2018 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 14- Saturday, March 17
- McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion – Columbus, Ohio
- Defending champion: Stanford (1x) (results)
- Psych Sheet
- Championship Central
- NCAA record: Ella Eastin (2018) – 1:49.51
- American record: Ella Eastin (2018) – 1:49.51
- U.S. Open record: Ella Eastin (2018) – 1:49.51
- 2017 NCAA Champion: Ella Eastin – 1:51.35
Stanford’s Ella Eastin has been very good at the 200 fly for a few years now. While her ventures in IM, which have extended to international successes that reach past the NCAA season (silvers in both IM races at the 2016 SC World Championships), have been the cornerstone moments in her career, her 200 fly has reached new levels this season.
The junior started making 1:51’s in the 200 fly look regular, going 1:51’s at 2016 Pac-12s, 2016 NCAAs, 2017 Pac-12s, and 2017 NCAAs. Elaine Breeden, a Stanford swimmer who came before Eastin, had set the fastest time ever at 1:49.92 back in 2009, which really stuck. In the current moment, with the Katie Ledeckys, Simone Manuels, and Lilly Kings of the world taking certain events to new heights, Breeden’s record held tough. That is, until last month, when Eastin breezed right past that mark with a 1:49.51.
Now, Eastin is a clear favorite for the 200 fly crown later this month. The same can’t be said for the IM specialist’s two other events– the 200 and 400 IM. Funnily enough, the events she’s known for are going to be her toughest to win; in the 200 IM, she’s up against defending NCAA champion and Bay Area rival Kathleen Baker as well as international IM competitor Sydney Pickrem. In the 400 IM, she must face Katie Ledecky, of all people. So, for Eastin, the conqueror of all four strokes, it may be the 200 butterfly where she’ll have the fewest obstacles on her path to an NCAA title.
Only two other women, USC’s Louise Hansson and Stanford’s Katie Drabot, have been faster than 1:52 this season. Hansson, who took out her race against Eastin at Pac-12s with a blazing 51.81 and somehow held on after that, has been 1:51.13, while Drabot’s been 1:51.74. Whereas Eastin has found a new resurgence in this event, it’s a newer race for Hansson and Drabot. Both are sophomores, and neither swam it at NCAAs last year. Both women are insanely versatile, though, so it’s no surprise that they’re at the top of the national rankings this year in this event.
Past those three, only one other swimmer has even broken 1:53 this season– UGA senior Megan Kingsley. A more seasoned veteran in this event, Kingsley has battled back against injury (including two knee surgeries in 2017), and her 1:52.62 from SECs, a PR, ranks her fourth in the nation this season.
USC junior Maddie Wright (1:53.38), Texas sophomore Lauren Case (1:55.18) and junior Remedy Rule (1:55.25), Cal junior Katie McLaughlin (1:54.97), and UVA senior Jen Marrkand (1:53.55) return from last year’s A final. Case and Rule made the final last year for the Longhorns, only to have Rule disqualified in the final for allegedly going too far underwater off of the start. That DQ caused controversy at the conclusion of the meet, as UGA finished 4th in the team standings ahead of Texas by just a half point.
Cal’s McLaughlin is still looking to throw down the big times that her 2:06 LCM swim from 2015 suggest she’s capable of. She’ll push for an A-Final along with teammate Noemie Thomas. Meanwhile, Virginia’s Marrkand could come forward with some intriguing time drops under the new direction of head coach Todd DeSorbo in her final NCAA Championships.
Texas A&M freshman Jing Quah (1:53.05), Michigan sophomore and Big Ten champion Vanessa Krause (1:53.44), Louisville sophomore Grace Oglesby (1:53.87), and Tennessee sophomore Meghan Small (1:53.97) are the remaining swimmers to have broken 1:54 this season. Quah, from Singapore, is a wild card as a freshman in her first season in yards, while the sophomores are a bit more experienced having grown up in the United States and having raced at NCAAs last year.
TOP 8 PICKS:
|7||Jing Quah||Texas A&M||1:53.05||1:53.05|
Dark horse: UGA’s Chelsie Britt. The senior was 1:54.44 to take 9th in prelims last year, three hundredths off of qualifying for the A final. This year, she’s seeded 14th in the nation with a 1:54.34.