Paige Madden Turns on Jets to Win First Individual NCAA Title in 500 Freestyle

paige-madden
Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

In a race that was dubbed fairly pedestrian this morning after it took a 4:40 to make the A-Final of the 500 freestyle at NCAAs and a 4:43 to get a second swim, it was a 1-2-3 sweep by three of the toughest women in the entire NCAA championships with Virginia’s Paige Madden leading from the outset at 4:33.61.

Distance specialists Evie Pfeifer of Texas (4:35.02) and Brooke Forde of Stanford (4:35.22) gave Madden all she could handle, flipping even with her at the 200 with Madden’s 1:47.44 to Pfeifer’s 1:47.86 and Forde’s 1:48.64. But Madden turned it on on the back half with 27-mids the rest of the way (albeit her 28.0 penultimate 50) and won with a 4:33.61. The time is not a best for Madden, who was a 4:32.98 at NCAAs two years ago when Forde won the NCAA title as those two have been on a collision course, missing out on last year’s meet, for this year in the 500. Madden and Pfeifer will lock horns on Saturday in the 1650 freestyle.

“It feels great. I have been working (toward) it for the past two years, ever since I finished second. It is definitely a good feeling,” Paige Madden said after the race. “I just wanted to do it for my team. After we got second in the relay, I wanted to hype us up a little big more. I wanted to be aggressive in the first half.”

There were six total seniors in this field as the experience really showed out for this field with Michigan’s Sierra Schmidt (4:39.30) placing in fourth after qualifying for the final from heat 1. NC State’s Kate Moore (4:39.71) and Georgia’s Courtney Harnish (4:41.33) also swam in the championship final as seniors as they both added from their conference times.

Cal’s Alya Spitz (4:39.70) and Ohio State’s Sally Tafuto (4:40.29) also swam in the championship final in fifth and seventh place, respectively.

Virginia has now won three NCAA titles in the 500 freestyle after Paige Madden won, and six overall national titles in swimming and diving, as that number should definitely grow by the end of tonight and the rest of the weekend. Madden joins Leah Smith (2015, 2016) as winners of the 500 freestyle for Virginia.

 Event 3  Women 500 Yard Freestyle
=========================================================================
         NCAA: N 4:24.06  3/16/2017 Katie Ledecky, Stanford
         Meet: M 4:24.06  3/16/2017 Katie Ledecky, Stanford
     American: A 4:24.06  3/16/2017 Katie Ledecky, Stanford
      US Open: O 4:24.06  3/16/2017 Katie Ledecky, Stanford
         Pool: P 4:29.54  12/4/2014 Katie Ledecky, NCAP
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
=========================================================================
                       === Championship Final ===                        
 
  1 Madden, Paige          SR Virginia          4:35.07    4:33.61   20  
    r:+0.72  25.13        52.30 (27.17)
        1:19.73 (27.43)     1:47.44 (27.71)
        2:15.28 (27.84)     2:42.81 (27.53)
        3:10.26 (27.45)     3:37.85 (27.59)
        4:05.91 (28.06)     4:33.61 (27.70)
  2 Pfeifer, Evie          SR Texas             4:38.18    4:35.02   17  
    r:+0.76  25.61        52.79 (27.18)
        1:20.27 (27.48)     1:47.86 (27.59)
        2:15.69 (27.83)     2:43.50 (27.81)
        3:11.46 (27.96)     3:39.49 (28.03)
        4:07.49 (28.00)     4:35.02 (27.53)
  3 Forde, Brooke          SR Stanford          4:37.49    4:35.22   16  
    r:+0.71  25.73        53.27 (27.54)
        1:20.96 (27.69)     1:48.64 (27.68)
        2:16.43 (27.79)     2:44.32 (27.89)
        3:12.03 (27.71)     3:40.09 (28.06)
        4:07.87 (27.78)     4:35.22 (27.35)
  4 Schmidt, Sierra        SR Michigan          4:40.00    4:39.30   15  
    r:+0.80  25.97        53.62 (27.65)
        1:21.62 (28.00)     1:49.85 (28.23)
        2:18.02 (28.17)     2:46.32 (28.30)
        3:14.65 (28.33)     3:43.15 (28.50)
        4:11.58 (28.43)     4:39.30 (27.72)
  5 Spitz, Ayla            SO California        4:40.15    4:39.70   14  
    r:+0.74  25.79        53.71 (27.92)
        1:21.79 (28.08)     1:50.10 (28.31)
        2:18.61 (28.51)     2:47.10 (28.49)
        3:15.38 (28.28)     3:43.92 (28.54)
        4:12.12 (28.20)     4:39.70 (27.58)
  6 Moore, Kate            SR NC State          4:40.13    4:39.71   13  
    r:+0.69  25.64        53.42 (27.78)
        1:21.47 (28.05)     1:49.84 (28.37)
        2:18.27 (28.43)     2:46.83 (28.56)
        3:15.52 (28.69)     3:44.27 (28.75)
        4:12.58 (28.31)     4:39.71 (27.13)
  7 Tafuto, Sally          JR Ohio St           4:40.70    4:40.29   12  
    r:+0.76  26.27        54.00 (27.73)
        1:22.10 (28.10)     1:50.48 (28.38)
        2:19.03 (28.55)     2:47.48 (28.45)
        3:15.82 (28.34)     3:44.47 (28.65)
        4:12.79 (28.32)     4:40.29 (27.50)
  8 Harnish, Courtney      SR Georgia           4:40.72    4:41.33   11  
    r:+0.79  25.94        53.70 (27.76)
        1:21.99 (28.29)     1:50.30 (28.31)
        2:18.81 (28.51)     2:47.43 (28.62)
        3:15.91 (28.48)     3:44.62 (28.71)
        4:13.15 (28.53)     4:41.33 (28.18)
 
                        === Consolation Final ===                        
 
  9 Stege, Kristen         SO Tennessee         4:41.40    4:39.89    9  
    r:+0.79  25.49        53.05 (27.56)
        1:21.44 (28.39)     1:49.96 (28.52)
        2:18.44 (28.48)     2:46.97 (28.53)
        3:15.65 (28.68)     3:44.31 (28.66)
        4:12.84 (28.53)     4:39.89 (27.05)
 10 McMahon, Kensey        JR Alabama           4:41.99    4:39.98    7  
    r:+0.73  26.12        53.78 (27.66)
        1:21.75 (27.97)     1:49.88 (28.13)
        2:18.17 (28.29)     2:46.66 (28.49)
        3:15.14 (28.48)     3:43.88 (28.74)
        4:12.59 (28.71)     4:39.98 (27.39)
 11 Mathieu, Tylor         SO Florida           4:42.89    4:40.34    6  
    r:+0.74  26.05        53.89 (27.84)
        1:22.06 (28.17)     1:50.49 (28.43)
        2:19.08 (28.59)     2:47.61 (28.53)
        3:16.24 (28.63)     3:44.71 (28.47)
        4:13.17 (28.46)     4:40.34 (27.17)
 12 Gyorgy, Reka           SR Virginia Tech     4:42.37    4:42.04    5  
    r:+0.71  25.77        53.68 (27.91)
        1:21.96 (28.28)     1:50.52 (28.56)
        2:19.16 (28.64)     2:47.76 (28.60)
        3:16.49 (28.73)     3:45.39 (28.90)
        4:14.11 (28.72)     4:42.04 (27.93)
 13 Neumann, Robin         SR California        4:41.40    4:42.31    4  
    r:+0.63  25.52        53.44 (27.92)
        1:21.89 (28.45)     1:50.32 (28.43)
        2:18.91 (28.59)     2:47.54 (28.63)
        3:16.00 (28.46)     3:44.89 (28.89)
        4:13.96 (29.07)     4:42.31 (28.35)
 14 Haebig, Autumn         SR Nebraska          4:42.28    4:42.32    3  
    r:+0.76  25.74        53.95 (28.21)
        1:22.14 (28.19)     1:50.72 (28.58)
        2:19.54 (28.82)     2:48.41 (28.87)
        3:17.18 (28.77)     3:45.78 (28.60)
        4:14.37 (28.59)     4:42.32 (27.95)
 15 Donohoe, Maddie        SO Virginia          4:42.58    4:44.79    2  
    r:+0.67  26.00        54.07 (28.07)
        1:22.75 (28.68)     1:51.57 (28.82)
        2:20.40 (28.83)     2:49.19 (28.79)
        3:18.06 (28.87)     3:47.34 (29.28)
        4:16.68 (29.34)     4:44.79 (28.11)
 16 Klinker, Rachel        SO California        4:43.16    4:45.39    1  
    r:+0.72  26.11        54.41 (28.30)
        1:22.79 (28.38)     1:51.22 (28.43)
        2:19.95 (28.73)     2:48.84 (28.89)
        3:18.07 (29.23)     3:47.64 (29.57)
        4:16.89 (29.25)     4:45.39 (28.50)
Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 3                 
 
  1. Virginia                           96   
  2. California                         91
  3. Ohio St                            64   
  4. Texas                              61
  5. Alabama                            59   
  6. Stanford                           58
  7. Georgia                            51   
  8. NC State                           45
  9. Kentucky                           34  
 10. Florida                            32
 11. Michigan                           31  
 12. Missouri                           30
 13. Louisville                         24  
 13. UNC                                24
 15. Tennessee                          21  
 16. Indiana                            12
 17. Virginia Tech                      11  
 18. Texas A&M                          10
 19. Wisconsin                           8  
 20. Northwestern                        6
 21. Southern California                 4 
 22. Nebraska                            3

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