NCAA Women’s Championships: Taylor Ruck Wins Duel With Isabel Ivey in 200 Free; Lia Thomas Finishes Fifth

Taylor Ruck -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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NCAA Women’s Championships: Taylor Ruck Wins Duel With Isabel Ivey in 200 Free; Lia Thomas Finishes Fifth

With the focus on transgender swimmer Lia Thomas aiming to add the 200 freestyle NCAA title to the 500 free title she won Thursday, but Stanford’s Taylor Ruck had other plans. The two-time Olympian for Canada who returned to Stanford this season after a two-year hiatus was the leader from the start, and even though Cal’s Isabel Ivey stayed close to Ruck for the entire race, she could never get past Ruck.

Ruck finished in 1:41.12, just ahead of Ivey’s 1:41.59. This was Ruck’s first individual NCAA title, and immediately after the race, she was mobbed by a group of her Stanford teammates behind the blocks as she climbed out of the pool. Ruck was less than a second off her best time of 1:40.37, which ties her with former Stanford star Simone Manuel as the fourth-fastest swimmer in history.

“It was quite the few minutes,” Ruck said. “I was pretty nervous before, like every race. I just tried to think of what I did in prelims and try to top it. I tried to do my race strategy, do my breathing before and try not to let the nerves overcome me. And then just race my race. I think that was one of my favorites races I’ve ever done, just with the crowd and my teammates after hugging me. It’s going in the memory books.”

Third went to Texas’ Kelly Pash in 1:42.38, matching her finish from last year despite swimming almost a second faster, and Stanford freshman Lillie Nordmann took fourth in 1:42.63 after swimming a huge best time in prelims just to qualify for the final.

Thomas, meanwhile, finished tied fifth with Kentucky’s Riley Gaines in 1:43.40, well off her prelims time of 1:42.09 and her season-best mark of 1:41.93. Thomas was in seventh place at the halfway point, but she has been accustomed to taking races out slowly before turning on the gas at the end. Her 100-yard split of 50.34 was actually much quicker than her halfway time of 50.87 in prelims. But after Thomas split 25-mid efforts on the third and fourth 50s in prelims, she was almost a second slower on each of those splits in the final.

The Penn senior managed to pass USC’s Laticia Transom and pull even with Gaines on the last 50, but it was not nearly enough to close the massive gap that Ruck and Ivey had built on the field over the first 150 yards.

Asked about racing Thomas amid the ongoing controversy about her inclusion at the NCAA Championships, Ruck handled the question deftly.

“Honestly, I just came into this meet just wanting to focus on my own performances,” Ruck said. “I know there is a bit of chatter about Lia being here. Usually, I just try to zone everything out and focus on what I can do to be the best I can be every day. Coming into this, I was just thinking, ‘Competition is competition.’ I was just excited to race someone who’s really fast.”

Event 10  Women 200 Yard Freestyle
         NCAA: N 1:39.10  3/20/2015 Missy Franklin, California
         Meet: M 1:39.10  3/20/2015 Missy Franklin, California
     American: A 1:39.10  3/20/2015 Missy Franklin, California
      US Open: O 1:39.10  3/20/2015 Missy Franklin, California
         Pool: P 1:41.35  3/16/2022 Isabel Ivey, California
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
                       === Championship Final ===                        
  1 Ruck, Taylor           JR Stanford          1:41.89    1:41.12P  20  
    r:+0.66  23.23        48.83 (25.60)
        1:14.69 (25.86)     1:41.12 (26.43)
  2 Ivey, Isabel           SR California        1:42.24    1:41.59   17  
    r:+0.70  23.51        49.05 (25.54)
        1:15.02 (25.97)     1:41.59 (26.57)
  3 Pash, Kelly            JR Texas             1:42.78    1:42.38   16  
    r:+0.68  23.92        49.76 (25.84)
        1:15.73 (25.97)     1:42.38 (26.65)
  4 Nordmann, Lillie       FR Stanford          1:43.02    1:42.63   15  
    r:+0.64  24.10        50.20 (26.10)
        1:16.36 (26.16)     1:42.63 (26.27)
  5 Thomas, Lia            5Y Penn              1:42.09    1:43.40   13.5
    r:+0.75  24.34        50.34 (26.00)
        1:16.76 (26.42)     1:43.40 (26.64)
  5 Gaines, Riley          SR Kentucky          1:43.05    1:43.40   13.5
    r:+0.65  24.04        49.77 (25.73)
        1:16.03 (26.26)     1:43.40 (27.37)
  7 Transom, Laticia-Leig  SR USC               1:42.93    1:43.49   12  
    r:+0.72  23.84        49.60 (25.76)
        1:16.18 (26.58)     1:43.49 (27.31)
  8 Tankersley, Morgan     SR Stanford          1:43.53    1:43.78   11  
    r:+0.67  24.61        50.75 (26.14)
        1:17.23 (26.48)     1:43.78 (26.55)
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2 years ago

I bet “Lia” sandbagged her 200 swim. All the heat he got from winning the 500 might be getting to him. One more day and he’ll be through, then on to TV shows like Oprah, Ellen, 60 minutes etc. and then the made for TV movie and book deals. It’s all about the $$$$.

Em Em
Em Em
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy

HIS swim, but I agree with you, Billy. He could have won that race with one leg tied to his head.
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy


Terry Watts
Terry Watts
2 years ago

But the unfair physical advantage!

2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Watts

Exactly. Lia lost fair and square. Funny how the pearl clutches are quiet because they swore women’s swimming was ending because Lia was swimming. Notice they’re quiet when the transgender man on the Yale team swims with the women’s team and wins, which he has when he beat Lia.

2 years ago
Reply to  Febwitch76

Lia loafed his 200 swim. It was obvious.

Em Em
Em Em
2 years ago
Reply to  Febwitch76

OMG – in the video of the 500 Free it didn’t even look like he was kicking.

Have any of the people crowing over Lia coming in 5th ever been a competitive swimmer?

There is no friggin’ way this man should have come in 5th unless he was “swimming” the same way I “swim” when I’m “racing” my 2-year-old niece.

Rush Limbaugh IV
Rush Limbaugh IV
2 years ago

And that’s why black people don’t swim, because physics…

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