2016 W. NCAA Picks: King the Favorite, 200 Breaststroke Will Be Close

2016 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

200 BREASTSTROKE

  • NCAA record: 2:04.06  — Emma Reaney (Notre Dame) 03/22/14
  • American record: 2:04.06  — Emma Reaney (Notre Dame) 03/22/14
  • U.S. Open record: 2:04.06  — Emma Reaney (Notre Dame) 03/22/14
  • 2015 NCAA Champion: Kierra Smith (Minnesota) 2:04.56

With 2015 NCAA Champion Kierra Smith redshirting and NCAA and American record holder Emma Reaney graduating, the 200 Breaststroke could be anyone’s race at the 2016 NCAA Championships. Indiana freshman Lillia King comes in as the top seed with a time of 2:05.58. King posted this time at 2016 Big Ten Championships in February, proving that the speed that won her a U.S. Winter Nationals title long course can convert to the short course tank. King dropped a significant amount of time in the 200 breast during her freshman year, as she entered Indiana with a best time of 2:09. With these times drops at each focus meet throughout the season, expect King to go faster than her seed at NCAAs this week. King’s freshman teammate Miranda Tucker (Indiana) has also posted fast times this year with a long course 2:26 at Winter Nationals in December and a 2:06.52 at the Big Ten Championships, finishing right behind King. Tucker comes in as the 3rd seed in the 200 breast at NCAAs and will be competition for King. The two have been pushing each other all year and will compete for the win at NCAAs.

While King is the top seed and likely the favorite for the win in the 200 breast, 2nd seed Emily Escobedo (UMBC) will challenge King for the top spot. Escobedo is having a stellar season coming into NCAAs with a seed time of 2:06.21, over three seconds faster than her seed time at NCAAs last year. Escobedo finished 15th last year, slightly under her seed time. With consistent fast times in the 200 breast this season in December and at conference championships in February, expect Escobedo to continue to drop time at NCAAs. Certainly, a 1-2 second time drop for Escobedo is not out of the question and will put pressure on King.

Fourth seed Laura Simon (Virginia) is entering 2016 NCAAs with a seed time .03 faster than last year when she placed 2nd behind Smith. Despite being the 4th seed, Simon will likely drop about about a second from her seed time, as she did last year, and challenge the top 3 for the win in the 200 breaststroke. Simon won ACC Championships last month by almost a second, so expect her to drop more time when she competes against the top swimmers this week. Fifth seed Abigail Duncan (Missouri) comes in with a time of 2:07.02, which she posted at the Tennessee Invitational in November, only to add 1.5 seconds at SEC Championships in February. With recent performances far off of her best time, it is unlikely that Duncan will challenge the top 4 seeds for the win, but she could still place in the top 8 if she gets back to her time from November 2015.

Like Duncan, 6th seed Emily Fogle (Purdue) also added time at conference championships in February to her best time, which was posted in November 2015. Fogle also added time to her seed at 2015 NCAAs, finishing 42nd overall. Fogle will have to return to her times from November to compete for a spot in the top 8, but there is a good chance that Fogle will be ready to go a best time at NCAAs. After posting an A qualifying time in November, Fogle could have trained through Big Tens a bit more, focusing on her performance at NCAAs, so keep an eye on the Boilermaker to finish her college career with a top 8 finish. Like Fogle, Stanford senior Sarah Haase will be looking to end her college career with a top 8 finish in the 200 breast. Haase is the 9th seed and already two seconds faster this season than last, posting a best time of 2:07.64 in November, and then going 2:07.69 at PAC-12s in February. Haase, last year’s NCAA champ in the 100 breast, has made big time drops this season, so expect her to finish in the top 8 in this event for the first time in her college career.

Louisville’s Andrea Cottrell is the 7th seed at NCCAs this year with a time of 2:07.42. Cottrell comes in with a seed time a full second faster than last year, though she had a disappointing 19th place finish at 2015 NCAAs after adding almost two seconds. Cottrell could challenge for a spot in the top 8, but she would have to stay consistent with her 2:07 from ACC Championships in February. Eighth seed Kirsten Vose, a freshman from USC, posted a best time in November at the Texas Invitational, which qualified her for 2016 NCAAs, but she has been far off from that time since then. At PAC-12s, Vose finished 7th with a time of 2:09.68. A top 8 finish is not looking promising for Vose after her performance at PAC-12s, but the USC freshman could be ready for a big performance at NCAAs.

Also worth noting, 11th seed Madisyn Cox (Texas) finished 12th at 2015 NCAAs after dropping almost three seconds from her seed time and she is seeded this year a full second faster than her finish last year. Cox is positioned well for a top 8 finish this year if her time trends from 2015 NCAAs repeat this year. Also, 12th seed Weronika Paluszek (Virginia Tech) finished in the top 8 last year after dropping a full second from her seed time. Paluszek is seeded with a time similar to her performance at 2015 NCAAs. She has shown that she is ready to perform at NCAAs, so she certainly has potential for finishing in the top 8.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS

Swimmer School Seed Best Time
Lillia King Indiana 1st – 2:05.58 2:05.58
Laura Simon Virginia 4th – 2:06.86 2:06.65
Emily Escobedo UMBC 2nd – 2:06.21 2:06.21
Miranda Tucker Indiana 3rd – 2:06.52 2:06.52
Sarah Haase Stanford 9th – 2:07.64 2:07.64
Andrea Cottrell Louisville 7th – 2:07.42 2:07.42
Madisyn Cox Texas 11th – 2:07.86 2:07.86
Abigail Duncan Missouri 5th – 2:07.02 2:07.02

Dark Horse: 10th seed Bethany Galat (Texas A&M) finished 23rd at NCAAs last year, but she comes in with a seed time two seconds faster than last year. She has consistently dropped time this season and could be building off of a 1st place finish in the event at SEC Championships in February.

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About Kelsey Theriault

Kelsey Theriault

Kelsey Theriault is a former swimmer, a teacher, and a coach. After fifteen years of competitive swimming, from age seven on the local YMCA team to Division I college swimming, Kelsey continues to be involved in the sport though coaching, most recently with Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics. Kelsey graduated from Lafayette …

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