201 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 15- Saturday, March 18
- IUPUI Natatorium- Indianapolis, IN
- Psych Sheet
- Championship Central
- NCAA record: Elizabeth Pelton, 2013, 1:47.84
- American record: Elizabeth Pelton, 2013, 1:47.84
- U.S. Open record: Elizabeth Pelton, 2013, 1:47.84
- 2016 NCAA Champion: Danielle Galyer, Kentucky, 1:49.71
After making the podium at the 2016 Rio Olympis, Cal backstroker Kathleen Baker has been looking to move up in the yards pool. As a freshman last season, she placed 13th in the 200 back with a 1:52.37, but this season she’s already been as fast as 1:48.33, making her a big favorite for the title. Baker is now within half asecond of Elizabeth Pelton’s American Record of 1:47.84 from the 2013 NCAA Championships, and will look to join the shortlist of women who have broken the 1:48-barrier.
There are a handful of women who could challenge Baker for the title, but only 2 of those women have been under 1:50 so far. NC State’s Alexia Zevnik (1:49.61) accomplished that at the ACC Championships, while Stanford’s Janet Hu (1:49.36) did so alongside Baker at the Pac-12 championships.
Baker’s teammate Amy Bilquist has been just shy of breaking the 1:50-barrier this season with a 1:50.06, but she’s been as fast as 1:49.90 before. Hu’s teammate Ally Howe (1:51.16) has been a force in the backstrokes this season, and will look to challenge for a top spot in the 200 back after breaking the American Record in the 100 back at conference.
Last season’s bronze medalist Kennedy Goss (1:50.95) of Indiana will be in the mix, as will Texas A&M’s Lisa Bratton (1:51.68), who finished 4th last season but is hidden down at 14th in the psych sheets. Texas’ Tasija Karosas (1:51.11) seeks a top 8 spot after finishing 9th last season (with a big drop in finals), and teammate Claire Adams (1:51.16) comes in as the 8th seed. Adams is a wild-card here – she’s fully recovered from a hand injury that disrupted her Olympic Trials meet this summer. While the 100 back is the race where she won Junior Worlds silver in 2015, her 200 back has been the biggest improvement in her rookie year in Austin.
While she hasn’t broken the 1:51-barrier yet this season, we definitely shouldn’t rule out defending NCAA champ Danielle Galyer, who is a part of a loaded Kentucky backstroke group. Galyer made a full second drop from SECs to NCAAs last season, and as the NCAA champion in this race, she’s likely not showing all of her cards until the big showdown. The Wildcats have multiple swimmers who could contend for a top 8 spot in this race, including freshmen Asia Seidt (1:50.22) and Danielle’s sister Ali Galyer (1:51.82). Kentucky scored 40 points in total at last year’s NCAA Championship meet. There’s a chance they’ll match that output in this one event in 2017, which shows just how far Lars Jorgensen’s team has come in a year.
Also coming in with a pair of 1:51-lows are Michigan’s Clara Smiddy (1:51.39) and Missouri’s Hannah Stevens (1:51.41). Smiddy earned All-American status in this race last season with a 6th place finish. Stevens just missed the consolation final in 2016, but has been on fire this season, so a top 8 finish is not out of the question.
Top 8 Predictions:
|1||Kathleen Baker||Cal||1:48.33 (#1)||1:48.33|
|2||Janet Hu||Stanford||1:49.36 (#2)||1:49.36|
|3||Danielle Galyer||Kentucky||1:51.16 (#10)||1:49.71|
|4||Amy Bilquist||Cal||1:50.06 (#4)||1:49.90|
|5||Alexia Zevnik||NC State||1:49.61 (#3)||1:49.61|
|6||Lisa Bratton||Texas A&M||1:51.68 (#14)||1:50.64|
|7||Tasija Karosas||Texas||1:51.11 (#7)||1:50.49|
|8||Asia Seidt||Kentucky||1:50.22 (#5)||1:50.22|