The 100 fly and 200 fly are becoming more-and-more loosely connected as events. This year, of the top 10 swimmers in the 200 fly, only 5 of them are swimming the 100 fly: Caroline McElhany, Alex Forrester, Shannon Draves, Rachel Bootsma, and Kelsey Floyd. North Carolina’s Meredith Hoover, who is seeded 9th in the 200 fly, didn’t even hit a B-cut in the shorter race.
The 100 of this stroke is becoming better grouped with the 100 back or 100 free, and the 200 of the stroke is better grouped with the 400 IM or the distance freestyles. With that, we’ll take each race with some independence of the other.
In the 100, we’ve got a lot of very good freshmen near the top of the heap. Kendyl Stewart from USC and Kelsi Worrell from Louisville are ranked 1-2 in the event coming in, and Florida’s Natalie Hinds is seeded 5th.
There’s a lot of room to play the “who was rested, who wasn’t” game in this race as well. Cal’s Bootsma and Tennessee’s Floyd were clearly not rested for their conference championship meets. In past years, this race has been one where seed times don’t typically have a whole lot of bearing upon the final positioning, so look past the ten swimmers who were under 51’s in-season.
Then there’s the angle of the doubles; the 100 fly comes before the 100 back in the day 2 schedule, so swimmers like Bootsma, Cindy Tran, and Paige Miller shouldn’t have a huge concern about that.
Auburn’s Olivia Scott comes into the race with the honor of highest-placing-returner; and Arizona State’s Caroline Kuczynski and Virginia Tech’s Heather Savage were also First Team All-Americans last season.
The swimmer who’s really intriguing in the sprintier 100 fly is Yale’s Alexandra Forrester. In year one under Jim Henry, she’s taken her already-successful college career to a new level, breaking her own school records in both the 100 and 200 butterflies. She’s especially made some big progress in the longer race after mostly punting on it during her sophomore and junior years.
Now, suddenly, Forrester becomes a contender for a podium spot in the 200 fly as well. Based on what we’ve seen, though, Texas A&M’s Cammile Adams is a big favorite to win that race. She placed 2nd at NCAA’s to the now-graduated Katinka Hosszu as both a freshman and a sophomore, and has now added Olympic experience to her resume.
There’s only two other returning swimmers from last year’s A-final at NCAA’s: her teammate Caroline McElhany and Tennessee’s Kelsey Floyd, both of whom were also in the Olympic Trials final in the event.
The one swimmer whom it would seem has the ability to jump up and bridge the gap for a top three finish among the above is USC freshman Jasmine Tosky. She didn’t swim well at Pac 12’s, but showed mid-season at Winter Nationals that she’s already good enough to compete at the college level in this race.
After that group in the top 5, the names will become much less familiar to casual swim fans. Swimmers like West Virginia senior Mandie Nugent, the Big 12 Champion, and Tanja Kylliainen, the Big East Champion should be top-8 finishers. Rachel Bootsma is a familiar name, but not in this 200 fly. She’s proven to be a very good 100 butterflier, but it was a bit surprising that she’s taking on this 200 fly in stead of the 200 back (the 100 back is the event that qualified her for the Olympics).
At the top, though, Adams is the smart pick. She’s got a huge closing kick, so anybody who wants to beat her has to have a lead going into the last 50 yards.
Our picks, including their season-best times, for each race:
1. Kelsey Floyd, Tennessee, 52.05
2. Rachel Bootsma, Cal, 51.78
3. Olivia Scott, Auburn, 51.75
4. Kendyl Stewart, USC, 51.32
5. Caroline McElhany, Texas A&M, 51.86
6. Alex Forrester, Yale, 51.57
7. Becca Weiland, Minnesota, 51.61
8. Jasmine Tosky, USC, 52.19
Darkhorse: Lauren Harrington, Georgia, 52.39 – butterfliers aren’t where the focus of Georgia is going to be as they seek the National Team Championship; however, if Harrington can sneak up from her 22nd seed and score some significant points, it goes a long ways toward the Dawgs’ cause.
1. Cammile Adams, Texas A&M, 1:52.48
2. Kelsey Floyd, Tennessee, 1:54.78
3. Caroline McElhany, Texas A&M, 1:53.24
4. Jasmine Tosky, USC, 1:53.98
5. Rachel Bootsma, Cal, 1:54.97
6. Alex Forrester, Yale, 1:54.60
7. Mandie Nugent, West Virginia, 1:55.82
8. Tanja Kylliainen, Louisville, 1:55.75
Darkhorse: Heather Savage, Virginia Tech, 1:56.64 – Savage has as good of a first 150 in this 200 fly as anybody in the country, but a race as grueling as this is won by who can hold on for the last 50. If she can find that last 50 yards, she’s in the top 8 of this 200.