky quick???!

Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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