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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6 years ago


Tight team race for places 9-13th. Top teams 8 are a lock, but if seeds stay the same tonight here’s how top 13 teams scores out:


6 years ago

Will be too bad for Georgia knowing they didn’t really “win” this meet as much as Stanford “lost” it.

Reply to  Bummed
6 years ago

If Cal or Georgia ends up winning I’m sure they’ll take it. DQ’s can happen to any team. Each team faces challenges. Stanford has fought hard and are still in it. Should be an exciting finals.

Cal Bears Fans
6 years ago

I think the absence of Katie McLaughlin has a great affect on Cal’s relays especially the 4x100Free and 4x200Free and individual points in the 100/200Fly and 200Free.

Reply to  Cal Bears Fans
6 years ago

Hope she recovers in time for the trials. She represented the country well in world championships last year.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

200 back
Very open race. A nightmare to predict.
If Kylie Stewart could find again her shape rom high school, she could win.
Bartholomew was disappointing in the 100.
Bilquist has a solid meet so far.
I don’t know very much Danielle Galyer but she looks very well prepared. Maybe she’s the favorite.
Anyway, it will be very close.

100 free
I would be surprised to not see Lia Neal win. But Olivia Smoliga is on fire so far.
Both girls will push each other. Lia Neal should finish better and win it in about 46.60/46.70.

200 breast
Lilly King 59.09 at the 100! Very courageous. Or very crazy. It depends.… Read more »

6 years ago

Gonna be a great team battle tonight. Cal slipped in a little in the 2 Back, but going 2 up in the 2 Fly was a nice consolation. Glad Boots swam the 100 free, I don’t think she scored in the 2 fly last year.

In individual events, and including a likely top 8 finish from MacLean in the 1650:
Cal 4 up/3 down
Georgia 6 up/0 down
Stanford 3 up/3 down

Georgia has a 20 point cushion going into tonight, while Stanford has 2 divers and Cal has the most swims. Looks like this may come down to the relay tonight!!

6 years ago

What time does the early heats of the mile begin?

6 years ago

Olivia smoliga, killing the meet and my chances of winning.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

KP, please don’t convert the SCY times to LCM times. These conversions are hilarious, ok, but so crazy! :mrgreen:

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Very true. I saw a comment the other day about what Lilly King’s 100 breaststroke would convert to in long course and I cringed.

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Bobo: I plugged in a couple of best times SC vs LC, and sometimes it comes out perfectly. Lochte’s best 200 LC IM converts to 1:39.81 SC, just .26 off his best yard time. Even if you added an extra 2 seconds to Pelton’s converted yard time, it would still put her in the 2:04s. It makes sense, since her best yard time is a tiny bit faster than Missy’s. I plugged in a few others that were admittedly off quite a bit.

I know you think our yard competitions are a little silly, when the rest of the world only cares about meters. What you may not totally grasp is that some people thrive and swim their absolute best… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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