2016 Women’s NCAA Championship: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap


Early heats of the timed finals in the 1650 free begin at 3:30 Eastern Time.


  • NCAA Record: Elizabeth Pelton, California, 1:47.84
  • American Record: Elizabeth Pelton, California, 1:47.84
  • U.S. Open Record: Elizabeth Pelton, California, 1:47.84
  • Championship Record: Elizabeth Pelton, California, 1:47.84
  • Pool Record: Courtney Bartholomew, Virginia, 1:49.87
  • 2015 Champion: Missy Franklin, California, 1:47.91

On Friday, Danielle Galyer was named the top student of the 2016 NCAA Championships when she won the Elite 90 Award, which has no athletic component beyond “competing at the national championship meet.”

On Saturday, Galyer backed up her classroom success with a big prelims swim in the women’s 200 backstroke, where she swam a 1:50.04 as the top qualifier by almost a second.

She hammered her first 100 yards in 53.52; that sets up a very interesting final in that Indiana sophomore Kennedy Goss was out in just 55.03 (slowest among the top 7 qualifiers) before closing strong to qualify 2nd in 1:50.85. Goss is picking up the load for teammate Brooklynn Snodgrass, who won this event at NCAAs two years ago but is redshirting this season.

The highest-returning swimmer, Virginia senior Courtney Bartholomew, qualified 3rd in 1:51.01.

It took a 1:51.90 to make the top 8 in the 200 back, which is only three-tenths faster than last year. There was a much more pronounced six-tenths difference in the 100 back earlier in the meet.

NC State’s Alexia Zevnik (1:51.22), and Georgia’s Kylie Stewart (1:51.32) qualified 4th and 5th, followed by the only freshman in the top 8 Amy Bilquist (1:51.52).

Michigan’s Clara Smiddy (1:51.58) and Texas A&M’s Lisa Bratton (1:51.90) finished 8th in 1:51.90. Bilquist and Bartholomew both came in seeded at better than 1:50, so the final will still be wide-open.

Texas’ Tasija Karosas, who scratched all of her events up until this 200 backstroke, added two seconds from seed, but still was able to qualify for the B-Final in 1:52.42.

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Danielle Galyer, Jr, Kentucky – 1:50.04
  2. Kennedy Goss, So, Indiana – 1:50.85
  3. Courtney Bartholomew, Sr, Virginia – 1:51.05
  4. Alexia Zevnik, Jr, NC State – 1:51.22
  5. Kylie Stewart, So, Georgia – 1:51.32
  6. Amy Bilquist, Fr, Cal – 1:51.52
  7. Clara Smiddy, So, Michigan – 1:51.58
  8. Lisa Bratton, So, Texas A&M – 1:51.90


  • NCAA Record: Simone Manuel, Stanford, 46.09
  • American Record: Simone Manuel, Stanford, 46.09
  • U.S. Open Record: Simone Manuel, Stanford, 46.09
  • Championship Record: Simone Manuel, Stanford, 46.09
  • Pool Record: Natalie Coughlin, 46.85
  • 2015 Champion: Simone Manuel, Stanford, 46.09

In her three years of NCAA swimming, Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga has won the 50 free twice, but has never made the A-Final in the 100 freestyle (she’s won the B-Final twice).

On Saturday, that streak came to an end, as she was the top qualifier in the women’s 100 free in 47.20.

The prelims of this event, on a sleepy Saturday in Atlanta, were relatively slow. It took just a 48.02 to make the top 8 – two-tenths slower than what it took last year.

But there’s still a lot of quality in this race knocking at the door of 46 seconds. Stanford’s Lia Neal, who entered the meet as the top seed, swam 47.23 for the 2nd seed in an event that she calls “her baby.”

USC senior Kasia Wilk swam a new lifetime best of 47.44 to qualify 3rd to the final, and her teammate Anika Apostalon swam a 47.65 to qualify 5th.

In between them was the Florida Gators’ first A-finalists swimmer of the meet, senior Natalie Hinds in 47.51 – she had the fastest front-half of any swimmer in prelims.

Texas A&M’s Beryl Gastaldello qualified 6th in 47.83, Cal’s Farida Osman was 7th in 47.95, and Michigan senior Ali Deloof was 8th in 48.02.

The most significant ‘miss’ on Saturday morning was Ohio State sophomore Liz Li, who tied for 17th in 48.51. She placed 3rd in the 50 free earlier in the meet.

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Olivia Smoliga, Jr, Georgia – 47.20
  2. Lia Neal, Jr, Stanford – 47.23
  3. Kasia Wilk, Sr, USC – 47.44
  4. Natalie Hinds, Sr, Florida – 47.51
  5. Anika Apostalon, Jr, USC – 47.65
  6. Beryl Gastaldello, So, Texas A&M – 47.83
  7. Farida Osman, Jr, Cal, 47.95
  8. Ali Deloof, Sr, Michigan – 48.02


  • NCAA Record: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, 2:04.06
  • American Record: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, 2:04.06
  • U.S. Open Record: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, 2:04.06
  • Championship Record: Emma Reaney, Notre Dame, 2:04.06
  • Pool Record: Laura Simon, Virginia, 2:07.48
  • 2015 Champion: Kierra Smith, Minnesota, 2:04.56

Indiana freshman Lilly King came to Indiana with a lifetime best of 59.63 in the 100 yard breaststroke. As a sign of her incredible development in just 6 months, she not only improved that by three seconds to break the American Record in the 100, but was faster than that in the first 100 yards of her 200 breaststroke on Saturday morning.

King took her race out under American Record pace, and held on to qualify first in 2:06.43.

Meanwhile, as King split just 1:07.34 on her last 100 yards, UMBC junior Emily Escobedo split 1:05.91 to roar her way back to the fastest second-half and a center lane in the final.

She tied with Indiana’s other star freshman breaststroker, Miranda Tucker, with matching 2:06.82s. That puts Tucker within a second of another National Age Group Record.

Stanford’s Sarah Haase qualified 4th in 2:07.15 (she was second in the 100 breaststroke), with a top 3 finish needed from her in finals to give Stanford a chance at a team victory.

USC’s Kirsten Vose (2:07.64) made the final 3 freshmen in the top 5. A&M’s Bethany Galat (2:07.79) and Esther Gonzalez (2:07.93) qualified 6th and 7th, respectively; and Georgia’s Annie Zhu swam a season-best of 2:08.14.

Zhu’s time snuck her into the A-Final by a tenth-of-a-second – big for the Bulldogs as they hold a narrow team lead heading into the meet’s final day. That guarantees her a minimum of 11 points, barring a DQ, when she came in seeded only 18th.

Defending NCAA runner-up Laura Simon of Virginia qualified 16th – she was the highest-placing returning swimmer in the event.

Top 8 Finalists:

1. Lilly King, Fr, Indiana – 2:06.43
2. Emily Escobedo, Jr, UMBC – 2:06.82
2. Miranda Tucker, Fr, Indiana – 2:06.82
4. Sarah Haase, Sr, Stanford – 2:07.15
5. Kirsten Vose, Fr, USC – 2:07.63
6. Bethany Galat, So, Texas A&M – 2:07.79
7. Esther Gonzalez, So, Texas A&M – 2:07.93
8. Annie Zhu, Sr, Georgia – 2:08.14


  • NCAA Record: Elaine Breeden, Stanford, 1:49.92
  • American Record: Elaine Breeden, Stanford, 1:49.92
  • U.S. Open Record: Elaine Breeden, Stanford, 1:49.92
  • Championship Record: Elaine Breeden, Stanford, 1:50.98
  • Pool Record: Mary Descanza, Georgia, 1:52.48
  • 2015 Champion: Kelsi Worrell, Louisville, 1:51.11

Louisville senior Kelsi Worrell took the top qualification spot in the women’s 200 fly with a new lifetime best at NCAA Championship Record-breaking time of 1:50.61.

That’s the second-fastest performance in the history of the event, at any level, behind only Elaine Breeden’s record 1:49.92.

Worrell, who was controlled in her front-half effort on Friday in the 100 fly, looked visually to be very controlled on the front-half of her 200 fly as well. The time, however, still showed 53.02 – seven-tenths better than the rest of the field – before building her last 100 – which was also better than the rest of the field.

Stanford freshman Ella Eastin qualified 2nd in 1:52.30. Eastin looked more controlled on her back-half, and based on her prior swims this weekend projects to improve on her prelims swim in finals.

She’s the only candidate to push Worrell in that final.

Texas A&M junior Sarah Gibson continued a breakout season by qualifying 3rd in the 200 fly in 1:53.43 – a new lifetime best for her.

Cal’s Kelly Naze swam 1:53.46, followed by Georgia’s Hali Flickinger in 1:53.51. Flickinger has dropped time between prelims in finals in each of her first two individual swims, and was powerful to the last stroke, indicating another drop could be coming.

Her teammate Megan Kingsley (1:53.61), Virginia Tech’s Klaudia Nazieblo (1:53.91), and Cal’s Noemie Thomas (1:54.53) qualified 6th, 7th, and 8th.

Virginia Tech’s Klaudia Nazieblo was the big mover in prelims, dropping a second-and-a-half to qualify 7th in the A-Final.

Top 8 Finalists:

  1. Kelsi Worrell, Sr, Louisville – 1:50.61
  2. Ella Eastin, Fr, Stanford – 1:52.30
  3. Sarah Gibson, Jr, Texas A&M – 1:53.43
  4. Kelly Naze, Sr, Cal – 1:53.46
  5. Hali Flikinger, Sr, Georgia – 1:53.51
  6. Megan Kingsley, So, Georgia – 1:53.61
  7. Klaudia Nazieblo, So, Virginia Tech – 1:53.91
  8. Noemie Thomas, So, Cal – 1:54.53


  • NCAA Record: Stanford, 3:08.54
  • American Record: Stanford, 3:08.54
  • U.S. Open Record: Stanford, 3:08.54
  • Championship Record: Stanford, 3:08.54
  • Pool Record: NC State, 3:14.57
  • 2015 Champion: Stanford, 3:08.54

The USC Trojans, with an experienced relay that includes two juniors and a senior, qualified 1st into finals of the women’s 400 free relay by over a second, finishing in 3:10.97. Not to be outdone, the fastest split was freshman Kirsten Vose in 47.33 – after making the A-Final in the 200 breaststroke earlier in the session.

Stanford once again mixed up their prelims relay, using Janet HuElla EastinLindsey Engel, and Lia Neal in the morning. Stanford came in with the fastest 400 free relay in the country using Ally Howe instead of Lindsey Engel in the middle.

The first three legs left the Cardinal in a hole and in serious danger of not making the A Final. Six teams were faster than they were through 300 yards.

They had their ace-in-the-hole saved for the anchor leg, though, and junior Lia Neal split 46.91 to lift them to the second seed in 3:12.21.

The Georgia women qualified 3rd in 3:12.38, just a hair ahead of Cal’s 3:12.39. Cal didn’t use freshman Amy Bilquist, one of their top sprinters, on the prelims relay.

Tennessee qualified 5th in 3:12.84, led by a 47.63 from Harper Bruens on their 5th leg.

Louisville qualified 6th in 4:13.37, led by their two stars of the meet Kelsi Worrell and Mallory Comerford. Worrell, after swimming the 200 fly earlier in the session, split 47.38 on a flat-start leadoff from the Cardinals, while Comerford, who scratched the individual 100 free to swim a 5th relay, was 47.61 on their 6th leg.

Texas A&M qualified 7th in 3:13.57, and North Carolina State finished 8th in 3:14.07.

The Virginia Cavaliers just missed the A-Final, qualifying 9th in 3:14.08.

Top 8 Finalists:

  1. USC, 3:10.97
  2. Stanford, 3:12.21
  3. Georgia, 3:12.38
  4. Cal, 3:12.39
  5. Tennessee, 3:12.84
  6. Louisville, 3:13.37
  7. Texas A&M, 3:13.57
  8. NC State, 3:14.07


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Great swim from Kylie Stewart…goo dogs!!!!


Not to knock E Pelton- she is a great swimmer- but what happened to her 200 Back? Shoulder problems? Burnout? Her 1:47.84 record converts (on both Speedo and TYR tables) to a sub 2:03 long course– would be a world record!!!! I hope she keeps swimming after college, and perhaps trains with whoever helped her be so fast as a teenager. Maybe less grind and more speed work? In any case, I wish her the best. It must be very frustrating for her.


She was at her fastest her freshman year and Cal, and that was after a bit of a slump in high school, if I recall. Wonder why that never carried. She was fantastic her first NCAAs.


First off GO DAWGS and NEVER underestimate the power of these ladies! Secondly, the live stream team could do better and please stop cutting off Sam when he is giving the top 16 for each event for tonight’s finals. For three days he has been cut off!!

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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