2017 W. NCAA 200 Medley Relay Preview: Bay Area Showdown

2017 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

200 MEDLEY RELAY

  • NCAA record: Stanford (Ally Howe, Sarah Haase, Janet Hu, Lia Neal) 2016 – 1:34.15
  • American record: Stanford (Ally Howe, Sarah Haase, Janet Hu, Lia Neal) 2016 – 1:34.15
  • U.S. Open record: Stanford (Ally Howe, Sarah Haase, Janet Hu, Lia Neal) 2016 – 1:34.15
  • 2016 NCAA Champion: Stanford (Ally Howe, Sarah Haase, Janet Hu, Lia Neal) – 1:34.81

Just like in the 400 medley relay, Stanford has been able to almost completely mitigate the loss of breaststroker Sarah Haase with sophomore Kim Williams swimming breast and Simone Manuel on the anchor leg. Of course, Manuel probably won’t swim all five relays, but considering Stanford‘s otherworldly depth in the 200 free and the ferocity needed to take the medley relay titles in such deep fields, it’s likely that Manuel will anchor both medleys.

Stanford won the Pac-12 title in 1:34.32, just nipping Cal by a single tenth at the wall. Cal has swapped in Abbey Weitzeil on the breaststroke leg due to the Bears’ drought in breaststroke strength the last several years, but wouldn’t it be nice if she could anchor head-to-head with Manuel? Cal and Stanford have pretty evenly-matched legs all the way through, but an interesting wrinkle here has to do with Kathleen BakerAmy Bilquist led-off in 23.81 on Cal‘s A relay at Pac-12s, a very strong split, but Baker popped a 23.57 on the B relay, meaning Cal would’ve won the conference title and gone the nation’s fastest time had Baker been on the A, and they would’ve been .03 shy of the NCAA, American, and U.S. Open record. Baker could also serve as the team’s breaststroker and free up Weitzeil to anchor.

At present, the 200 medley is ruled by the Pac-12 conference. Arizona sits third this year, with USC at fifth, making the conference 1-2-4-5 in terms of seeds in this relay. In a time trial at the Texas Invite in late November, the Wildcats clocked a very fast 1:34.63– Kennedy Lohman (26.70 breast split) and Annie Ochitwa (22.23 fly split) were the key legs there, and they both were faster than Cal or Stanford‘s breast/fly splits in the 200 medley relay final at Pac-12s. They weren’t quite as fast (1:35.47) at Pac-12s, where USC posted a 1:35.18 for their 5th-seeded time. The Trojans, like the Wildcats, have a very strong middle contingent with Riley Scott on breast and Louise Hansson on fly. Those breaststrokers are a sneaky-good asset, given how much the top teams are lacking elite breaststroke legs.

The NC State women sit 4th, the highest non-Pac-12 seed. The Wolfpack doesn’t quite have that hammer fly leg, but Elise Haan and Kayla Brumbaum make up a very strong first half, and freshman Ky-lee Perry holds things down on the anchor leg.

Similarly to the 400 medley relay this season, Texas, Texas A&M, and Georgia round out the top 8. A&M boasts one of the best sprint breaststrokers in the country, Jorie Caneta, who busted a 26.59 split at SECs, along with 100 fly national runner-up Sarah Gibson. Georgia, meanwhile, has a breaststroke hole like Stanford and Cal, but should get dependable legs from Olivia Smoliga and Chantal van Landeghem. Texas has four strong legs, and IM’er Madisyn Cox put down a 26.59 breast split at Big 12s.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:

PLACE TEAM (SEED) SEASON BEST
 1  Stanford (#1)  1:34.32
 2  Cal (#2)  1:34.42
 3  USC (#5)  1:35.18
 4  NC State (#4)  1:34.89
 5  Arizona (#3)  1:34.63
 6  Georgia (#6)  1:35.28
 7  Texas A&M (#7)  1:35.33
 8  Texas (#8)  1:35.39

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ERVINFORTHEWIN

Let the show begin …..

CraigH

Stanford should let Neal anchor here and put Manuel on the 800 Free Relay. Yes they might fall the 4th or 5th but their 800 Free Relay record might never be broken…

E Gamble

Risking a 4th or 5th place for a record makes no sense at all. These girls are trying to win an NCAA Championship.

AvidSwimFan

Winning is more important than records. Records are a bonus not the primary objective.

CraigH

I get that. But then again, Stanford is slated to win by over 100 points– a fall to 4th is worth at worst, what 14 pts?

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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