2016 Women’s D1 NCAA Championship Day 1 Finals Live Recap (800 Relays)


You can read our full event preview for tonight’s event, the 800 free relay, here. But here’s an abbreviated version, courtesy Robert Gibbs:

Bottom line up front: a new schedule, graduations, redshirts, and deferments means this may be the wildest, most unpredictable 800 free relay in years.

Quick refresher: last year, the Cal quartet of Cierra Runge, Elizabeth Pelton, Caroline Piehl, and Missy Franklin smashed the US Open, NCAA, and American records in this event with a 6:50.18 at the Pac-12 Championships.  They swapped Camille Cheng for Piehl at NCAA’s, and were a little slower (6:50.99), but still beat 2nd-place Stanford by almost four seconds, and 3rd-place Georgia by almost ten seconds.

However, only six of the twelve women who swam on those top three relays will be competing at NCAA’s this year, and there really is no one clear team on top this year.

Further complicating matters is that the 800 free relay will now be the first event of the meet, taking place on Wednesday evening, when everyone is still fresh.  Previously, the final two heats of this relay took place at the end of finals on Friday.  That mean that any 200 freestylers who made finals would be on their third 200 of the day by the time this relay came around.  The effect was that oftentimes teams would swim slower at NCAA’s than they did at their conference championships, as most conferences swim this relay and the 200 medley relay on Wednesday night… (Read on here)

800 Free Relay- Finals

  • NCAA Record: California, 6:50.18
  • American Record: California, 6:50.18
  • U.S. Open Record: California, 6:50.18
  • 2015 NCAA Champion: California, 6:50.99
  1. Georgia: 6:51.80
  2. USC: 6:53.84
  3. California: 6:55.18
  4. Virginia: 6:55.25
  5. Texas A&M: 6:58.83
  6. Stanford: 6:59.19
  7. Louisville: 6:59.58
  8. Indiana: 6:59.82

The University of Georgia team of Hali Flickinger, Kylie Stewart, Meaghan Raaband Brittany MacLean are this year’s 800 free relay champions, after swimming the event in 6:51.80.

Senior Flickinger led off the team in 1:42.80, the quickest of the lead-off legs, outswimming fellow first swimmers Kirsten Vose (1:43.08) of USC, Kathleen Baker of Cal (1:43.99), and even Leah Smith of Virginia, who came in with the second-fastest lead-off time: 1:42.87. With those times, Flickinger, Smith, and Vose would have taken 4th-6th in the individual 200 at last year’s meet.

Georgia sophomores Kylie Stewart and Meaghan Raab swam the middle two legs of the winning relay, splitting 1:43.95 and 1:43.59, respectively, but senior Brittany MacLean, who represents Canada internationally, was the real star of the show with her anchor leg 1:41.46. She comes into the individual event ranked eighth with a seed time of 1:43.64, but a swim like this means that she should end up fighting for the top three. (She’ll have to beware, however, of top seed Stanford star Lia Neal, who sat this relay out. Neal comes into the individual 200 with a seed time 1:42.50).

This is MacLean’s second time as a member of the NCAA champion 800 relay; she was part of the relay her freshman year when Georgia took the championship. She was also a member of the runner-up team in 2014 and the bronze medal winning 800 relay last season.

USC dropped another 1.33 seconds from their speedy 6:55.17 swim from Pac-12s to take the silver. Freshman Vose lead off in a swift 1:43.08, followed by junior Anika Apostalon in 1:44.34, junior Chelsea Chenault in 1:42.69, and senior Kasia Wilk in 1:43.73. Chenault’s split was particularly fast, and it made all the difference in securing the medal for the Trojans.

Third place went to defending champ California in 6:55.18. Senior Elizabeth Pelton was the only returner from last year’s record-breaking relay. Freshman Kathleen Baker led the team off in 1:43.99, followed by Pelton in 1:44.07, senior Rachel Bootsma in 1:44.23, and freshman Amy Bilquist in a very fast 1:42.89.

The Virginia team nabbed fourth in 6:55.25, led by junior Smith’s very quick 1:42.87. She was joined by freshman Megan Moroney (1:43.83), junior Kaitlyn Jones (1:44.83), and sophomore Jen Marrkand (1:43.73).

Texas A&M’s Sarah Gibson, Sydney Pickrem, Kristin Malone, and Claire Rasmus came up from the third heat to take fifth place, in what was a pool record (for about eight minutes) 6:58.83.

The most impressive split of the night, though, came from Stanford freshman Ella Eastin, who teamed up with Nicole Stafford, Julia Ama, and Lindsey Engel for a 6th-place 6:59.19. Her flying-start 1:42.18 was the second-fastest split out of the entire field. This foreshadows great things to come for the freshman, who isn’t even entered in the event individually.

Another notable split came from Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey. Although her team ended up 11th, Haughey split 1:42.63. Louisville freshman Mallory Comerford also split under 1:43, with a 1:42.72, to swim her team to 7th in 6:59.58. Comerford is seeded second in the individual 200.

Women – Team Rankings – Through Event 1
1. Georgia: 40
2. Southern California: 34
3. California: 32
4. Virginia: 30
5. Texas A&M: 28
6. Stanford: 26
7. Louisville: 24
8. Indiana: 22
9. Arizona: 18
10. Texas: 14
11. Michigan: 12
12. NC State: 10
13. UNC: 8
14. Penn St: 6
15. Kentucky: 4
16. Florida: 2

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I’m saying Georgia steps up on this one.


this webcast is horrid. just keeps buffering

PK Doesn't Like His New Name

The first 3 swimmers for Cal all really badly overswam their first 75/100 yards.

Commerford for Louisville looked like she had a big split.

About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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