2016 Women’s 100 Fly NCAA Preview: Worrell Looking For Repeat

2016 Women’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships

       100 Butterfly

Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell reached the top of the podium at NCAAs last year in the 100 fly after showing a great deal of promise in her freshman and sophomore seasons. In her freshman year she was 4th, then next year she was 2nd, and last year she pulled off the win in dominating fashion winning by over a second. Worrell broke the American, NCAA, and US Open records and became the first woman to ever crack 50 seconds (doing so in prelims and finals). She has looked good this year once again, winning the ACC title for the 3rd consecutive year (she won the Big East title in 2013 before Louisville joined the ACC). She won ACCs this year in 50.06, which is slightly faster than the 50.17 she won with last year. She comes in as the top seed, but three other women have been sub-51 this season so nothing is a sure thing, but anyone would be a fool to bet against Worrell in her signature event. Given that it is an Olympic year and she was faster this year at ACCs than last, don’t be surprised to see an American record.

The other three who have been sub-51 this year will likely be racing for second, but nonetheless this sets up to be the quickest women’s 100 fly field in history. Farida Osman, Hellen Moffitt, and Sarah Gibson all clocked their season best times at their respective conference championship meets recently, and will be looking to drop some more time at the big meet.

Cal junior Farida Osman pulled out a lifetime best at Pac-12s, clocking 50.53 on her way to a decisive victory. Osman finally defeated USC senior Kendyl Stewart who beat her by 0.04 for the 2015 Pac-12 title and then defeated her by just 0.02 at NCAAs where Stewart was 3rd and Osman was 4th. Osman set her previous personal best at NCAAs last year where she clocked 50.94. Now that she has finally defeated Stewart, Osman should be flying high heading into NCAAs. Considering she dropped time from Pac-12s to NCAAs last season, we should expect the same from her this year, and doing so will give her a spot on the podium, something that eluded her last season.

Hellen Moffitt of UNC had a breakout swim at the ACC Championships, swimming a time of 50.67 in the 100 fly preliminaries. Though she didn’t top Kelsi Worrell in prelims, she certainly served notice around the NCAA with that swim. Moffitt regressed a little in the final, swimming about half a second slower than she did in the morning, but still finishing 2nd by a comfortable margin. Still, both of those swims were well under her previous personal best of 51.98 from the 2015 ACC Championships. Last year she was a bit slower at NCAAs (52.13 in prelims and 52.53 in the B-final) than she was at ACCs, so it’s unclear whether or not she can recreate her 50.67 performance at NCAAs. She has also consistently swum faster in prelims than finals, which is not the best attribute to have, but one of the keys at the NCAA Championships is the ability to throw down a fast time in prelims.

Prior to 2016, Texas A&M’s Sarah Gibson had never broken 52 in the 100 fly. She hadn’t even broken 53 coming into the 2015-16 campaign, as it wasn’t one of her regular events. Last year at NCAAs she competed in the mid-distance freestyle events, but not the 100 fly. At the Art Adamson Invite in November she posted a 52.35, and then surprised many as she dominated the SEC field, going 50.99 in prelims and then 51.17 in finals for the win. What’s even more impressive is Gibson hasn’t dropped the 500 free, as she was 3rd at SECs in that event and also was 2nd in the 200 fly. She will no doubt be a major threat at NCAAs, the question is the same as it is for Hellen Moffitt: can she drop time from conference to NCAAs? We’ll see.

Those are the four women who have cracked 51 this season, but they aren’t the only ones in contention for a top finish at NCAAs. Last year’s 3rd place finisher at the big meet Kendyl Stewart of USC was a major second semester addition for her Trojan teammates, as she helped them to their first ever Pac-12 title. She comes in a little under the radar after finishing 2nd to Farida Osman at Pac-12s, but she’ll be a threat for the podium as she touched out the Cal junior for 3rd place last year. She comes in ranked 6th this year at 51.17, and her Pac-12 foe Noemie Thomas of Cal is 5th with a 51.15. Thomas, a Canadian Olympic hopeful, has taken major strides this season after finishing 19th in this event at NCAAs in her freshman year.

The SEC would have to be considered the deepest conference in this event, with five swimmers breaking 52 at the conference championships in February. Texas A&M’S Beryl Gastaldello, Tennessee’s Madeline Banic, Georgia’s Kylie Stewart, and Florida’s Natalie Hinds were all fast there and all have A final potential at NCAAs. Hinds was 5th last year, and Gastaldello was 17th, a spot that isn’t fun to finish in and will have provided her with motivation all year. Gastaldello is capable of a top-3 finish, but the proximity of France’s Olympic Trials to NCAAs leaves her in limbo. Thomas (Canada) is in a similar spot with Canada’s Olympic Trials nearing.

Also coming in hot will be Stanford sophomore Janet Hu who comes in ranked 8th in the country with a 51.27. She got a taste last year with a consolation final appearance.

Top 8 Predictions

                         Seed Time                      Best Time

  1. Kelsi Worrell, Louisville                                        50.06                             49.81
  2. Farida Osman, Cal                                                  50.53                              50.53
  3. Kendyl Stewart, USC                                              51.17                               50.92
  4. Noemie Thomas, Cal                                              51.15                               51.15
  5. Sarah Gibson, Texas A&M                                    50.99                              50.99
  6. Hellen Moffitt, UNC                                               50.67                              50.67
  7. Beryl Gastaldello, Texas A&M                              51.46                              50.87
  8. Madeline Banic, Tennessee                                   51.19                              51.19

Dark Horse: Arizona Wildcat freshman Annie Ochitwa is another one to look out for, coming in ranked 9th. She was a little faster in early December than she was in late February at Pac-12s, but that could indicate heavier training through conference in order for a peak at NCAAs. She comes in with a lifetime best of 51.35. 

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I would also expect Rachel Bootsma to be an A final contender. However her day 2 100 back/fly double must be difficult.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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