2015 WOMEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
- NCAA Record: 1:51.77 — Caitlin Leverenz (Cal) — 3/15/12
- American Record: 1:51.77 — Caitlin Leverenz (Cal) — 3/15/12
- U.S. Open Record: 1:51.77 — Caitlin Leverenz (Cal) — 3/15/12
- 2014 NCAA Champion: Maya Dirado, Stanford (1:52.50)
One of the biggest showdowns of this meet may well be the 200 IM, where Cal superstars Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Pelton reign supreme over the NCAA this season. Coming in with top times of 1:52.93 (Pelton) and 1:52.99 (Franklin), there are no other challengers that have broken 1:55 this year. The two are very evenly matched in backstroke and breaststroke, while Pelton has the edge on fly and Franklin on free. With freshman Cierra Runge‘s timely arrival in Berkeley, Franklin has been relieved of her 500 duties and has focused on this event all year. While the Olympic gold medallist and world record holder was touched out by Pelton at the Georgia Invite, Franklin popped a 26 free split after being 2nd to the wall after breast to beat Pelton, 1:53.47 to 1:53.80. We saw the kind of speed that Franklin brought at last year’s NCAA champions, so we’ll have to go with her as the favorite to win this event.
The Golden Bears have a very good shot at sweeping the podium in this event, with sophomore Celina Li coming in at the #5 seed, and coming off of her 3rd place finish last year. She was only seeded at 1:56.01 and was able to pull out a 1:53.85, while she comes in with a 1:55.52 this year. Seeded just ahead of her, though, is Virginia’s Courtney Bartholomew. She scared a Natalie Coughlin record in the 100 back (49.97) with a killer 50.01 at the Georgia Invite, where she swam the 1:55.23 that she’s seeded with. Bartholomew has been hot all year, but Li has a monster breaststroke leg, which gives her the edge.
A group of ACC-ers sit right behind Li. That’s Virginia’s Kaitlyn Jones (1:55.61), Louisville’s Tanja Kylliainen (1:55.72), and Virginia’s Ellen Williamson (1:55.93). These are best times for all three of these ladies. Jones and Kylliainen were in the B final last year, while Williamson was edged out of that final. Virginia and Louisville are both bringing strong squads to this year’s meet, so making the A final to maximize scoring opportunity is key for each of these swimmers.
Of four swimmers in the 1:56 low range, three, Theresa Michalak, Lindsey McKnight, and Ashlee Linn, are Florida Gators. The fourth is Texas’ Madisyn Cox. All four come in with seed times matching their bests, but Cox had the best finish last year and NCAA newcomer Michalak has never competed at the national meet, so we’ll give the nod to the Longhorn.
Dark horse: Clara Smiddy (Michigan). The freshman is part of a Michigan squad hungry to put some solid points up at NCAAs, and her time of 1:56.74 has her in 14th. This was done at the Big Ten Championships, where the first year grabbed a B1G title and earned a new lifetime best.